The U.S. Department of Energy is on the verge of achieving a cleanup commitment that has been decades in the making – vitrifying Hanford’s tank waste through the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program. “Direct-feed” means waste is separated at a double-shell tank farm to remove the more radioactive portion (solids and cesium) so that the resulting low-activity (less radioactive) waste can be fed directly to the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant’s (WTP) Low-Activity Waste (LAW) Facility for immobilization in glass.
DFLAW is an assembly of highly interdependent projects and infrastructure improvements, managed as a program, that will operate together to vitrify and dispose of low-activity waste. Supporting DFLAW requires significant upgrades to Hanford Site infrastructure and coordination and integration among all Site contractors. DFLAW will be the most highly integrated operational program at Hanford.
Safely, efficiently, and effectively treat Hanford tank waste.
Unified, prepared, and empowered high-performing team driven to achieve effective tank waste treatment operations.
As DOE moves closer to the startup and commissioning of DFLAW, a greater interdependency and need for integration is emerging between DOE’s Office of River Protection and Richland Operations Office, contractors, leadership, stakeholders, and teammates, to deliver the respective components and ensure DFLAW will operate reliably and effectively beginning in 2023. An increased operational tempo is expected in the life cycle of any large nuclear project, as teams steadily increase the pace to bring facilities online.
DFLAW has the added complexity of being an assembly of projects, activities and infrastructure upgrades, some existing and others very new, which will start and operate in harmony in order for DFLAW to successfully treat and vitrify Hanford tank waste.
Achieving multiple missions requires a shift in the culture at Hanford. The startup of DFLAW operations will require a greater degree of coordination and teamwork between the U.S. Department of Energy offices and contractors. DFLAW represents a Sitewide transition because the WTP requires not only transfers of waste from tank farms, but the treatment of secondary waste, disposal of vitrified glass waste, and robust Site infrastructure to support 24/7 operations.
DFLAW is Hanford’s primary focus. While 2023 might seem distant under normal circumstances, it is a relatively short period of time for the cultural, performance, and operational transformation to successfully begin DFLAW and make glass. The DFLAW program will require a sustained collective commitment to excellence and teamwork by DOE and its contractors, and a singular, intensive leadership focus to deliver success.
The Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) program at the Hanford Site, located in southeastern Washington State, integrates individual projects, facilities, and infrastructure upgrades, with involvement from all of Hanford’s contractors. Through DFLAW, the U.S. Department of Energy will retrieve, treat, and immobilize low-activity tank waste.
Double-Shell Tank AP-107 is the feeder tank to the TSCR system
Pretreated low-activity waste feed will be stored in
Double-Shell Tank AP-106 and transferred in
9,000-gallon batches to the LAW Facility
Provides storage and treatment for a variety of mixed liquid waste at Hanford
Accepts solidified secondary waste forms from WTP operations
Engineered disposal facility accepts containers of vitrified
low-activity waste for disposal
Mixes low-activity waste feed with glass-forming material and heats them in a high-temperature melter
Incorporates the wastes into the glass through vitrification for storage in waste containers
Containers are allowed to solidify and cool and then get transported for disposal
Provides analytical services necessary to operate the LAW Facility
Treats the liquid effluent from the LAW Facility in an evaporator
Pumps decontaminated liquids to the Effluent Treatment Facility for further treatment
More-contaminated evaporator slurry may be returned to the LAW Facility for vitrification
Provides necessary services to support LAW Facility operations
Provides emergency response, electrical, roads, water, sewer, security, emergency, IT, facilities,
and other services in support of all Hanford cleanup activities
* These facilities support both DFLAW and the WTP