Skip to main content
Office of River Protection
Waste Treatment & Immobilization Plant

Waste Treatment Plant Overview

Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant Background Information

The Hanford Site, located in southeastern Washington State, was the largest of three defense production sites in the U.S. Over the span of 40 years, it was used to produce 64- metric tons of plutonium, helping end World War II and playing a major role in military defense efforts during the Cold War. As a result, 56-million gallons of radioactive and chemical wastes are now stored in 177 underground tanks on the Hanford Site.

To address this challenge, the U.S. Department of Energy contracted Bechtel National, Inc., to design and build the world’s largest radioactive waste treatment plant. The Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP), also known as the “Vit Plant,” will use vitrification to immobilize most of Hanford’s waste. Vitrification involves blending the waste with glass-forming materials, and heating it to high temperature to form molten glass, then pouring it into stainless steel canisters. In this glass form, its radioactivity will dissipate over hundreds to thousands of years.

Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant

The WTP will cover 65 acres with four nuclear facilities – Pretreatment, High-Level Waste Facility, Low-Activity Waste Facility and an Analytical Laboratory – as well as operations and maintenance buildings, utilities, and office space. Site preparation began in October 2001, and the concrete for the first nuclear facility’s foundation was placed in July 2002.

Construction Facts


262,000 cu. yds.
Enough to fill 26,200 Concrete Trucks!


36,500 tons


2,100 tons


1,017,000 linear ft
More than 192 miles!


4,762,000 ft
More than 900 miles!




Last Updated 12/02/2018 4:52 PM