The Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility is adjacent to the B Plant processing facility in the 200 East Area of the Hanford Site.
The U.S. Department of Energy and contractor CH2M HILL Plateau
Remediation Company are preparing to remove some of Hanford’s most hazardous legacy waste to reduce any potential effects on people and the environment.
The Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility (WESF) provides safe and compliant underwater storage for 1,936 highly radioactive capsules containing cesium and strontium. In the 1970s, cesium and strontium were removed from waste tanks at Hanford to reduce the temperature of the waste inside the tanks. Both elements were ultimately placed in sturdy, stainless steel containers at WESF for safe storage and monitoring.
The U.S. Department of Energy and CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company are committed to safely storing the capsules until they can be removed for interim and final placement. While the capsules are currently in a safe configuration, WESF is an aging facility. Dry storage would eliminate the possibility of a release of radioactive material in the unlikely event of a major earthquake that might result in loss of pool storage water, and subsequent overheating and breach of the capsules. CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company is in the process of planning for transfer of the capsules to safer interim dry storage, allowing for the eventual deactivation of WESF.