In southeastern Washington state, Bechtel National Inc. is designing, constructing and commissioning the world’s largest radioactive-waste treatment plant for the U.S. Department of Energy. When complete, the plant will process and stabilize much of the 56 million gallons of radioactive and chemical waste currently stored in underground tanks at the Hanford Site.
The plant will use vitrification technology, which involves mixing the waste with glass-forming materials and heating it to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit inside large melters. This mixture will then be poured into stainless steel canisters to cool and solidify. In this glass form, the waste will be stable and impervious to the environment, and its radioactivity will safely dissipate over hundreds to thousands of years.
For more information, please see the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant Project Fact Sheet.