Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) is a limited liability corporation owned by AECOM and Atkins, with Orano Federal Services as its primary subcontractor. WRPS is the Department of Energy Office of River Protection prime contractor responsible for reducing the risk posed by approximately 56 million gallons of radioactive and hazardous waste stored near the center of the 586 square-mile Hanford Site in southeastern Washington. The tanks are grouped in 18 so-called farms, and contain waste left over from both World War II and post-war nuclear weapons production. The waste in the tanks accounts for 60 percent by volume of the nation’s high-level radioactive waste. WRPS is responsible for safely managing the waste until it can be prepared for disposal.
The waste is stored in 177 underground waste storage tanks. There are 149 single-shell tanks and 28 double-shell tanks located about 10 miles from the Columbia River. The first single-shell tanks were put into service in 1944, and a number of those are known or suspected to have leaked waste to the surrounding soil. The tanks consist of a carbon steel liner surrounded by a layer of thick steel-reinforced concrete. Hanford’s double-shell tanks were built beginning in 1968. The double-shell tanks have a carbon-steel tank with a separate steel liner surrounding it. The tank liners are separated by an air space, or annulus, of about 30 inches armed with a leak-detection system.
WRPS' primary focus is to remove waste from the single-shell tanks, transfer it to the double-shell tanks and prepare the systems needed to deliver waste to the Waste Treatment Plant. Our mission includes upgrading critical tank-farm facilities and developing supplemental technologies that can be used to treat the low-activity waste.
Please view the PDF below to get a better understanding of Hanford's Tank Waste