In a first-of-its-kind demonstration, researchers at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) have vitrified low-activity waste from underground storage tanks at the Hanford Site, immobilizing the radioactive and chemical materials within a durable glass waste form. (From 1943-1987, the site was used for plutonium and atomic weapons production.) Approximately 3 gal of low-activity Hanford tank waste was vitrified at PNNL’s Radiochemical Processing Laboratory in April. The laboratory-scale demonstration is an important step toward the eventual treatment of millions of gallons of hazardous waste generated during past plutonium production at Hanford.
“This was the first time low-activity Hanford tank waste has been vitrified in a continuous process, very similar to the treatment process that will be used at Hanford, rather than as a single batch,” said Albert Kruger, glass scientist with DOE’s Office of River Protection. “The experience from this test will help us as we prepare for full-scale operations.”