Bechtel National Inc. and AECOM today announced the formation of the Waste Treatment Completion Company LLC (WTCC) – a company that will complete construction and lead the startup and commissioning of more than 20 facilities to safely treat low-activity nuclear waste at the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant. The plant is located at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site in Washington state.
“This new company is the next step toward starting up and commissioning facilities that will safely and efficiently vitrify millions of gallons of nuclear waste,” said Barbara Rusinko, president of Bechtel’s Nuclear, Security and Environmental business. “We are now within the timeframe where nuclear facilities typically begin transitioning from construction to startup activities, so the time is now to implement these organizational changes.”
WTCC will be subcontracted to Bechtel, which will continue to provide project leadership, engineering, procurement, and other key functions. The new structure represents no new costs to the taxpayer and will deliver the facilities, management systems, and trained workforce to demonstrate turning waste to glass by hot commissioning the Low Activity Waste facility as early as 2022, as required under the WTP contract. The initial workforce will be composed of employees already on the project.
During commissioning, the Low-Activity Waste Facility and its support facilities will be handling radioactive waste in close proximity to construction occurring on WTP’s Pretreatment and High-Level Waste facilities, in a sequenced approach to startup that requires extra care.
Scott Oxenford, a veteran WTP leader named president and general manager of WTCC, said “Having an active nuclear facility within a construction site creates additional environmental and safety challenges. WTCC provides a single integrated team with line of sight to both startup and commissioning and construction and enables consolidated decision-making.”
Peggy McCullough will continue as the overall WTP project director. The new project structure takes effect March 27, 2017. Bechtel retains full accountability for all project deliverables.
Treating Manhattan Project and Cold War-era waste
Hanford had nine nuclear reactors and five chemical separation facilities that created plutonium for U.S. nuclear weapons from 1944 to 1987. Approximately 56 million gallons of chemical and radioactive waste are stored in underground tanks awaiting treatment.
The waste will be piped to the WTP Low-Activity Waste facility, mixed with glass-forming materials, melted, and then poured into stainless steel containers where it will solidify. The containers will then be disposed at Hanford’s existing low-level waste disposal site.
The remaining high-level waste is to be processed and treated at two additional facilities that are under construction and scheduled for completion in the mid-2030s.