“It’s a big deal,” said Dawn Wellman, sector manager for environmental health and remediation at the national lab in Richland. “At a scaled version we have done what they will do at full scale at Hanford.”
The vitrification plant — or Waste Treatment Plant — at the Hanford nuclear reservation has been under construction since 2002, with a court-ordered deadline of 2023 to start treating some of the 56 million gallons of radioactive waste in underground tanks.
Much of the waste, which is left from the past production of plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program, is planned to be vitrified, or turned into a solid glass form for disposal.”
“The West Lake Landfill contains thousands of tons of radioactive material from the World War II-era Manhattan Project that was dumped at the site in the 1970s, where it has languished ever since amid other waste. The latest plan calls for excavating 70 percent of the radioactive waste from the site — a far cry from a 2008 solution proposed by the George W. Bush administration to cover and monitor the waste.“
The first shipment of highly radioactive sludge left an annex at the Hanford nuclear reservation’s K West Reactor Basin, which is near the Columbia River, at about 10:30 a.m. Monday. It was taken to central Hanford for storage away from the river.
Republican Gov. Mike Parson, who was sworn in on June 1 after the resignation of Gov. Eric Greitens, approved the proposal championed by Sen. Maria Chappelle-Nadal, D-University City.
The measure will allocate $150,000 annually to the Department of Natural Resources to probe sites like the West Lake Landfill in north St. Louis County, where radioactive material was dumped more than 40 years ago.
“What is usually referred to as nuclear waste is used nuclear fuel in the shape of rods about 12 feet long. For four and a half years, the uranium atoms that comprise the fuel rods are split apart to give off the heat that turns water into steam to spin turbines to make electricity. After that, nuclear plant workers move the used fuel rods into pools of water to cool.”