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One Year Review: Overview of Hanford Cleanup During the Pandemic

Apr 28, 2021

The Hanford Site reduced operations due to COVID-19 beginning on March 22, 2020, and during this past year Hanford, like the rest of the country, has navigated its way through the immense challenges brought on by the pandemic.

Many members of the Hanford workforce have been teleworking and a range of safeguards have been put in place to increase safety for those who are working onsite.

Despite these unusual circumstances, important progress has been achieved in the last year. As DOE Hanford Site Manager Brian Vance noted during the 2021 Waste Management Symposia in March, “Even during a year of unprecedented challenges, the Hanford team demonstrated not only innovation and dedication, but also tenacity and flexibility.” He added, “Almost overnight, 6,000 employees transitioned from our traditional way of doing work to telework. While no change of that magnitude is ever perfect, the Hanford team worked through issues and corrective actions professionally and constructively while supporting the mission from home.”

Efforts in Risk Reduction

Of particular importance to the Tri-City community, significant progress was made on a number of risk reduction efforts across the site. This included the stabilization of the Z-9 and Z-361 underground structures in the Central Plateau. Work also continues on the planned transfer of cesium and strontium capsules to dry storage, along with remediation of the 300-296 Waste Site underneath the 324 Building. (This progress aligns with some of Hanford Communities’ cleanup priorities.)

DFLAW Complete

Perhaps the Site’s biggest news of the past year, construction of the Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) Facility is complete. Startup and commissioning activities are now underway. Once operational, this facility will vitrify (turn into glass) millions of gallons of low-activity waste currently stored in underground tanks at the Hanford Site.

Transition of Contracts

The Department of Energy also transitioned the Hanford Mission Essential Services Contract (HMESC) along with the Central Plateau Cleanup Contract (CPCC), and the 222-S Laboratory contract transition is nearly complete. In addition, a Draft Request for Proposal (RFP) for the Integrated Tank Disposition Contract (ITDC) has been released. This large contract will include both Tank Farm and Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste Facility operations.

Given the circumstances and restrictions COVID has caused this past year, the community at large is excited by these accomplishments, and looks forward to seeing continued progress in the future.

For more information or to sign up for the Hanford Communities newsletter, visit our site. To learn more or get updates on the DFLAW facility, visit https://www.hanfordvitplant.com/direct-feed-low-activity-waste-dflaw.

Image of The Effluent Management Facility
The Effluent Management Facility is needed to handle the liquid secondary waste, called effluent, generated by the LAW Facility melters and offgas treatment system. EMF is the final major construction effort to support DFLAW.

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