Hanford underground tanks waste

Solving the Hanford Challenge

Hanford Challenge

The waste in the underground tanks on the Hanford Site is extraordinarily complex. The material consists of solids, semi-solids, liquids, and gases. In addition to water-like liquids, the tanks contain saltcake, a material with the consistency of wet beach sand, and sludges. Also inside are wastes resembling peanut butter, small broken icebergs, foam, and whitish crystals. Each of these materials contain varying amounts of toxicity and radiation.

This extraordinary challenge requires an extraordinary solution. That’s where the Vit Plant comes in. This first-of-a-kind plant is designed to address the challenges presented by the tank waste. Visit Vitrification 101 for information on the process to solve the challenges.

Hanford Nuclear Waste Fast Facts

  • The Hanford Site contains the most complex heterogeneous radioactive waste at any US cleanup site.

  • Waste is in the form of sludge, salts, and liquids.

  • No two tanks have the same combination of waste.

  • During a 2016 visit to the Hanford Site, Energy Secretary Moniz described the Vit Plant as "the single greatest engineering cleanup challenge in the world."

  • There are 1,800 different chemicals in the tank waste.