New Science Teams To Tackle Hanford Plant's Vexing Challenges

Nov 8, 2012

RICHLAND, Wash. – Energy Secretary Steven Chu is bolstering the scientific brain power at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation’s waste treatment plant. A memo released to employees Thursday says the aim is to solve nagging technical problems at the plant more quickly.

The massive factory at Hanford is supposed to treat 56 million gallons of radioactive waste. That goo is currently in leaking, aging underground tanks near the Columbia River.

This new treatment plant is being designed and built at the same time. Parts of the project have been slowed or halted because of technical challenges.

Now, Secretary Chu says he’s naming new teams of scientists to solve those vexing problems as quickly as possible.

“In some areas there will be new employees that will be brought forth from National Laboratories or throughout the contractor ranks to help -- I’ll say -- strengthen those teams in some areas,” says the Department of Energy's Carrie Meyer.

The teams will tackle issues like: How to prevent corrosion inside the plant, how to keep hydrogen gas from building up and how to mix the waste well enough so it won’t cause a so-called criticality.

On the Web:

Steven Chu's memo to ORP employees (Dept. of Energy)

2012 Northwest Public Radio

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