Energy Department weighs earlier start for Hanford nuclear waste treatment plant

The Tri-City HeraldFebruary 10, 2011 

The Department of Energy is considering whether the Hanford nuclear reservation's vitrification plant could start treating some waste three years ahead of current schedules.

The plant is required to begin turning radioactive waste into a stable glass form for disposal in late 2019. But there might be an opportunity for a phased start of waste treatment in late 2016, said Dale Knutson, DOE project director for the $12.2 billion plant.

The proposed 2016 start would be for treatment of only the low-activity radioactive waste and not high-level radioactive waste. It also could include operating the Analytical Laboratory, but not the Pretreatment Facility, which will separate waste into low-activity and high-level waste streams.

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