Massive nuclear waste melter on its way to Hanford

The first of two 125-ton melter assemblies for the Hanford vitrification plant has started its slow journey from Utah, taking up two lanes of the roads it travels.

The melter assembly is being carried on a 190-foot-long, heavy-haul transporter that can travel a maximum of 45 mph. It is expected to reach Hanford by Friday or sometime next week, depending on factors such as weather.

When complete, the two melters each will weigh 300 tons. They will be the world's largest waste-processing melters in operation. They will be used at Hanford's vitrification plant to melt low-activity radioactive waste and glass formers to turn waste into a sturdy glass form for disposal. The waste is left from the past production of plutonium for the nation's nuclear weapons program.

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