CHAMPS Software has been working with the U.S. Department of Energy since January 2003 on one of this country’s largest environmental cleanup projects. CHAMPS has partnered with Bechtel National, Inc. along with other subcontractor chosen by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of River Protection to design, build and commission a radioactive waste treatment plant on a 65-acre site.
The Hanford Site is the largest (586 square miles) of three original defense production sites founded in WWII as part of the Manhattan Project. The government acquired the land in 1943 to build large industrial facilities to produce plutonium, which served a vital role in our nation’s defense strategy. Hanford’s mission expanded during the Cold War Era to include activities related to research and development of peaceful uses of atomic energy. Most of the support structures were built between 1943 and 1963, including, nine plutonium production reactors, five reprocessing facilities and 900 additional support facilities and radiological laboratories. Over its 40 years of operations, the Hanford site has produced about 64 metric tons of plutonium which is two thirds of all the plutonium produced for government purposes in the United States.
CHAMPS involvement at the Hanford Site is varied. CHAMPS Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) software solutions are being used to support The Office of River Protection’s management of waste retrieval and stabilization of the 177 underground waste tanks. In addition, CHAMPS is being used for the engineering and construction of the waste treatment plant. CHAMPS CMMS also plays a significant role in managing the daily maintenance and operations of the plant’s equipment, materials and processes.
The Vit plant will use verification technology to stabilize the waste. Vitrification involves blending the waste with glass-forming materials and heating it to 2,100 degrees Fahrenheit (1,149 degrees Celsius). The molten mixture is poured into stainless steel canisters to cool and solidify. In this glass form, the waste is stable and impervious to the environment, and its radioactivity will safely dissipate over hundreds to thousands of years. The Vit Plant is a feat of engineering and construction at an unprecedented level. It is the largest undertaking of its kind and one of DOE’s most technically challenging clean-up projects.