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Greenberry testing container

A testing container made by Greenberry Industrial was loaded on a barge and shipped to the Tri-Cities area in mid-July. It will be used to determine how to process nuclear waste at the Hanford site.  

Greenberry Industrial workers in Corvallis helped fabricate a 65-ton testing container that will help determine how to safely mix and process nuclear waste at the Hanford Site in southeastern Washington.

The Hanford Site contains 56 million gallons of nuclear waste stored in underground tanks. The world’s largest radioactive waste treatment facility is being developed there for the U.S. Department of Energy.

The testing container is 35 feet high with a 16-foot diameter and it has a volume of 22,000 gallons, about the same capacity of 2.5 tanker trucks. The shell of the container is stainless steel that is three-quarters of an inch thick.

“Most of the fabrication and assembly was done in our Vancouver (Washington) shop, but some of the internal piping and such was created in Corvallis,” said Anna-Marie Matalucci, marketing manager for Greenberry Industrial.

Complex machinery, such as pulse-jet mixers, also was created in Corvallis.

The testing container will be used to study the performance of the pulse-jets, which will make sure the liquid waste is properly mixed before it gets turned into a glass-like material that can’t leach into the environment.

“This is one small piece of the project, a small but important piece,” said Todd Nelson, external affairs manager for Bechtel, which is designing and building Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant.

The facility also is called the Hanford Vit Plant for the process of vitrification – turning liquids into a glass-like solid.

Eventually, most of the radioactive waste at Hanford will be heated to 2,100 degrees and mixed with glass-forming materials. The molten glass will be poured into canisters where it can harden and be stored easily.

Matalucci said the testing container looked like a spacecraft, especially the top side.

“We have an elliptical head design that has 53 nozzle penetrations,” she added.

In mid-July, the testing container was shipped along the Columbia River by barge from Greenberry’s Vancouver, Washington manufacturing plant to Richland, Washington, and a facility there owned by Washington State University Tri-Cities.

During the tests, non-radioactive fluid and particulate matter simulating the Hanford tank waste will be added to the container and mixed. Once this simulated waste is added, the container’s operating weight will be 310 tons.

The year-long testing program is anticipated to begin in late 2016.

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Kyle Odegard can be reached at kyle.odegard@lee.net, 541-812-6077 or via Twitter @KyleOdegard.

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Business Reporter