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There are questions about the plans for the vitrification of radwastes in Hanford

AtomInfo.Ru, PUBLISHED 15.04.2022

Plans to vitrify large quantities of radioactive waste in Hanford (USA) have caused concern among the environmental department of Washington State.

The nuclear complex in Hanford in the period from 1944 to 1988 worked in the interests of the US nuclear program. In particular, the production of weapons-grade plutonium was carried out here. During this time, a significant amount of radioactive waste was accumulated at the complex.

Since various radiochemical processes were used to isolate plutonium, the waste stored in Hanford is a complex mixture of radioactive and toxic components.

It is planned that the vitrification of radwastes in Hanford will begin in 2023. Completion of the work is scheduled for 2069.

In the official report of the US Department of Energy dated August 27, 2021, it was noted that the technological process chosen for vitrification may be accompanied by the formation of toxic vapors containing acetonitrile CH3CN.

This toxic substance is widely used in chemistry as a solvent. In Hanford, it will be used to dissolve radioactive waste at the initial stage of the vitrification process.

The report claims that the developers of the technology considered safety issues in case of possible leaks of liquid acetonitrile, but completely omitted questions about acetonitrile vapors.

The report fell into the hands of one of the public organizations monitoring the situation in Hanford, after which the environmental department of Washington State sent an official request to the US Department of Energy in March 2022.

The Department of Energy and the Washington River Protection Services company (the developer of the technological process) do not give direct answers to questions concerning acetonitrile, and offer to discuss this problem during public hearings scheduled for May 10, 2022.

Topics: USA, Safety

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