The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is responsible for one of the largest nuclear cleanup efforts in the world,
managing the legacy of five decades of nuclear weapons production at various sites throughout the United States. One of those sites is Hanford. Located in southeastern Washington state, Hanford is a 586-square-mile site created in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project, America’s effort to develop the atomic bomb.
Nowhere in the DOE complex is cleanup more challenging than at Hanford, where work involves large volumes of several different kinds of waste in a number of different forms. Hanford cleanup began in 1989, when a landmark agreement was reached between DOE, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Washington state. Known as the Tri-Party Agreement, the accord established hundreds of milestones for bringing the Hanford Site into compliance with federal and state environmental regulations.
After nearly three decades of cleanup,
considerable progress has been made at Hanford,
reducing the risk the site poses to the health and safety of workers, the public, and the environment.
Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS)
Today, Washington River Protection Solutions (WRPS) is the Department of Energy’s Tank Operations Contractor responsible for managing Hanford’s radioactive and chemical waste stored in underground tanks and preparing for treatment. Most of it will be transformed into a stable, glass product through a process called vitrification. The Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant is being constructed at Hanford to perform the vitrification work.