WRPS begins pilot-scale testing at Hanford’s tank farms

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WRPS begins pilot-scale testing at Hanford’s tank farms

Washington River Protection Solutions is field testing new technologies for potential application in the tank farms for detecting and monitoring vapors and their sources. Technologies being evaluated include infrared cameras that can detect chemical vapors in work areas, portable area sensors equipped with multiple chemical sensors that can detect specific vapors, in-stack and area vapor detection equipment, and portable meteorological stations to monitor local weather conditions in work areas.

The Vapors Pilot-Scale Test began this week in the AP tank farm.  In accordance with the Tank Vapor Assessment Team Implementation Plan, as data is collected and analyzed it will be provided to employees and stakeholders.  The goal of the testing is to identify technologies that may be viable and capable of being installed in an integrated system throughout the tank farms.

Prior to beginning the pilot test, several instruments were running.  They are capable of measuring total volatile organic compounds (VOCs), ammonia and nitrous oxide.

Early on Aug. 9, a sampling device associated with the testing at the south end of tank AP-108 registered above 2 parts per million (ppm) VOCs between about 2:30 and 7:30 a.m.  A gradual increase in total VOCs from 2 to 10 ppm occurred from about 3:30 and 6:30 a.m. (peak) and decreased below 2 ppm by 7:30 a.m.  The wind speed was very low and from the southeast.  The source of the VOCs was not determined.

The Open-Path Fourier Transform Infrared (OP-FTIR) was running along the AP farm west fence line capable of detecting potential vapors. Starting at about 1 a.m. and continuing to about 7:30 a.m., the OP-FTIR registered a reading within the infrared spectrum.  The instruments did detect very low levels of ammonia below regulatory levels of concern (<100 ppb), from about 1 a.m. to 2:30 a.m.  At the time this data was collected, the temperature dropped by 10 degrees in less than five minutes and the wind speed was very low and from the southeast.

The recent data will be posted on the Hanford vapor website when the analysis is completed.  The instruments will continue to be tested for applicability in a Hanford tank farm, the initial results are promising and have the potential of further enhancing our already robust safety tools to protect our workers.