"MARS" prototype introduced for cleaning Hanford waste tanks
PASCO, Wash. - A technology used for hundreds of years to dredge gold off river bottoms will now be helping clean waste tanks at the Hanford site.
It's essentially a vacuum, powered by pressurized water that will suck radioactive waste out of single shell storage tanks. The waste will then be transferred into more secure double shell tanks that will prevent the waste from leaking into the soil. There the waste will await the vitrification process.
The new Mobile Arm Retrieval System or "MARS," is not only proving to be more efficient, but also more dependable.
"It's simply a water jet that powers the entire system," says MARS Testing Director Rob Corbin. "Instead of complicated vacuum pumps, it's simply a water jet system with no moving parts and is easy to maintain and reliable."
"This is a prototype, we're continuing testing but we're optimistic this is going to be a big step of improvement in our retrieval efforts," says Steve Pfaff who is the Federal Project Director for Single Shell Tank Retrievals.
The Department of Energy's Office of River Protection hopes to put the system to use in 2012. The goal is to clean 16 of the tanks by 2014. The project is being funded by stimulus money.