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almost 1,300 canisters of HLW glass have been made and are stored in an underground storage vault in the Glass Waste Storage Building (WSRC 2001).
The West Valley Demonstration Project started to vitrify its liquid high-level radioactive wastes in 1996 and completed its efforts in 2002. The West Valley facility used a joule-heating melter to produce borosilicate glass to immobilize the waste from that reprocessing plant. As of August 2002, 275 canisters of vitrified HLW had been made and stored in racks in the High-level Waste Interim Storage Facility.
Vitrification is being examined for HLW at the two other major sites: the Hanford Site and INEEL. Other technologies for immobilization are also under consideration.
A program has been struggling for several years to develop a vitrification facility at Hanford, called the Waste Processing and Immobilization Facility, to retrieve and immobilize some of the high-level wastes in the 28 double-shell tanks. This will include most of the liquid from the 149 single-shell tanks, which is being pumped into the double-shell tanks. Plans for the solid and semi-solid wastes remaining in the single-shell tanks are still being developed. Construction of the vitrification facility began in 2002, and vitrification of radioactive material is to begin in 2007. Immobilizing the waste is expected to take about 30 years. Waste will be stored onsite prior to shipment for disposal at a mined geologic repository. Some residual contamination will remain in the tanks and substantial quantities of low-activity waste will be generated in the pretreatment and immobilization process. DOE does not consider these residual and low-activity wastes to be HLW and is seeking alternatives for managing these wastes.
Plans are still being developed for the calcine HLW and salt-bearing wastes at Idaho. The calcine HLW will be converted to another form and, following treatment, it is expected to be sent to a geologic repository for disposal.