Hanford workers have finished installing the major components of a mobile arm retrieval system into an underground tank of radioactive waste for the first time.
The new robotic arm, called MARS, is expected to be ready to start retrieving radioactive waste from Tank C-107 in mid-September.
If it works as expected, it will be “totally a game changer,” said Scott Sax, manager of single-shell tank retrieval and closure for Washington River Protection Solutions.
Hanford has 142 single-shell tanks, some of which have leaked in the past, that need to have waste retrieved and transferred to 28 sturdier double-shell tanks until the waste can be treated.
But getting high level radioactive waste out of the enclosed, underground tanks through 12-inch risers has been a challenge. Multiple technologies have been needed to retrieve waste from many of the tanks worked on so far, particularly as retrieval gets to the hard waste at a tank’s bottom.
Hanford officials are expecting MARS to operate more quickly and efficiently, tackling not only the bulk of waste but also the difficult waste at the bottom of tanks