Vitrification Cell

High-Level Waste Vitrification Success

Currently, a project is on-going to remove all debris, equipment, and components from the Vitrification Process Cell.  Once this project is completed, all process equipment, components, and cell debris will have been packaged and removed for either storage or disposal.  The final step is to vacuum the walls and floors of the cell. 

During the six-year operation of the West Valley glass melter, liquid waste was retrieved from underground waste tanks, pumped to the Vitrification Facility, concentrated and combined with glass-forming chemicals. The waste was then superheated inside the melter and poured into stainless steel canisters to cool. To date, 275 10ft tall canisters have been filled with the radioactive glass, and are in storage at the West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP) until a Federal waste repository is available to accept them.


In 2001, the WVDP continued the removal of residual waste from the waste tanks and began flushing the process systems to remove waste from piping and vessels.  The clean out of these systems included spraying the walls of the high-level waste (HLW) tanks, conducting water and acid flushes of waste transfer and draining system piping, and using special "jets" to scour the interior of vitrification process vessels, cell walls, and tank exteriors.  Flushing the process equipment with nonradioactive glass forming chemicals will culminate the High-Level Waste solidification process.

On August 14, 2002, the final radioactive airlift was made from the melter to High-Level Wast Canister WV-412. This canister was the 275th canister completed at the WVDP, and was the twelfth completed in fiscal year 2002.

In early September 2002, the melter was shut down.  Upon switching the melter off, evacuated canisters were used to draw out as much of the remaining molten material in the melter as possible, in preparation for future inspection, waste removal, and disassembly. 

In November 2004, the Vitrification Melter was removed from the Vitrification Facility, packaged in a specially designed container, and staged on site for potential off-site disposal.  The Vitrification Melter was the last large component removed from the Vitrification Cell.  The Vitrification Cell Dismantlement project was completed in mid 2005.