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VENTING OCCURS IN HANFORD WASTE TANK 101-SY

 VENTING OCCURS IN HANFORD WASTE TANK 101-SY
 RICHLAND, Wash., Dec. 5 /PRNewswire/ -- The anticipated venting of


potentially flammable gases from a radioactive waste storage tank occurred without incident at 11:16 a.m. yesterday. Tank 101-SY is located at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Hanford site in south central Washington.
 The venting lasted about five minutes, said Harry Harmon, Westinghouse Hanford Company's vice president of waste tank safety, operations and remediation.
 The exact amount of gas released hasn't been calculated, but initial readings indicate the level of the waste in the tank had decreased eight inches so far, he added.
 If enough gas was released by the venting, technicians will have a "window" of about three weeks to safely extract a top-to-bottom sample of the waste inside the underground tank. They also plan to install new ventilation equipment and calibrate other instruments used to monitor the tank.
 One full "core" sample was taken from Tank 101-SY shortly after its gas venting in May. Another venting occurred in August, as predicted, but not enough gas was released to meet the company's safety requirements for obtaining samples from the tank.
 Scientists were able to watch the Wednesday venting, using a video camera that was mounted in the underground tank in June. They said they saw significant motion in the waste which indicated the expected rollover of the material in the tank. The August venting also was recorded on videotape, providing important information that could not have been obtained through waste sampling.
 Scientists want at least one more sample to analyze besides those taken in May. Analyzing the waste will help DOE understand why gases accumulate within Tank 101-SY, instead of rising above the waste and out through the tank's ventilation system, and how to remedy the issue.
 The final analysis report from the May waste sampling is undergoing final reviews and should be ready soon, added Harmon.
 Since the safety concern was raised in March 1990, Tank 101-SY has vented six previous times -- in April, August and October 1990, and February, May and August 1991. After each venting, DOE has been able to improve the equipment used to monitor the tank.
 In addition to sampling the waste a second time, DOE plans to use the upcoming work period to improve Tank 101-SY's ventilation system. The planned improvements will increase the airflow inside the tank to further dilute the gases inside.
 Prior to the venting, DOE had improved its ability to track the gas buildup in Tank 101-SY through the use of a computer system developed in cooperation with Los Alamos National Laboratory.
 -0- 12/5/91
 /CONTACT: Craig Kuhlman of Westinghouse Hanford, 509-376-6826/ CO: Westinghouse Hanford Company ST: Washington IN: OIL SU:


GK-CK -- SE004 -- 9654 12/05/91 11:57 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Dec 5, 1991
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