New Tool to Help Hanford Clean Up

New Tool to Help Hanford Clean Up »Play Video
RICHLAND - What it boils down to is a neat new toy to rake and rinse out those big underground waste tanks.

The deadline for Hanford cleanup is always looming. So the quicker the better, that's why crews are carting out a new tool to help.

It's Hanford's version of the Mars Rover. A remote control machine that goes over all kinds of stuff. And that's the point, because out at the site there's all kinds of things down in the waste.

"Motor around inside the tank and push the debris towards the pump into the tank," said Ken Wade of the Department of Energy.

For the last few months, workers at CH2M Hill have been trying out the "Foldtrack" in these mock-tanks sitting in the dirt.

It's the same size as the real deal at Hanford, but those are underground. Just a few more runthroughs like this one and it'll be ready to head into the real muck.

"There's about five to ten thousand gallons of waste that looks like rock material." said Ryan Dodd of CH2M Hill.

From start to finish, it took a half year to get the design up at running. But the real time test is when it hits the first tank. It usually takes six months to clean the bottom of a radioactive tanks these will take half the time.

That techno-toy may look little in the big tanks, but it's all steel.Weighing in at a whopping 800 pounds so it can push around the real heavy stuff.

The "Foldtrack" will be used at Hanford by February with plans to build another one later in the year.