DOE demolishes last of ETEC buildings at California’s Santa Susana site

October 5, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
The Sodium Pump Test Facility was the last DOE building to be demolished at the Energy Technology Engineering Center site in California. (Photo: DOE)

The demolition of the final of 18 DOE-owned buildings at the Energy Technology Engineering Center (ETEC) has been completed, according to the DOE. The ETEC is the former liquid metals research facility located at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL), northwest of Los Angeles.

The last ETEC building to be demolished was the Sodium Pump Test Facility, a nine-story industrial building used for testing large pumps for liquid sodium. The building, constructed in 1972, had a red-and-white crane structure on its roof that could be seen from various parts of California’s Simi Valley.

With building demolition accomplished, the DOE said that it will continue to work cooperatively with California’s Department of Toxic Substances Control, shifting its focus to groundwater and soil remediation to complete the cleanup in SSFL’s Area IV, where the ETEC is located.

All 18 of the buildings were demolished in just over 15 months, while complying with health and safety guidelines during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to the DOE. With this completion, all of more than 270 DOE-owned original structures at ETEC have been demolished.

The DOE conducted operations at the SSFL from the 1950s to the late 1980s. ETEC, established in the 1960s, served as a premier facility for liquid metals research in the United States.

Priority cleanup: The DOE entered into an agreement with the State of California in 2020 to complete the removal of the remaining DOE-owned buildings at the ETEC site. All building materials and waste from the demolition will be removed from the site and disposed of at a licensed facility outside the state, the DOE said. The completion of building demolition at ETEC fulfills one of the DOE Office of Environmental Management’s (EM) priorities for 2021.

They said it: “This accomplishment was the direct result of an ongoing and successful collaboration with the State of California,” said EM acting assistant secretary William “Ike” White. “It builds on a new era at DOE’s Office of Environmental Management as we tackle ambitious priorities and continue to shrink the footprint of EM sites.”

Josh Mengers, acting ETEC federal project director, said, “The demolition of the ETEC buildings marks a significant step toward the DOE’s mission to clean up its former site at the SSFL. We will continue cleanup efforts, which are based upon years of scientific analysis and planning. Our highest priority is protecting human health and the environment to ensure the site remains safe for nearby communities.”

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