Hanford completes cleanup at Plutonium Finishing Plant

January 12, 2022, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
Click to see full image. (Photo: DOE)

Department of Energy contractor Central Plateau Cleanup Company recently completed final demolition activities at the Hanford Site’s former Plutonium Finishing Plant, which was once one of the most hazardous facilities in the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) cleanup complex.

Check out this time-lapse video of the plant’s demolition from October 2016 through November 2021.

Project wrap-up: In November, more than 900 truckloads of sand and gravel were spread over the plant’s footprint, which once included four large facilities and several support buildings that produced nearly two-thirds of the nation’s supply of plutonium metal and oxides. The thick cover of sand and gravel is fortified with a fixative to protect the environment from any residual contamination and to limit the effects of water, wind, and heat until underground waste sites are remediated.

Final project demobilization and documentation activities—including pressure-washing equipment, surveying for contamination, and removing fencing—were completed in December.

Team effort: “So many people have contributed to this critical risk-reduction project over the years,” said Tom Teynor, EM federal project director. “Completing the demolition, cleanup, and capping of the plant site is a testament to the remarkable tenacity, resilience, and dedication of many workers, Hanford contractors, Department of Energy staff, and regulatory agency personnel.”

A little history: In operation from 1949 to 1989, the Plutonium Finishing Plant was the last step in plutonium production at the Hanford Site, near Richland, Wash. Open-air demolition of the plant began in 2016, and its last remaining structure, the main processing facility, was torn down in February 2020.

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