Hanford K East Reactor cocooning project taking shape

March 8, 2022, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions
An artist’s rendering of the K East Reactor safe-storage enclosure. (Photo: DOE)

Preparations are being made to enclose, or “cocoon,” the K East Reactor, the seventh of nine former reactors at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site. The cocooning project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Watch this video for more on the project.

The work: The backfilling of the area around the former K East Reactor with approximately 34,000 cubic yards of a sand and gravel mixture has been completed. The pouring of a 6-foot-thick concrete foundation to support the construction of a massive steel structure over the reactor building began this month. The foundation will be completed in multiple pours over the next month.

The steel enclosure is designed to protect the reactor building while the radioactivity in the reactor core decays over the next several decades, making it safer and easier to complete the disposition of the reactor in the future.

The weather factor: “A mild winter has allowed us to make excellent progress on this critical risk-reduction project,” said Mark French, the DOE’s Richland Operations Office federal project director for Hanford’s Central Plateau Cleanup Project. “Placing the K East Reactor in interim safe storage is a key component of our mission to complete cleanup along the Columbia River.”

History: The K East Reactor operated from 1955 to 1971. Hanford’s K West Reactor will be the eighth to be placed in interim safe storage. The ninth Hanford reactor, the B Reactor, is now a national historical landmark and part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.

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