NISKAYUNA, N.Y., -- Workers have begun the last phase of building demolition at the Separations Process Research Unit (SPRU).

On October 13, the Department of Energy Environmental Management (EM) and its cleanup contractor began removing the tent enclosure at Building H2, which at one time housed the interior of the one-time research facility. The enclosure was equipped with high-efficiency filters to ensure protection of the public and the environment.

Previous activities included removal of hazardous and radioactive materials; isolation of utility systems; and removal of tanks, vessels, components, and miles of piping and tubing. Successful completion of these efforts led EM to determine the remaining structure could be safely demolished without the need for the enclosure.

Starting open-air demolition on H2 was the latest milestone for the project collocated at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in Niskayuna, outside Schenectady, N.Y.

H2 was one of two buildings at SPRU that supported improvements in the chemical separation of plutonium for the nation's strategic defense early in the Cold War. Open-air demolition of the other building, G2, began in July 2016 and is nearly completed.

Building H2 under tent enclosure

Demolition work at H2 culminates several years of preparation by EM and its demolition contractor, AECOM.

"The EM SPRU Field Office staff and our AECOM contractor worked together closely to safely and successfully arrive at this major project milestone," said Federal Project Director Steven Feinberg.

AECOM SPRU Disposition Project Manager Jeff Selvey said completing demolition of Building H2 will help accelerate efforts to safely remove the Cold War-era nuclear processing facilities.

"It's a significant step forward in achieving EM's goal of eliminating the risks inherent in these 60-year-old facilities," Selvey said.

Workers have begun the last phase of building demolition
Section of Building H2

Building H2 at the Separations Process Research Unit was emptied of hazardous materials under a ventilated tent enclosure in preparation for demolition. Photo: Department of Energy