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A 4,500-pound floor saw prototype tested in 2017 at Hanford’s Maintenance and Storage Facility is now being remotely tested at the 324 Building mock-up after incorporating lessons learned into the final design.
A 4,500-pound floor saw prototype tested in 2017 at Hanford’s Maintenance and Storage Facility is now being remotely tested at the 324 Building mock-up after incorporating lessons learned into the final design.

RICHLAND, Wash.Hanford Site workers continue to make significant progress removing radioactive soil under a former engineering laboratory.

Deploying a remote excavator, workers with EM Richland Operations Office contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company (CHPRC) recently began removing contaminated debris from B Cell in the 324 Building, one of four hot cells where operators once handled radioactive materials using remote-handling equipment.

Removing the debris paves the way for installing an industrial saw to cut through the steel-lined hot cell and concrete floor to remotely access and excavate contaminated soil under the hot cell. Operators are currently training on the floor saw at the 324 Building mock-up. The mock-up includes a replica of the hot cell, which allows workers to test equipment and techniques in a clean environment before performing work at the 324 Building.

“The development and deployment of key equipment — such as the remote excavator and the floor saw — is driving significant progress toward the eventual remediation of hazardous material under the hot cell,” said Ben Vannah, EM project manager. “Remediation of this facility will reduce a significant risk to the Columbia River.”

A recently installed network of lights and cameras gives workers a better look inside the radioactive B Cell at the Hanford Site’s 324 Building.
A recently installed network of lights and cameras gives workers a better look inside the radioactive B Cell at the Hanford Site’s 324 Building.

To protect the building during remediation and keep workers safe, crews recently modified drilling equipment to improve contamination control after they discovered higher than expected contamination during drilling in the building’s basement mid-March.

The project team stopped drilling activities, evaluated the conditions, and implemented the enhancements necessary before restarting the activities this month. The controls will keep workers safe as they drill and install micropiles to strengthen the building’s foundation while remote equipment is used to excavate contaminated soil below B Cell.

“I would like to thank the workers and project management for following safety protocols and working together to modify the equipment and safety controls,” said Brian Vance, Hanford Site manager. “We will continue to take a conservative approach to contamination controls and safety to ensure our workforce is protected.”

After removing the highly radioactive soil, the 324 Building can safely be demolished, eliminating one of the last remaining facilities in the 300 Area.

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