Workers in protective gear and aided by underwater cameras use a long-handled vacuum, at top, to move small pieces of radioactive debris on the floor of the spent-fuel storage basin in the K West Reactor into large steel tubes, immediately above. Separating the contaminated material is a key step toward draining and demolishing the basin.

Workers in protective gear and aided by underwater cameras use a long-handled vacuum, at top, to move small pieces of radioactive debris on the floor of the spent-fuel storage basin in the K West Reactor into large steel tubes, immediately above. Separating the contaminated material is a key step toward draining and demolishing the basin.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Workers with EM Richland Operations Office contractor Central Plateau Cleanup Company (CPCCo) are making progress preparing the Hanford Site’s K West Reactor spent-fuel storage basin for draining and demolition.

Since last summer, crews have been moving and sorting radioactive debris into underwater bins in the 1.2 million-gallon basin. Standing on grates above 16 feet of water, they use long-handled tools and underwater cameras to place the material into vertical steel tubes, which will be filled with grout and removed during demolition.

“We are encouraged by the progress both inside and outside the basin to safely advance this important risk-reduction project,” said Andy Wiborg, EM team lead for cleanup in the K Reactor Area. “Removing the basin will mark a key step in our mission to complete work in Hanford’s K West Reactor Area.”

Outside the K West Reactor, crews are installing equipment that will pump out and filter water from the reactor’s 1.2 million-gallon basin. Workers will transport the contaminated water by trucks to Hanford’s Effluent Treatment Facility for processing and disposal.

Outside the K West Reactor, crews are installing equipment that will pump out and filter water from the reactor’s 1.2 million-gallon basin. Workers will transport the contaminated water by trucks to Hanford’s Effluent Treatment Facility for processing and disposal.

Outside the facility, workers are installing a system to pump out and filter the contaminated water. Workers will truck the water to Hanford’s Effluent Treatment Facility for processing and disposal.

Once the basin is drained, workers will fill it with a concrete-like substance. An auger will blend the contents of the steel tubes to prepare the material for removal and packaging during basin demolition.

“A complex project like this takes a tremendous amount of teamwork, and I’m proud of the coordination and communication between all of our crews,” said Mike Kruzic, CPCCo 100 K Closure Projects manager. “It’s exciting to see the positive results of all of our planning and preparation as we work to eliminate another risk to the nearby Columbia River.”

The concrete basin is approximately 130 feet by 65 feet and was built in the early 1950s to temporarily store irradiated uranium fuel from the core of the K West Reactor during plutonium production operations.

Seven of Hanford’s reactors have been “cocooned” within protective enclosures after workers removed their basins and demolished support structures. K West Reactor will be the eighth. The ninth, the B Reactor, has been preserved as the world’s first full-scale plutonium production reactor and is part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.