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NISKAYUNA, N.Y. DOE officials approved the transfer of the former Separations Process Research Unit (SPRU) areas to the Office of Naval Reactors (NR) on Dec. 16, capping a successful remediation and completing an EM 2020 priority.

The milestone resulted from a joint effort between DOE, NR, and the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, and advanced EM’s legacy cleanup mission. The former SPRU nuclear facilities were located at the laboratory.

“Completing the SPRU project removes the longstanding liability of a Cold War-era nuclear facility and enables returning the former SPRU areas to the Naval Reactors landlord for future site operations. Significant credit is due to the government-contractor team that completed this project,” said Hugh Davis, program manager for SPRU.

This 1948 photo shows construction of tank vaults at the former Separations Process Research Unit.
This 1948 photo shows construction of tank vaults at the former Separations Process Research Unit.
A view of the restored site of the former Building H2 at the former Separations Process Research Unit.
A view of the restored site of the former Building H2 at the former Separations Process Research Unit.

Prior to the transfer, the joint team restored and revegetated the former building grounds, issued final radiological and chemical cleanup reports, and constructed a temporary storage area for 24 containers of waste that will be treated and disposed offsite. 

The SPRU nuclear facilities consisted of a main processing facility known as Building G2, a waste processing facility called Building H2, underground tank vaults, and an underground pipe tunnel connecting the two buildings. Buildings G2 and H2 housed process cells with thick concrete shield walls and contained more than 8 miles of process piping and 85 process vessels with capacities ranging from 5 to 10,000 gallons.

SPRU operated from 1949 to 1951 as a pilot plant for researching plutonium production methods.

The SPRU facilities were decommissioned in 1953. That work included flushing the process equipment and placing the facilities in safe caretaking status. The deactivation, decontamination, and demolition work began in 2007 and was completed last year.

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