An operator at the West Valley Demonstration Project uses a heavy-duty excavator with a hydraulic hammer attachment to safely remove the remaining section of the Main Plant Process Building’s ventilation stack, weighing more than 125,000 pounds, pictured at top-right.

An operator at the West Valley Demonstration Project uses a heavy-duty excavator with a hydraulic hammer attachment to safely remove the remaining section of the Main Plant Process Building’s ventilation stack, weighing more than 125,000 pounds, pictured at top-right.

WEST VALLEY, N.Y. – The skyline of the West Valley Demonstration Project is forever changed after EM crews recently removed the remaining portion of the Main Plant Process Building’s iconic ventilation stack.

Workers successfully tore down the lower 56 feet of the stack, weighing more than 125,000 pounds, after extensive planning and use of engineering controls and best practices. Crews had previously removed the upper portion of the stack measuring 110 feet.

The 166-foot-tall cement-reinforced stainless steel stack, positioned on top of the five-story Main Plant, was part of the facility’s ventilation exhaust system.

The Main Plant is one of the last remaining major facilities at West Valley. Its successful demolition will further reduce environmental risks and position the site for the next phase in cleanup. The demolition began in September and is expected to take approximately 30 months to complete.

With the help of heavy equipment, an operator safely chipped away at the ventilation stack base before it came down in a pre-planned direction for its controlled removal.
With the help of heavy equipment, an operator safely chipped away at the ventilation stack base before it came down in a pre-planned direction for its controlled removal.

To bring down the lower portion of the stack, an operator with cleanup contractor CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley (CHBWV) used heavy equipment to slowly chip away at its base, weakening its structural integrity. He carefully moved the stack in a pre-planned direction for its controlled removal, allowing the weakened base of the stack to come down on its side in a prearranged area. Workers used machines to control dust and any potential contamination at its source.

“Once again, the CHBWV team did an excellent job in their pre-planning and execution of this challenging work,” West Valley Office of Project Management Assistant Director Stephen Bousquet said. “This work evolution has changed the landscape of the West Valley site and will become a reminder of the ongoing progress here.”

Leading up to this cleanup accomplishment, workers had dismantled most of the former fuel reprocessing cell walls and structural steel in and around the remaining portion of the stack. In addition to taking down the upper portion of the stack, workers had previously demolished several buildings surrounding the Main Plant to prepare for the stack removal. They also flushed and sprayed the inside of the stack with fixative to control any potential contamination.

“Developing a comprehensive plan and using it with a deliberate approach is a combination for safety and success,” CHBWV Facility Disposition Manager Tom Dogal said. “Our team did an excellent job in making sure the remaining portion of the ventilation stack was removed safely and compliantly.”

The stack will be reduced in size, packaged and shipped off-site for disposal.