WEST VALLEY, N.Y. – Crews last week successfully completed safe demolition of the 10,000-square-foot vitrification plant once used to solidify thousands of gallons of radioactive waste at the West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP). The building removal is EM’s largest and most complex environmental cleanup achievement at the West Valley site to date.
“The safe demolition of the Vitrification Facility is an important accomplishment in the progress to decommission the site,” said Bryan Bower, EM’s WVDP director. “For some of our workers, this was a bittersweet accomplishment, as they were here when we constructed the Vitrification Facility decades ago. We applaud the tremendous effort required to safely remove this nuclear facility.”
Scott Anderson, president of cleanup contractor CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley, applauded the workforce for its deliberate planning and execution of critical work.
“Protecting the workforce and the environment were paramount during the demolition process,” Anderson said. “We completed this challenging milestone using lessons learned, and look forward to applying those best practices on future projects.”
Workers removed utilities and equipment, and completed other deactivation work to reduce contamination risks prior to demolition, which began in September 2017.
The 50-foot-tall facility was designed with thick reinforced concrete walls. Using a variety of heavy equipment and specialized tools, workers tore down the building in three phases, including the safe removal of four in-cell coolers weighing 7,188 pounds each, six shield windows, and a 38,000-pound process crane. In the final phase of demolition, crews removed two doors — one weighing 60 tons, the other 100 tons — as well as cranes and other equipment.
From 1996 to 2002, the facility was used to solidify 600,000 gallons of radioactive waste stored at the site. That waste was generated from spent fuel reprocessing at WVDP from 1966 to 1972. EM continues cleanup activities at the site.
-Contributor: Joseph Pillittere