While adapting operations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, EM has continued closing in on a key 2020 priority to begin demolition at the Portsmouth Site’s X-326 Process Building, and is making headway in cleanup projects at other sites.
At the Portsmouth Site, EM recently verified the half-mile-long building, used for uranium enrichment from the 1950s to 2001, as radiologically safe for demolition. View this video footage of recent work on the project.
“A lot of painstaking preparation will ensure X-326 is taken down in a manner protective of human health and the environment,” said Robert Edwards, manager of EM’s Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office. Edwards added that lessons learned and techniques developed at X-326 are helping facilitate deactivation of the site’s other two large gaseous-diffusion buildings.
Having removed thousands of process gas components, EM and its contractors, led by Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth, documented millions of measurements to ensure the building and its contents would meet criteria for demolition and disposal. More recently, the building’s large tan-gray transite siding panels have begun to turn blue with a fixative coating to lock in dust and any potentially friable asbestos, allowing them to be removed and wrapped safely. A newly constructed and lined water-detention system will capture dust-control and rain runoff water for onsite treatment.
Edwards said these and other recent projects at X-326 and elsewhere continue to move the Portsmouth Site on its path to final closure.
“With the safe demolition of X-326 likely beginning in fiscal year 2021, we will start to see a fundamental transformation of the Portsmouth skyline,” he said.
Anticipated for demolition by the end of this year, the 320-foot-tall, red-and-white stack was used for a small research reactor that DOE shut down more than 20 years ago. The HFBR provided a source of neutrons for multidisciplinary scientific research in materials science, chemistry, biology, and physics.
Crews are on track to finish the east 180-degree side of the HFBR stack and begin asbestos abatement on the remaining west 180-degree side. They remain on schedule to finish the exterior lead-contaminated paint coating abatement in early November, and full demolition by the end of 2020.
Workers continue to make headway at the Radioactive Materials Handling Facility (RMHF) at the Energy Technology Engineering Center (ETEC) in Ventura County, California.
The DOE and the state of California signed a consent order in May to demolish 10 of the remaining DOE-owned buildings at the ETEC site. Demolition started at the nuclear and liquid metals research site in July, and since that time, DOE has safely taken down nine of the 10 buildings. Demolition of the 10th building — Building 4022, formerly used for materials storage and processing prior to offsite shipment — is on track to be completed in December.
Removing all 10 RMHF facilities, which were constructed in 1959 and used for the processing, packaging, and shipment of radioactive and mixed hazardous wastes during site operations that ended in 1988, will reduce potential risk of release of hazardous substances due to wildfires or erosion from severe storms.