RICHLAND, Wash. – Workers with EM Richland Operations Office (RL) contractor Central Plateau Cleanup Company (CPCCo) recently completed final demolition activities at Hanford’s former Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP), literally putting a cap on what was once one of the most hazardous facilities in the EM cleanup complex.
Final project demobilization and documentation activities — including pressure-washing equipment, surveying for contamination and removing fencing — were completed in December.
In November, crews spread more than 900 truckloads of sand and gravel over the plant’s footprint, which once included four large facilities and several support buildings that produced nearly two-thirds of the nation’s supply of plutonium metal and oxides. The thick cover of sand and gravel is fortified with a fixative to protect the environment from any residual contamination and limit the effects of water, wind and heat until underground waste sites are remediated.
Check out this time lapse video of the PFP demolition from October 2016 through November 2021.
“So many people have contributed to this critical risk-reduction project over the years,” said Tom Teynor, RL federal project director. “Completing the demolition, cleanup and capping of the plant site is a testament to the remarkable tenacity, resilience and dedication of many workers, Hanford contractors, Department of Energy staff and regulatory agency personnel.”
Placement of the cover follows the removal late last summer of the remaining rubble from demolition of the Plutonium Reclamation Facility and soil sampling beneath the concrete slabs of that facility and the nearby Americium Recovery Facility, two of the former plant’s main buildings. The demolition rubble was safely packaged and disposed at the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility, Hanford’s onsite engineered landfill.
Removal of radioactive and hazardous material from the plant site not only reduces risk on Hanford’s Central Plateau, but also allows for safe access to surrounding areas for progressing other cleanup activities.
The recent progress follows the historic demolition of PFP’s main processing facility in February 2020. Just weeks later — with removal of rubble from the reclamation facility about 25% complete — the worksite was placed in a safe configuration when Hanford went into a minimum essential operations posture at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. The workforce remobilized to continue the work, and safety has remained the top priority.
“I’m proud of this team for maintaining a deliberate speed and staying focused on safety over these past two years,” said Robert Wade, CPCCo closure manager for the PFP. “We not only successfully navigated a number of COVID-19 controls, but also safely persevered through record heat last summer. Completing this project is certainly a highlight in Hanford’s cleanup history.”
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