A railroad engineer prepares a shipment of demolition waste from the West Valley Demonstration Project prior to it leaving the site en route to a disposal facility.

A railroad engineer prepares a shipment of demolition waste from the West Valley Demonstration Project prior to it leaving the site en route to a disposal facility. The first shipment of 12 waste containers from the site’s Main Plant Process Building demolition was filled with debris from the ongoing teardown. Shipping the waste by rail enhances safety by reducing vehicle traffic associated with completing the shipments via truck.

WEST VALLEY, N.Y.EM and its cleanup contractor at the West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP) have successfully shipped the first 12 containers of waste from the demolition of the Main Plant Process Building by rail to a disposal facility.

Crews with CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley (CHBWV) expect to ship approximately 1,500 containers of waste from the building takedown over the course of the project, which is scheduled for completion in 2025. The demolition project further reduces environmental risks and positions the site for the next phase of cleanup.

“The rail line is being used for the deconstruction of the Main Plant Process Building and future cleanup work at the site,” EM WVDP Main Plant Project Director Stephen Bousquet said. “This rail line represents a better method for waste disposition that’s safer and more efficient. It will help to accelerate remediation efforts in the future.”

The first shipment of waste for disposal from the demolition of the Main Plant Process Building departs the West Valley Demonstration Project.
The first shipment of waste for disposal from the demolition of the Main Plant Process Building departs the West Valley Demonstration Project.

Officials with WVDP made a splash at the National Cleanup Workshop last month when they came on stage to make a surprise announcement that workers had launched the teardown of the Main Plant, fulfilling an EM 2022 priority.

Shipping the demolition waste by rail enhances safety by reducing vehicle traffic associated with completing the shipments via truck. Train shipments increase efficiency by allowing more material to be shipped at once compared to trucking. The train shipments also cost less than truck shipments, saving taxpayer dollars.

The site previously worked with the Buffalo & Pittsburgh Railroad (BPRR) Administration to rehabilitate the Western New York Nuclear Service Center rail spur and BPRR’s main line prior to its use.

The EM workforce at WVDP conducted significant work over the past two decades to prepare the five-story, 35,100-square-foot reinforced concrete Main Plant for demolition in a manner protective of human health and the surrounding environment. Employees safely reduced radioactivity in the facility by over 98% by removing more than seven miles of contaminated piping and over 50 tons of contaminated equipment.

From 1966 to 1972, the Main Plant operated as a commercial reprocessing facility to recover reusable plutonium and uranium from spent nuclear reactor fuel. During that period, approximately 640 metric tons of irradiated nuclear fuel was processed.