Crews process some of the roughly 1,700 drums of waste that have been processed at the 618-10 Burial Ground.

RICHLAND, Wash.EM’s Richland Operations Office (RL) and cleanup contractor Washington Closure Hanford (WCH) have excavated and processed the majority of drums at the 618-10 Burial Ground, one of the Hanford Site’s most hazardous burial grounds.

   Since beginning cleanup of the burial ground in April 2011, workers have dug up and processed about 1,700 drums of waste from the trenches. The most contaminated drums are lined inside with concrete to shield high-dose waste material. The drums are treated in a steel box where the waste material is crushed and mixed with grout and solidified before being sent to the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility (ERDF), Hanford’s onsite landfill for low-level, radioactive, and chemical mixed waste. 

   “This is a safe way to process the waste and prepare it for disposal, and it avoids the cost of storing and deferring treatment of the waste,” said Mark French, EM federal project director for the River Corridor. Other drums excavated have contained depleted uranium shavings in oil, oxide powders, and miscellaneous debris.

   Work also continues to remediate 94 buried vertical pipe units that contain moderate- to high-activity waste. Because part of the trenches are close to the vertical pipe units, the remaining drums will not be removed until the vertical pipe unit cleanup is completed. WCH estimates there could be nearly 300 drums remaining in the trenches. 

   “We’ve made remarkable progress cleaning up the burial ground thanks to a team committed to working safely and efficiently on an everyday basis,” said Scott Sax, WCH president and project manager. “The site is full of unknown hazards, which require careful, detailed planning and deliberate execution. I could not be more proud of the entire 618-10 project team and those who have supported the cleanup effort.” 

   In addition, workers have removed about 350,000 tons of contaminated soil and other miscellaneous items such as glove boxes and process equipment. The majority of waste has been disposed of at ERDF.