RICHLAND – The demolition of one of the most hazardous buildings at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Washington state is set to begin in the coming weeks.
The Department of Energy and its contractor, CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co., expect demolition of the Plutonium Reclamation Facility to start late this month or in early November, The Tri-City Herald reported.
The sprawling site in southeastern Washington has for decades made plutonium for nuclear weapons, including the plutonium for the bomb dropped on Nagasaki to end World War II.
The site is now engaged in a massive cleanup of the resulting radioactive wastes.
The DOE is facing a revised legal deadline to have the entire Plutonium Finishing Plant torn down to slab on grade by next Sept. 30.
Demolition had been expected to start at the Plutonium Reclamation Facility as soon as late August after Hanford regulators in July granted DOE an extra year to complete the teardown of the plant.
Work has already begun to remove eight plutonium-tainted glove boxes that are not part of the building’s structure before demolition begins. At the boxes, workers would reach their hands through attached gloves to work with radioactive material.
“It removes additional hazards from the building prior to demolition, which is good,” said Tom Bratvold, CH2M vice president at the plant.
Bratvold said removing the eight glove boxes is the “the last major activity before we are ready for demolition.”
Four other glove boxes are part of the building’s structure and will be removed during demolition.
The roof of part of the building was lifted off by crane in late September and this weekend the remainder of the roof covering the four-story-high section of the building will be removed, weather permitting.
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