Workers use a lift to access part of the 200 West Groundwater Treatment Facility.
Pump-and-treat construction managers David Fink (left) and Delise Pargmann (right) review information for the LEED gold certification of the main process building for the 200 West Groundwater Treatment Facility.
RICHLAND, Wash. – A major facility for treating groundwater contaminated by plutonium production at the Hanford site has received the first Leadership for Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) gold certification for sustainable design in the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management (EM) complex of sites that conducted nuclear weapons development and government-sponsored nuclear energy research.
DOE’s Richland Operations Office and contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company achieved the LEED gold certification for the 200 West Groundwater Treatment Facility, which was built to remove contamination from a 5-square-mile area of groundwater beneath several facilities that produced plutonium from the 1940s to the 1980s. Approximately 450 billion gallons of water and contaminated liquids were discharged from facilities across the Hanford site during the production years, including those facilities located near the center of the site, called the 200 West Area.
“This facility shows the Department’s commitment to restoring the environment at Hanford,” said DOE River and Plateau Assistant Manager J.D. Dowell. “The facility is also one of the largest groundwater treatment systems of its kind throughout the DOE complex for both radiological and non-radiological contaminants. It will help protect Hanford’s groundwater and prevent the movement of contamination toward the Columbia River.”
“Designing and constructing a high-performance green process facility is a long-term commitment to sustainability for the Hanford site,” said Kent Dorr, CH2M HILL Vice President for Engineering, Project and Construction. “Achieving LEED certification required diligence on the part of the entire project team because the focus is on energy use and recycling goals for both construction and operation.”
The groundwater treatment facility is believed to be a first of its kind in another way: it is capable of removing more types of radioactive and chemical contaminants than any other facility of its type in the DOE complex. Among the organic, inorganic, and metallic contaminants that can be treated are carbon tetrachloride, nitrate, technetium and uranium. The system can process 2,500 gallons of water per minute, and the treatment capacity can be increased to 3,750 gallons per minute. Its largest process building was specifically designed to achieve the LEED gold certification.
LEED is an internationally recognized green building certification system established by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and verified by the Green Building Certification Institute, which rates buildings on criteria such as energy savings, water efficiency, carbon-dioxide emissions reduction and indoor air quality. Gold certification is the second-highest benchmark set by the council for high-performance green buildings. The first is platinum.
“With each new LEED-certified building, we get one step closer to USGBC’s vision of a sustainable-built environment within a generation,” said Rick Fedrizzi, USGBC President, CEO and Founding Chair. “As the newest member of the LEED family of green buildings, the 200 West Groundwater Treatment Facility is an important addition to the growing strength of the green building movement.”
DOE and CH2M HILL met stringent requirements for the LEED gold certification. The criteria required use of specific materials and waste-handling and construction practices to be environmentally responsible and reduce long-term costs. In the project:
• Approximately 50 percent of steel used was recycled steel;
• Over 75 percent of construction waste was diverted from landfills;
• 420 tons of recycled concrete were used;
• 9 tons of paper and cardboard were recycled;
• 42 tons of metal were recycled; and
• Translucent panels reduce the need for interior lighting.
The building’s efficient design is expected to result in an energy cost savings of more than 70 percent over the life of the facility. The building will also meet new DOE-mandated green building standards that address site sustainability, water efficiency, renewable energy, conservation of materials and resources, and indoor environmental quality.
Construction of the facility was completed in 2011. Following acceptance testing, operations are expected to begin this summer.