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Massive Hanford Test Reactor Removed - Plutonium Recycle Test Reactor removed from Hanford’s 300 Area

January 22, 2014 - 12:00pm

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RICHLAND, WA – Hanford’s River Corridor contractor, Washington Closure Hanford, has met a significant cleanup challenge on the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Hanford Site by removing a 1,082-ton nuclear test reactor from the 300 Area.

The River Corridor is a 220-square-mile section of land bordering the Columbia River and is DOE’s largest environmental cleanup closure project. The 300 Area is located about a mile north of Richland and a quarter-mile from the Columbia River. It was home to Hanford’s research, development and fuel fabrication activities for nearly 60 years.

“Removing the reactor was one of the most complex and hazardous projects Washington Closure has faced since beginning work on the Columbia River corridor in 2005,” said Scott Sax, Washington Closure president. “It took months of detailed planning and extensive preparatory work to reach the point where the reactor could be removed. This achievement was made possible because of our highly skilled workforce committed to completing this job safely to protect the Columbia River.”

The Plutonium Recycle Test Reactor was the largest of Hanford’s experimental reactors used for developing and testing alternative fuels for the commercial nuclear power industry. The reactor operated from 1960 to 1969 and was housed underground beneath the 309 Building’s dome structure. Washington Closure removed the 67-ton dome in early 2011 and its associated 100-foot-tall exhaust stack in 2010.

“Despite challenges, the progress being made to clean up Hanford’s River Corridor is significant – and the removal of this test reactor is another visible sign of cleanup progress near the Columbia River. The move clears the way for future industrial use of this land,” said Matt McCormick, manager of the DOE Richland Operations Office.

The reactor’s transport weight is 1,538 tons. It will be secured and packaged on a high-payload-capable Goldhofer trailer and transported for disposal at the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility, Hanford’s onsite landfill for low-level mixed waste.

Washington Closure is a limited liability company led by URS and its partners Bechtel National and CH2M Hill. Through December 2013, Washington Closure is 90 percent complete with its contract, having demolished 296 of 321 buildings, cleaned up 465 of 591 waste sites, placed two nuclear reactors in interim safe storage, and disposed of 9.5 million tons of contaminated material in the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility.

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