The Metals Plant is shown before workers removed panels from the structure ln 2012.
Workers remove panels from the Metals Plant in September 2012.
About half of the complex was demolished by the end of December 2012, ahead of schedule.
An ultra-high-reach demolition machine — similar to equipment used to demolish Yankee Stadium — cuts into upper portions of the building’s last standing section late last month.
A view of the Metals Plant site in February 2013.
EM remediation contractor LATA Environmental Services of Kentucky reduced the C-340 Metals Complex to a slab nearly two months ahead of schedule and within budget. The project began in September 2012.
Better known as the Metals Plant, the facility was used to manufacture uranium metal during the Cold War and contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), radionuclides and asbestos. It is the first uranium processing facility at the site to undergo full-scale demolition.
“This is a major accomplishment toward cleaning up the site,” said Rob Seifert, DOE Paducah project manager. “Safe, compliant, timely and efficient removal of these types of facilities is a priority for DOE.”
The Metals Plant encompassed about 1.5 million cubic feet. Demolition of a single-story section was completed in mid-December, followed by removal of a four-story section. A seven-story, 120-foot-high section — the tallest building at the site — was the last to be taken down. Waste generated from the project is scheduled for disposition by April 2013.
To prepare for demolition, workers wore protective equipment and used high-reach lifts to manually remove about 2,000 panels of cement asbestos siding. The panels were roughly 10½ feet long by 3½ feet wide and weighed as much as 170 pounds. Heavy equipment lowered the panels to the ground.
Crews in December identified more crumbly asbestos in parts of the complex and hand removed the material during three weeks of wintry weather so that demolition could resume.
“The team’s hard work overcame this hurdle, minimized the delay to the demolition contractor and maintained progress toward final demolition,” Seifert said.
Hand removing the siding was one of several measures specified in a work plan approved by DOE and regulatory agencies to prevent releasing asbestos from the siding during demolition. Other controls included allowing only those directly involved in removal to enter the work zone; monitoring the air in worker breathing zones and on the perimeter of the work zone; applying special paint to the siding to guard against asbestos becoming airborne; and spraying mist in the demolition area.
Located on the east side of the site, the Metals Plant operated from 1956 until the mid-1980s. Besides producing uranium metal, the facility converted depleted uranium hexafluoride (UF6) into uranium tetrafluoride (UF4), known as green salt. Green salt was used in other manufacturing processes.
Accelerated cleanup under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act previously allowed for removal of more than 100,000 cubic feet of systems waste, enough to fill roughly 200 dump trucks. The Metals Plant was declared demolition-ready in early August 2011, avoiding $2.5 million in inflationary costs by being cleaned up five years ahead of schedule.