RICHLAND, Wash. – Hanford Site workers are making headway to remove radioactive soil from beneath the 324 Building, just a few miles north of Richland and near the Columbia River.
They’re removing wiring, cables, and other large abandoned equipment from the building’s airlock, which allows access from clean areas to adjacent, contaminated rooms. During the Cold War, workers at this research and development facility remotely handled radioactive and hazardous substances in the rooms.
“Each step we take toward remediating the soil under the building brings us closer to completing the project and marking successful cleanup along the River Corridor,” said Bryan Foley, EM Richland Operations Office director for the project.
Earlier this year, workers met a key performance goal to remove combustible material and contaminated loose debris from the airlock floor. With those items gone, work has shifted to removing the larger items.
“The crew has made outstanding progress,” said Mike Douglas, acting 324 Building Disposition Project vice president for contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company, which is preparing to remove the contaminated soil. “They are working well as a team, and, most importantly, doing the work safely.”
The contaminated items must be taken out of the airlock to allow installation of remote-operated equipment for removing soil under a nearby hot cell. The radioactive soil must be removed before the building can be demolished.
Nearby at the project’s testing and training facility, employees are preparing to install remotely operated equipment, including a mechanism for moving bins of waste from a simulated contaminated area into the airlock. Drilling into the mockup structure’s walls will support equipment installation. Installation of equipment at the mockup is planned to begin in December.
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