Twenty Years of Preparations to Culminate in Plutonium Finishing Plant Demolition

Demolition of the Hanford Site’s Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP) is scheduled to begin within weeks, capping years of challenging preparatory work.

EM’s Richland Operations Office and contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company (CH2M) will conduct demolition slowly and methodically, with numerous controls and extensive monitoring in place to ensure employee and environmental safety.

“Today, we’re near the end of a 20-year remediation project to prepare the facility for safe demolition,” EM Federal Project Director Tom Teynor said. “The start of its demolition will represent a huge step forward for the Department, plant workers, the community, and stakeholders, as well as the agencies we’ve worked with to get to this point.”

Crews recently opened portions of the Plutonium Reclamation Facility (PRF) roof for a crane to remove eight glove boxes from the upper three floors (see a time lapse video here). Crews had already cleaned, decontaminated and prepared the glove boxes for removal. Heavy equipment will demolish PRF after those hazards are removed.

“We will move forward through demolition with our continued focus on safety and each other, our continued cooperation, our teamwork and our skillful approach to every task,” said Tom Bratvold, CH2M’s vice president of the PFP Closure Project. “If we aren’t sure we can do it safely, we won’t do it.”

PRF is the first of four main PFP facilities to be demolished. Next is the Americium Recovery Facility, nicknamed the “McCluskey Room” after a 1976 explosion that severely injured Harold McCluskey, who was working inside. Using personal protective equipment, CH2M employees have already prepared that building for demolition.

Demolition of the main processing and ventilation facilities is expected to begin in early 2017. Crews have prepared the main building, which is the largest of the four, by removing (or prepared to remove during demolition) about 75 percent of contaminated process vacuum piping and 65 percent of the contaminated ventilation duct. Workers are removing asbestos, contaminated piping and filter boxes from the ventilation building.

All demolition is scheduled for completion in summer 2017.