Veolia helps achieve DOE milestone

Veolia Nuclear Solutions – Federal Services (VNSFS) has helped the U.S Department of Energy complete cleanup of the plant where two-thirds of the nation’s Cold War-era plutonium was produced.

The demolition and removal of the Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP) at Hanford is what DOE calls an “historic accomplishment” in the decades-long cleanup of the once-secret area constructed during World War II.

“Removal of this iconic building forever changes the landscape at the Hanford Site and highlights an historic accomplishment in DOE’s overall cleanup mission,” said Tom Teynor, project director for the PFP demolition for DOE in Richland. “Everyone who contributed to this achievement should be very proud of their efforts.”

VNSFS operates the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility at Hanford, as a subcontractor to CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company (CHPRC). More than 900 containers of waste from the PFP were disposed at ERDF from December 2018 through February 2020. 

The 234-5Z finishing plant, nicknamed the Z-Plant because it was the last stop in the plutonium production process at Hanford, operated from 1949 to 1989, and was a complex of more than 90 buildings. The plant produced hockey-puck size buttons of plutonium for shipment to nuclear weapons-manufacturing facilities. The production left glove boxes and other equipment highly contaminated. About 200 pieces of equipment were disposed at ERDF, including glove boxes, 1.5 miles of ventilation piping, contaminated process lines, asbestos and other hazards.

This is one of the most challenging risk-reduction efforts in the DOE complex
Jason Casper
Vice president of the PFP demolition for the site’s prime contractor, CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company
This is a great example of teamwork in a high hazard environment, with the customer, prime contractor and subcontractor all being on the same page to achieve this milestone. I’m very proud of our team
Billy Morrison
President and CEO of VNSFS

The remaining work to be done at the finishing plant, expected to be completed by summer 2020, involves packaging and disposing of remaining rubble, taking core samples beneath building pads and stabilizing the soil cover, DOE said. Once the PFP campaign is finished, ERDF will begin disposal of the remaining Plutonium Recovery Facility using its Enhanced Controls Place and Cover Disposal method. 

The Hanford Site sits on 586 square miles of desert in south-central Washington. It was established in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project.