Lifting a lid at Hanford

18 January 2011

The removal of a reactor dome at Hanford is the latest decommissioning milestone for the site. 


Completed in 1960, the 309 Building housed the Plutonium Recycle Test Reactor used for development of commercial nuclear fuels. As part of the USA's national nuclear research program, tests in nine years of operation included the deliberate rupture of uranium, plutonium and mixed-oxide fuel assemblies.


Building 309 dome lift, January 2011
The dome had enjoyed several colours over the years, including white and silver, but ended its life with dark grey


Lifting the 67 tonne steel-plate dome required a 500 tonne crane. On 15 January the operation was carried out for the US Department of Energy by Washington Closure Hanford, a project company owned by URS, Bechtel and CH2M Hill. In 2010 the company said it "decontaminated, demolished and loaded out debris from 142 buildings" while also "remediating 149 waste sites and burial grounds" - all at Hanford.


"As we demolish buildings at Hanford, we often talk about how we're changing the skyline," said cleanup manager for the 300 Area Dan Elkins, "With the removal of the 309 Building dome, there won't be much of a skyline left in the 300 Area."


The dome is to be cut into smaller pieces and transported to a disposal facility at Hanford. It will be joined over the next year by the building walls and remnants of the reactor itself, which are in the lower levels of the building. Overall the demolition and disposal of the 309 Building will cost about $11 million and be complete in 2013.
Researched and written
by World Nuclear News