Work is continuing to clean-up and decommission the US Department of Energy's (DOE) Hanford site in Washington state. Two highly contaminated glove boxes have been removed from the former Plutonium Finishing Plant at the site in preparation for the plant's demolition later this year. Hanford was used for military plutonium production activities from 1943 until 1987. The site is now managed by the DOE's Richland Operations Office, which is responsible for the cleanup of all remaining waste streams. CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Company is the prime contractor for the environmental cleanup of Hanford's central plateau, including the Plutonium Finishing Plant.
The glove boxes were the most contaminated of the nearly 240 pieces of plutonium processing equipment at the plant that have been removed, or have been prepared to be removed, during demolition preparation. Demolition is expected to start later this year. Work began to remove them in June 2015, but they were were too large and too heavily contaminated to be removed from the building in one piece. The boxes were therefore cut into smaller pieces that have since been packaged for eventual permanent disposal. Workers cutting the glove boxes into pieces worked from the top down, and wore protective suits and breathed supplied air during the cutting operations. "Removing the glove boxes brings the Department of Energy and our contractor a significant step closer to being ready to start demolishing the plant," said. Tom Teynor, project director for the Richland Operations Office.