Richland business gets $15M Hanford cleanup contract

By Annette Cary, Tri-City HeraldDecember 19, 2012 

Washington Closure Hanford has awarded one of the last major subcontracts for environmental cleanup of the 300 Area just north of Richland to a small Richland business, Sage Tec.

Sage Tec will receive $15 million to clean up contaminated structures, soil and pipelines.

The Department of Energy plans to have most environmental cleanup near the Columbia River at Hanford, which includes the 300 Area, completed in 2015. The 300 Area was used for radiological research and to fabricate uranium fuel for Hanford reactors that produced plutonium for the nation's nuclear weapons program.

With the award of the Sage Tec subcontract, the only expected major subcontract award remaining in the 300 Area will be for cleanup of the radioactive cesium and strontium spill beneath the 324 Building, said Tom Kisenwether, Washington Closure subcontracts manager for the 300 Area.

"We've made tremendous progress cleaning up highly contaminated buildings and waste sites in the 300 Area," Carol Johnson, Washington Closure president, said in a statement.

Sage Tec will remove the contaminated structures below ground associated with the Plutonium Recycle Test Reactor after the reactor is removed in spring 2013.

The reactor, which sat under the iconic dome just north of Richland that was removed in early 2011, supported development of alternative fuels for the commercial nuclear power industry.

It also will remove three empty tanks that once held radioactive liquids near the reactor and remove pipelines associated with the reactor and contaminated soil near it.

Sage Tec also will remove three liquid waste piping systems in the 300 Area.

That includes a line used for radioactive liquids and a newer line that replaced it.

The third system was for laboratory process waste lines that could have low levels of radioactive contamination.

Sage Tec also will dig up contaminated soil, including in areas that have become accessible as many of the buildings in the 300 Area have been torn down.

The waste sites include spills of radioactive material, soil contaminated from an underground diesel tank and low-level radioactive waste burial sites.

Sage Tec is expected to remove an estimated 360,000 tons of waste material starting next month, with work expected to be completed in March 2014.

Waste will be taken to the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility, a lined landfill for low-level radioactive waste in central Hanford.

Since Washington Closure began work in the 300 Area, it has torn down 126 buildings or other facilities, cleaned up 57 soil waste sites and hauled off more than 1 million tons of waste material.

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