White Shield of Pasco and Apollo of Kennewick teamed up to win a $3.7 million Hanford subcontract from Washington Closure Hanford.
Washington Closure is preparing to dig up one of Hanford's most hazardous burial grounds, the 618-10 Burial Ground.
White Shield and Apollo will install the infrastructure needed for the project including water, electricity, roads, additional office trailers and waste container transfer stations.
"The services being provided will allow our contractors to work safely and efficiently as they deal with waste generated from years of reactor fuels development and research performed in the 300 Area of the Hanford site," said Mark French, the Department of Energy project director for Hanford cleanup along the Columbia River, in a statement.
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Most waste sites at Hanford are closer to buildings or reactors, so cleanup does not require the installation of infrastructure, said Washington Closure spokesman Todd Nelson.
But the 618-10 Burial Ground includes radioactive laboratory waste from research at Hanford just north of Richland near the Columbia River that was trucked from the labs to a more remote site at Hanford before it was buried.
It's six miles north of Richland a few hundred yards west of Hanford's main highway.
"Due to the complexity of the waste site and its contents, the planned cleanup will take several years," John Darby, Washington Closure project manager, said in a statement. "To safely clean up the site, utilities and other services, such as water lines for fire control and dust suppression, are required."
The burial ground is believed to hold debris contaminated with low-activity and high-activity radioactive waste. Records indicate that it likely holds laboratory equipment and hoods, electrical equipment, metallurgical samples, filters, aluminum cuttings, bottles, boxes and shielded drums filled with waste.
The waste was buried from March 1954 through September 1963 on the six-acre site. Some went into trenches. But waste also was buried in 94 vertical pipe units made from 55-gallon drums welded end-to-end into pipes and buried vertically in the soil so waste could be dropped down them.
Work is being done now to get a better idea of what's buried at 618-10 before a plan for cleaning it up is approved. This winter cylinders were pushed into the ground around the vertical pipe units to lower equipment to take radiation readings that should provide clues about what might be in the pipes. The data is being compiled now.
Washington Closure is preparing next to dig small trenches across the burial trenches to sample what is buried there.
The money to install the infrastructure at the 618-10 Burial Ground comes from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
Washington Closure reserved the subcontract award for a company meeting certain Small Business Administration qualifications, such as being a small company owned by a minority, woman or disabled veteran.
White Shield describes itself as Indian-owned with corporate offices in Pasco. Among its environmental projects have been tanker spill remediation in Mesa, work at the Hanford Reach National Monument and a lead-based paint risk assessment at Fort Lewis Army housing.
Apollo is a Native American-owned general contracting company based in Kennewick. Its recent projects have included the just completed Frenchtown vicinity to Walla Walla upgrade to Highway 12 and ongoing interchange construction on Valley Mall Boulevard at Union Gap.
White Shield and Apollo expect to begin infrastructure work at the 618-10 Burial Ground this fall and complete work in February.
Washington Closure has spent nearly $80 million in federal economic stimulus money, with $51 million, or about 64 percent, spent at Mid-Columbia businesses.
* Annette Cary: 509-582-1533; firstname.lastname@example.org; more Hanford news at hanford news.com.