Only a few buildings remain scattered across the Hanford 300 Area just north of Richland as work has come to an end to tear down buildings there, at least for a few years.
For more than a decade, the public has seen the progress to tear down about 180 obsolete buildings there as they passed by on Route 4 South. Workers posted many of the signs from the demolished buildings on the fence along the road.
As of this week, all that remains above ground is the problematic 324 Building and several structures that are being left for continued use. They include four buildings used by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers, a fire station and a records storage building.
The 324 Building is not expected to be torn down for several years as work continues to address a leak of high-level radioactive waste from one of its hot cells into the ground beneath it.
The final structure to come down for now is the Hanford Site Badge House, where demolition was completed this week.
It was one of the newer buildings in the 300 Area, where work started during World War II to fabricate uranium into fuel for Hanford's plutonium production reactors and to conduct research.
The long, low badge house was built in 1982 of reinforced concrete. Its front stretched 138 feet long.
It initially provided office space, including for security workers and personnel relations, and its basement was used as an evacuation control center for about 300 Area workers. It first was called the Security Office Building and later the Security Operating Support Facility, according to the Department of Energy.
In 1991, it became the badge house as security measures at Hanford were eased after weapons plutonium production ended. Security badges were issued to some visitors to the site there and the basement was remodeled for safeguards and security staff offices.
DOE contractor Washington Closure Hanford demolished the building by punching holes in the main floor and dropping the debris into its basement, according to DOE. Above-ground demolition was completed this week.
The below-ground demolition and load-out of the debris is expected to be finished this spring.
However, the 300 Area will remain an active environmental cleanup site for more than a year. The remaining underground structure of the Plutonium Recycle Test Reactor is still being removed and piping and waste sites still must be cleaned up.
DOE plans to complete most environmental cleanup in the 300 Area by fall 2015, with the exception of the 324 Building.
w Annette Cary: 582-1533; email@example.com; Twitter: @HanfordNews