Work is under way to tear down some of the buildings that once supported work at Hanford's Fast Flux Test Facility.
No decision has been made about the fate of the research reactor, but work is under way to tear down 14 buildings outside the secure area immediately surrounding the reactor. They include warehouses, a large office complex and security buildings that date from the mid-1970s.
In addition, an older office building that looks similar to the 1940s structures on the site will be demolished. It may have been moved to its present location to be used as an early administration building.
The Tri-City Development Council remains interested in two of the large buildings once planned to support FFTF, but which remained largely unused, the 28,000-square-foot Maintenance and Storage Facility and the 250,000-square-foot Fuels and Materials Examination Facility.
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"We think they have potential for other future uses," said Gary Petersen, vice president of Hanford projects for TRIDEC. However, TRIDEC has no interest in the buildings now being torn down, he said.
After the 14 buildings are demolished, about 50 structures will remain near FFTF. Some still are in use, including a fire station and maintenance buildings now used for other Hanford work.
Although most of the unused buildings are fairly modern by Hanford standards -- some buildings on the nuclear reservation date to World War II -- they still require upkeep. Tearing them down is meant to reduce overhead costs.
Washington Closure Hanford is spending $1.5 million to demolish the 14 buildings and remove the slabs they are built on. Some of the structural steel in the building is being salvaged and sold to a commercial vendor.
Only one building has had radiological contamination and it was small, said Mike Flannery, a Washington Closure deputy project manager for decontamination and demolition.
Work on each building starts with disconnecting utilities, without disturbing the nearby buildings that continue to need water and power. Although buildings are newer than many at Hanford, discrepancies still are being found with utilities described on building plans.
Any material that is not accepted at Hanford's large landfill, the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility, such as mercury in thermostats, is removed. Then heavy equipment is used to demolish the buildings.
The older office building will require some extra work because of asbestos.
A decision about FFTF will be made after the Tank Closure and Waste Management Environmental Impact Statement is completed. However, the draft environmental study released almost two years ago recommends entombing the research reactor.
The 400-megawatt reactor that supporters said is DOE's largest and most modern has been shutdown.
The reactor had been maintained on standby to allow it to be efficiently restarted until Democratic and Republican administrations concluded that it had no financially viable use. Options ranging from production of isotopes for medicine to production of tritium for weapons have been considered during the past decade.
The Maintenance and Storage Facility has been used to prepare for work with the radioactive sludge in Hanford's K Basins.