Hanford

Get one of the hottest tickets in town — a seat on a Hanford tour

Public tours of the Hanford nuclear reservation will include a briefing on the vitrification plant under construction. Shown is one of its many buildings, the Effluent Management Facility.
Public tours of the Hanford nuclear reservation will include a briefing on the vitrification plant under construction. Shown is one of its many buildings, the Effluent Management Facility. Courtesy Bechtel National

Get ready to register.

Sign up starts at 9 a.m. sharp April 10 for all the public tours that will be offered this year to see the environmental cleanup work at the Hanford nuclear reservation.

Last year all seats were claimed within two hours.

The same number of tours, 20, will be offered this year.

They will be on selected weekdays May 8 to Aug. 23. Tours are scheduled for days when visitors are most likely to see work being done.

The tours are not the only chance for visitors to get within the security gates of the nuclear reservation.

Now that parts of the Hanford site are included in the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, visitors can also take separate tours of historic B Reactor or the areas where settlers were evicted in 1943 to make way for World War II plutonium production.

Registration for those historical tours, offered from spring through fall, has yet to be announced.

Hanford tour (3)
Participants in a Hanford tour get a look at work at the massive central Hanford landfill for low level radioactive and hazardous chemical waste. File Tri-City Herald

The cleanup tours give participants a look at some of the work being done with the nuclear reservation’s annual budget of about $2.4 billion.

Hanford, a 580-square-mile site in Eastern Washington, produced plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program from WWII through the Cold War.

Now work is underway to clean up the radioactive and hazardous chemical contamination and waste left from production to meet modern environmental standards.

Tour participants will get briefings on key projects, including construction of the $17 billion vitrification plant being built to treat up to 56 million gallons of waste in underground tanks.

Tours typically stop at the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility, a lined landfill where 18 million tons of low-level radioactive and hazardous chemical waste has been disposed of to date.

For the first time, participants are expected to go into the K West Reactor to learn about a project to move highly radioactive sludge out of underwater storage in the reactor’s basin starting this spring.

Participants in the environmental cleanup tour must by U.S. citizens and at least 18.

Buses will leave at 8 a.m. on tour days from the Mission Support Alliance building at 2490 Garlick Blvd., Richland. The tours, which are free, last about four and a half hours.

Participants must dress for an industrial environment in long pants, close-toed shoes and shirts with sleeves at last four-inches long.

To register up to two people at a time, go to www.hanford.gov.

Be prepared to provide full names exactly as they appear on a driver’s license or other photo identification that must be carried on the tour. Registration is available only online.

If you are too late to get one of the 20 seats on each bus, or don’t get the tour date you want, you can sign up for notifications of openings if cancellations are received.

Tour dates this year are May 8, 10, 30 and 31; June 5, 7, 13, 19, 21 and 27; July 10, 12, 18, 24 and 26; and Aug. 7, 9, 15, 21 and 23.

Annette Cary: 509-582-1533, @HanfordNews

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