Hanford

Hanford's problem child burial ground is close to natural conclusion

Cleanup of the 618-10 Burial Ground on the Hanford nuclear reservation is nearing completion, with final approval expected this month and natural landscaping planned in the early fall.
Cleanup of the 618-10 Burial Ground on the Hanford nuclear reservation is nearing completion, with final approval expected this month and natural landscaping planned in the early fall.

After years of risky cleanup at the 618-10 Burial Ground, a high-hazard waste site in the Hanford 300 area, only a few steps stand in the way of completion.

So, what’s left for the complex site?

DOE and EPA granted official approval to verify cleanup and reclassify the site — which changes the status of the area — in June, according to the Department of Energy.

This document will serve as final sign-off that all criteria and procedures at the burial ground and near waste sites has been approved, said DOE Spokesperson Mark Heeter in an email to the Herald.

After finalization, the Tri-Party Agreement, or TPA, for the 300 area action will be completed. The agreement is a cleanup plan with remedial provisions, which was signed in 1989.

The 618-10 Burial Ground served as a dumping ground for radioactive waste from 1954-63. Throughout cleanup, workers removed more than 2,000 55-gallon drums of radioactive waste buried at site.

After cleanup, the site will return to a natural area. Native plants will begin being added in September, part of a plan that should return the area to a closer version of its original contour, according to the Department of Energy.

“Cleaning up the 618-10 Burial Ground was a massive undertaking,” said U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash, at a press conference in November. “The Energy Department’s Richland Office has done an incredible job of decontaminating, demolishing, removing waste and remediating the river corridor.”

A lot has happened in the past year across the 7.5-acre burial site.

Waste removal officially concluded in November with infrastructure coming down until March.

Refill of the massive trenches on the site was completed in March with trucks exiting the area, so the project moved forward to normalizing the landscape.

The site reached the TPA milestone before the projected date of Sept. 30.



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