Hanford workers begin moving radioactive waste away from Columbia River
Registration for the popular environmental cleanup tours of Hanford in 2019 opens at 9 a.m. on the dot March 19.
Procrastinators beware — all bus seats for the year are often claimed within a couple of hours. The public usually is not allowed on the secure site.
Registration is available only on line at hanford.gov.
This year 20 bus tours will be offered by the Department of Energy, lasting about four hours each. Participants must be U.S. citizens and at least 18.
Separate tours will be offered for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which includes B Reactor and sites showing life before families were removed to make way for the nuclear reservation during World War II.
Sign up for 2019 national park tours has not started. Unlike the DOE cleanup tours, the park service tours do not have citizenship or age restrictions.
The environmental cleanup tours offered by the Department of Energy give the public a look at work being done to clean up contamination left by production of plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program from World War II to the Cold War.
It is a chance for people in the Tri-Cities to get a look at what’s going on in their backyard. It’s also popular with retired workers who want to see cleanup progress or show family members where they worked.
Hanford cleanup tour stops
This year the tour will include briefings on these projects:
▪ Hanford’s Cold Test Facility, an above-ground mockup of one of Hanford’s 177 underground tanks used to store radioactive and hazardous chemical waste. The facility is used to test different methods of emptying the enclosed, underground tanks.
▪ The 200 West Pump and Treat facility, which removes several kinds of radioactive, chemical and organic pollution from groundwater in central Hanford that moves toward the Columbia River.
▪ The sludge removal project, at which work is being done to move highly radioactive waste stored in underwater containers at the K West Reactor Basin to safer storage away from the Columbia River in the center of the 580-square-mile site in Eastern Washington state.
▪ The Waste Treatment Plant, also called the vitrification plant. The $17 billion plant is being built to turn much of Hanford’s tank waste into a stable glass form for disposal.
▪ The PUREX waste storage tunnels, where workers are filling the second tunnel with concrete-like grout to prevent a collapse. The work is being done after the first PUREX tunnel, storing rail cars loaded with radioactive waste, partially collapsed.
Tours will be offered at 8 a.m. on April 17, 23 and 25; May 1, 7, 9 and 16; June 19, 25 and 27; July 17, 23, 25 and 31; and Aug. 6, 8, 14, 20, 22 and 28.
They leave at 8 a.m. from the Mission Support Alliance office at 2490 Garlick Blvd., Richland.
Participants must carry government-issued photo identification on the tour with a name exactly matching the name on the registration.
A limited number of “walk on” seats may be available. Call 509-376-5840 for more information.