Hanford 300-Area Buildings may not be Destroyed - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Hanford 300-Area Buildings may not be Destroyed

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RICHLAND, Wash.- The Department of Energy is reconsidering plans to tear down the entire 300-Area at Hanford.

DOE is looking at keeping some of the vital research buildings used by Pacific Northwest National Laboratory at the 300-Area after contractors told them replacement costs would be much more than expected.

With demolition already being done on the 300-Area, DOE is reviewing plans to totally flatten the area.

"One of the options is for the Lab to leave the 300-Area completely which can be done safely without impacting the cleanup schedule out there," said Megan Barnett, a DOE Spokesperson. 

About 1,000 PNNL employees work in the buildings that were scheduled for demolition, jobs that could leave the area if the buildings are demolished.

"1,000 jobs out of a 4,000 employer agency is a huge impact, and then what do you do for an encore. That's a huge level of revenue, a lot of people and critical skills that helps other things happen at this site and this community as well," said Benton County Commissioner Claude Oliver. 

Environmentalists and the Washington Department of Ecology are up in arms over leaving buildings in tact. They said some of them are contaminated with more than just uranium.

"The buildings are known to have contamination including beryllium and it is unsafe to send workers in there," said Gerry Pollet, Executive Director of Heart of America Northwest, a Hanford watchdog group. 

The Department of Energy hasn't made a final decision yet, but said they are committed to both missions.

No matter what happens the Department of Energy said contaminated groundwater under the site will be cleaned up.

A final decision for the 300-Area should come sometime soon.