Hanford workers finish removing contaminated "glove boxes" from - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Hanford workers finish removing contaminated "glove boxes" from Plutonium Finishing Plant

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RICHLAND, WA. - The Department of Energy says workers have finished cutting up and removing the two most highly contaminated pieces of processing equipment, called glove boxes, from the Plutonium Finishing Plant at the Hanford Site.

The DOE says workers started removing the glove boxes in June 2015.

They finished removing the first box in August, and finished removing the second this month.

The two large glove boxes were about two stories tall and were heavily contaminated with radiological hazards.

"Removing the glove boxes brings the Department of Energy and our contractor a significant step closer to being ready to start demolishing the plant," Tom Teynor, project director for the Department of Energy's Richland Operations Office, said.

He says this is some of the most hazardous work ever done on the site.

These were the most contaminated of the nearly 240 pieces of plutonium processing equipment at the plant that have been removed, or have been prepared to remove, during demolition preparation.

The two recently removed glove boxes were too large and too contaminated to remove from the building in one piece. Workers cut apart the glove boxes into pieces that have since been packaged for eventual permanent disposal. Thirteen smaller glove boxes are packaged and staged for removal from the main facility immediately before and during demolition, which is expected to start later this year.

Check out this time lapse video from the DOE.