DOE Marks 20 Years of Cleanup Success at the ERDF at Hanford - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

DOE Marks 20 Years of Cleanup Success at the ERDF at Hanford

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RICHLAND, WA – This month marks 20 successful years of environmental cleanup at one of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s largest disposal facilities--the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility (ERDF) on the Hanford Site in southeastern Washington state.

Since disposal operations began in 1996, 18 million tons of contaminated soil, debris and solid wastes from cleanup activities at the Hanford site have been placed in the disposal facility, which is specially engineered with a liner and leachate collection system. ERDF covers 107 acres, roughly the same area as 52 football fields. Its operations have supported the demolition of more than 800 facilities and remediation of 1,300 waste sites at the Hanford site over the past 20 years. 

“ERDF has been and will continue to be a critical component of Hanford’s cleanup,” said Doug Shoop, deputy manager of DOE’s Richland Operations Office. “It’s a key part of DOE’s overall cleanup strategy at the site in order to remove contaminated material and provide for its safe disposal as to prevent contaminants from reaching groundwater or the Columbia River.” 

In addition to contaminated soil, debris, and solid waste, ERDF receives other hazardous materials such as mercury, asbestos, beryllium, chromium and lead that can be treated onsite before disposal. The majority of the waste material disposed at ERDF was generated in Hanford’s River Corridor, a 220-square-mile stretch of land that borders the Columbia River. The River Corridor was home to Hanford’s nine plutonium production reactors, fuel development facilities and hundreds of support structures. Waste from other Hanford projects is also disposed at ERDF. 

ERDF is currently managed by Washington Closure Hanford (WCH). 

“The ongoing success of ERDF operations can be attributed to the efforts of a workforce committed to working efficiently and working safely,” said Washington Closure President Scott Sax. “Their safety performance is truly outstanding.” For example, ERDF truck drivers have logged nearly 30 million safe miles (approximately 1,200 times around the earth) since the facility began operations.

A permanent cap will eventually be placed over the facility when the Hanford cleanup is completed, or ERDF is no longer needed.