Demolition of the Plutonium Finishing Plant at Hanford has begun - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Demolition of the Plutonium Finishing Plant at Hanford has begun

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RICHLAND, WA - The Plutonium Finishing Plant at Hanford is being demolished after 25 years, stating with the Plutonium Reclamation Facility.

For those wondering why they waited 25 years to tear it down, Deputy Project Director Kelly Wooley says they've been working on it for years just to get to this point.

"The process for doing the Plutonium Finishing Plant demolition started several decades ago as far as starting to remove the material and ship it off site," Wooley told reporter Rex Carlin. "That was a good portion of the first decade or a little bit more."

And that part is complicated in itself, since everything used back in the plutonium production days was still inside the buildings.

"Go inside, do the decontamination inside, remove the highly contaminated systems, glove boxes and articles so that we can then get to the demolition phase and do it in a safe manner," Wooley said.

But just because the glove boxes are gone doesn't mean the danger is gone. Radiological material - asbestos and chemicals - are still potential dangers for the people working on the project.

And another major challenge this group faces will never go away: the wind.

"One of the criteria is to keep it at less than fifteen miles per hour, that's one of the restrictions we put into the work plan," said Wooley. "We monitor that very closely, and that does affect the ability to get the water where we want it."

He's referring to the water continuously being sprayed onto the building to keep the materials wet. By putting water on the areas getting torn down, potentially dangerous dust particles can't circulate in the air.

If all goes as planned, Wooley says they expect to be finished by next June, but he says in a project like this one, you always have to expect the unexpected.