618-10 waste removal project in finishing stages - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

618-10 waste removal project in finishing stages

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RICHLAND, WA - One of the Hanford site's toughest cleanup projects can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The 618-10 project was started in 2011 to remove waste from the 300 area that was buried on the site. Reporter Rex Carlin toured the site and learned more about the finishing stages of the project.

CH2M officials told him that removal of waste from the site should be completed by the end of the summer, with full remediation of the area on target for September 2018...assuming there aren't any setbacks in the schedule.

The 618-10 project is aimed at removing 94 vertical piping units filled with waste, and more than 2,000 drums - 2,201 to be exact - which contained lower level waste.

Tammy Hobbes, the vice president for the project, says there will be a great sense of accomplishment in undertaking such a large, complicated task and making the area cleaner.

"It's reducing the risk to the environment that we all live in," said Hobbes.

Hobbes says the completion of the project is vital to protecting the environment not only in the direct area of the burial ground, but the nearby Columbia River as well.

"The primary risk is contamination, migration to the groundwater and to the river," Hobbes explained.

All 2,201 drums have been removed from the trenches and disposed of, and the waste has been removed from 80 of the VPUs. The waste is still in the other 14 VPUs, which were made of heavy steel...making the removal process take much longer. But they're moving one step at a time across each VPU, so all 14 of them should be completed around the same time.

The last steps will be a site-wide excavation to remove any residual waste from the area left over by any of the drums and VPUs. 

Then, they plan on undergoing one year of environmental sampling before completely revegetating the area in an effort to basically make it look exactly like the surrounding land.