Demolition of former Plutonium Finishing Plant processing buildi - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Demolition of former Plutonium Finishing Plant processing building now underway

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RICHLAND, WA Demolition is now underway on the facility that once produced two-thirds of the nation’s Cold War-era plutonium. The Plutonium Finishing Plant’s (PFP) main processing facility complex, nicknamed “Z-Plant,” because it was the last stop of plutonium production at Hanford, operated for 40 years at the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Hanford Site.

“Starting the work on the main processing facility complex marks the final step in demolition, and everyone who has contributed to reaching this point should be very proud of what they’ve contributed,” said Tom Teynor, project director for PFP demolition at DOE’s Richland Operations Office.

The main processing facility operated from 1949 to 1989. It contained two processing lines where workers working through gloveboxes would create hockey puck-sized plutonium “buttons” for shipment to weapons-manufacturing facilities. Plutonium production left gloveboxes and other pieces of plutonium processing equipment highly contaminated. Workers spent two decades preparing for demolition, including decontaminating and removing about 200 pieces of plutonium processing equipment like glove boxes, 1.5 miles of ventilation piping, contaminated process lines, asbestos and other hazards. In some instances, such as cutting and removing two highly contaminated glove boxes, workers performed some of the most hazardous work anywhere across the DOE complex.

DOE contractor CH2M is responsible for the safe and compliant demolition of PFP. The main processing facility is the last of the four main PFP facilities to be demolished. Numerous controls are in place to ensure employee and environmental safety during PFP demolition.

“As we’ve done since we started demolition, we remain focused on safety,” said Kelly Wooley, CH2M deputy vice president of the PFP closure project. “A lot of people are accomplishing an amazing amount of work, causing the landscape to change every day. It’s an exciting time to be at PFP.”

Demolition will proceed from the outside toward the inside of the main processing facility, while another demolition team continues work on the Plutonium Reclamation Facility.

Watch a video of the demolition.

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