Radioactive sludge being removed from near Columbia River - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Radioactive sludge being removed from near Columbia River

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RICHLAND, WA - The U.S. Department of Energy along with its contractors have begun removing radioactive sludge stored near the Columbia River. 

Believe it or not, the radioactive sludge will be moved only about ten miles to another building, a process that took nine years to develop.

Today, the first of many trips from the 105-K West Basin to the T Plant took place. The T Plant is a few miles away from the West Basin and will serve as a long-term storage location for all the radioactive material. The West Basin is where all the sludge is currently stored in a water-filled pool... only about 400 yards from the Columbia River.

"Removing the sludge away from the Columbia River is extremely important from an environmental standpoint," said Mark French, Federal Project Director. "We've completed cleanup along most of the Columbia River. So, the 100-K area is one of the last areas remaining that need to be cleaned up. Getting the sludge out will allow us to remove the basin and then remove the remediation in this area."

The sludge being removed from the West Basin is a product of fuel rods stored in the basin that began to deteriorate. That with a mixture of metal fragments and dirt accumulated over time.

Contractors were telling me that the sludge removing process is estimated to last about a year, which would eventually lead to the demolition of the West Basin.