RICHLAND, Wash.- For decades, nuclear fuel was stored in the K-Basins, sometimes seeping into the soil and threatening the Columbia River.
Cleanup work is one step closer to complete after Fluor Hanford begins pumping dirt and garbage called sludge out of the K-East Basin.
It is the first step in a four step process to clean out the K-East Reactor Basin.
A remote control arm is being used to suck sludge out of the basin, then through a half mile long pipe.
The sludge is put into the K-West Basin where it will be stored before it is treated to oxidize radioactive Uranium.
The basins sit only 400 yards from the Columbia River, and cleanup means one less thing to worry about getting into the river.
The cleanup will help protect the Columbia River from contamination, said Fluor Hanford Spokesperson Geoff Tyree.
After they are done pumping out sludge, the basin will be vacuumed, then a layer of contaminated concrete lining will be removed before they start removing contaminated soil from under the basin.
The Tri-Party Agreement said they must get sludge out by May of 2007, a deadline the Department of Energy says they expect to meet.