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Cleanup Options For Hanford’s 300 Area Going Public

July 29, 2013 | Northwest News Network
CONTRIBUTED BY:
Anna King


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  • A recent photo of the 300 Area at Hanford Nuclear Reservation after removal of contaminated buildings, waste sites, backfill and revegetation of the northern portion (tan area). credit: Hanford.gov
A recent photo of the 300 Area at Hanford Nuclear Reservation after removal of contaminated buildings, waste sites, backfill and revegetation of the northern portion (tan area). | credit: Hanford.gov | rollover image for more

Federal officials are trying to figure out what to do about radioactive materials that remain at a place near the Columbia River known as the 300 Area. It’s the subject of a series of public meetings that kick off this week.

The 300 Area was where workers milled uranium rods and tested ways to process plutonium during WWII and the Cold War. They poured about 2 million gallons of radioactive liquid waste a day into sandy ponds and trenches right next to the Columbia River. Cleaning up buildings and material there has kept crews busy for 20 years.

One of the remaining jobs is to work on a 125-acre groundwater plume contaminated with uranium.

Michael Thompson, a hydrologist with the Department of Energy, said the plan now is to “sequester that uranium in place.”

“In other words, chemically bind it up. We’re going to add phosphates to it. And the uranium then does not dissolve back into the groundwater and the groundwater will clean itself up within a reasonable amount of time,” he said.

Another part of the 300 Area Hanford plan would dig up trenches full of radioactive garbage, and pipes and soil where radioactive liquid has leaked into the ground.

(This was first reported for Northwest News Network.)

© 2013 Northwest News Network
Hanford Nuclear Reservation nuclear waste
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