Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


The Hanford Site comprises 586 square miles (about 358,388 acres) of semiarid desert in Southeastern Washington State. Located due north of Richland, Washington, it is bordered on the east by the Columbia River, and on the south by the Yakima River, which joins the Columbia River near Richland. It is the site of the country's largest environmental cleanup project. The DOE owns and operates the site. With the end of the plutonium production mission in the late 1980s, the DOE has focused on the cleanup of the cold war legacy, characterizing, treating, and disposing of nuclear materials and contamination. It has two federal offices at Hanford, the Richland Operations Office (RL) and the Office of River Protection (ORP), each of which oversees separate contracts held by private companies, to conduct cleanup activities. Some of the Hanford Site is leased to the State of Washington, which in turn leases it to the US Ecology for commercial low-level waste burial and Energy Northwest to oversee the Columbia Generating Station, a commercial nuclear power reactor.

As of 2008, 53 million gallons of chemical and radioactive waste from over three decades of plutonium production are stored in 170 underground tanks. The site is also home to 2,300 tons (2,100 metric tons) of spent nuclear fuel, which is 80% of the irradiated uranium fuel in the DOE inventory; 12 tons (11 metric tons) of plutonium at the Plutonium Finishing Plant in the K Reactor Basins and the Fast Flux Test Facility; about 25 million cubic feet (750,000 cubic meters) of buried or stored solid waste in 175 waste trenches; and about 270 billion gallons (1 trillion liters) of contaminated groundwater spread out over about 80 square miles (208 square kilometers); and 1,936 stainless-steel capsules of radioactive cesium and strontium, with about 125 million curies of material in water-filled pools. About 40% of the nation's approximately one billion curies of human-made radioactivity reside at Hanford. Hanford has over 1,700 waste sites, and about 500 contaminated facilities. As of February 6, 1996, the fissile material at the site included 11.0 metric tons of plutonium and 1,522 kg of plutonium waste and 3,842 metric tons of enriched uranium.

The ORP manages the closure of the 177 underground waste tanks and construction of a waste treatment plant. The mission of ORP is to retrieve and treat Hanford's tank waste and close the tank farms. ORP is moving the waste from 149 single-shell tanks, the oldest waste storage tanks on site 67 of which have leaked, to the 28 newer double-shell tanks, which have two carbon steel shells surrounded by reinforced concrete. ORP is overseeing the building of the Waste Treatment Plant (WTP) at the site to use vitrification to stabilize the waste in a form of glass. The WTP will be an industrial complex consisting of five major facilities: The Pretreatment Facility, where waste will be separated; the High-Level Waste and Low-Activity Waste facilities where the vitrification will take place; the Analytical Laboratory, to then test the product; and the Balance of Facilities, which will include 20 support facilities.

The DOE-RL is responsible for cleaning up the spent nuclear fuel, remaining plutonium, all buried and solid wastes, and Hanford Site facilities. The goal is to reduce the Hanford Site foot print to 75 square miles. Cleaning of the Columbia River Cooridor is expected to be complete by 2015. Then the focus will shift to transition the Central Plateau from waste storage to waste treatment and disposal operations, which are expected to last for 30 years. Hanford cleanup operations are expected to be complete by 2035.


As of 2008, the prime contractors of ORP are CH2M Hill Hanford Group, Inc., Bechtel National, Inc., and Advanced Technologies and Laboratories International, Inc. DOE-RL's prime contractors are Fluor Hanford, Inc. (FHI), Washington Closure Hanford, LLC (WCH), and AdvanceMed Hanford. Principal subcontractors to FHI are Duratek Federal Services of Hanford, Inc. and Numatec Hanford Corporation. Other subcontractors include Lockheed Martin Information Technology and Fluor Government Group. Eberline Services Hanford, Inc. is the principal subcontractor to WCH.

In the late 1990s, the Project Hanford Management Contractor was Fluor Daniel Hanford Team (FDH), which included Fluor Daniel Hanford, Inc., Lockheed Martin Hanford Corporation, Rust Federal Services of Hanford, Inc., Duke Engineering & Services Hanford, Inc., Babcock & Wilcox Hanford Company, Numatec Hanford Corporation, and DynaCorp Tri-Cities Services, Inc. Other major site contractors were Hanford Environmental Health Foundation (Sitewide Health Support), Battelle Memorial Institute (operates Pacific Northwest National Laboratory), and Bechtel Hanford, Incorporated (Environmental Restoration).


ORP is requesting $1,056 million in funding and is Rl requesting $1,689.2M for FY 2010. As of 2008, the annual budget was $2 billion. In FY 2005, the site had a workforce of approximately 11,000 and an annual budget of about $1.8 billion. The annual budget of for the initial five year period of the Project Hanford Management Contract, which started October 1, 1996, was projected at $4.8 billion. At that time, about 14,000 Department of Energy (DOE) and contractor personnel were employed at the site.

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