Northwest News
4:38 pm
Thu May 17, 2012

Hanford Contractors Work Toward Moving Dangerous K-Basin Sludge

A new $11 million contract moves plans ahead to clean up radioactive sludge at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. It’s in an area called the K-West Basin just 400-yards from the Columbia River.

The spot is home to explosive, flammable, sandy and highly-radioactive sludge stored in six large containers. They’re shielded by water in a huge, aging, concrete basin.

Now, Hanford contractor CH2M Hill plans to prepare the site by retrofitting a building. That will set the stage for contractors to eventually remove that sludge and truck it deeper into Hanford further away from the river.

“It’s an aging facility, so naturally you want to get the material out as quickly as possible," says company spokeswoman Dee Millikin. "But it’s also a matter of doing it correctly.”

Millikin says the new staging area will be ready about this time next year. The sludge is leftover from making plutonium during World War II and the Cold War.

On the Web:

Hanford's K-Basins:
http://www.hanford.gov/page.cfm/K-Basins

Copyright 2012 Northwest Public Radio