Hanford Milestone: Workers finish cleanup of hazardous landfill near Richland and river

Current state of 618-10 Burial Ground being filled with soil.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Workers have completed cleanup at one of the nation’s most contaminated landfills at the Hanford Site.

Workers at the Hanford Site recently finished remediation of the 618-10 Burial Ground and surrounding waste sites, an eight-year effort. Recent sampling results for the Burial Ground and two nearby waste sites confirmed this completion.

"The mission of this project is about reducing contamination that's near the river and near our communities,” said Mike Jennings, CH2M project director of the 618-10 Project.

The 618-10 Burial Ground was the dumping location for highly radioactive waste generated in Hanford’s fuel fabrication and research and development facilities in the 300 Area, during the 1950s and 1960s.

Poor recordkeeping at the time meant many of the waste types were unknown, requiring additional sampling, worker training, and the development of new waste retrieval methods to safely remove the material.

Jennings said this project is key because it takes the hazardous waste that was disposed of in a manner that is not conducive with current regulations and requirements, retrieves it, and puts in in a compliant configuration in a licensed and permitted landfill that is 30 miles from the site.

“It’s now well off the river in a protected status to protect our environment," Jennings added.

The magnitude of this cleanup project is unfathomable. During cleanup on the nearly 8-acre burial ground, workers retrieved 2,201 55-gallon drums, debris, and 94 Vertical Pipe Units that were buried more than 20 feet below ground.

In total, workers removed more than half a million tons of contaminated soil and waste debris. That is the is the equivalent of six football fields of waste filled up to the top of the goal posts.

That waste was processed and taken to Hanford’s engineered, hazardous-waste landfill, called the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility (ERDF). Jennings said some of the waste was solidified into concrete. Other waste drums that were intact, they’d process or utilize other local vendors to help process the waste.

Leaders of the 618-10 Project said their team of workers always focused on safety throughout the rigorous process of remediating the burial grounds.

"The thing I'm most proud about on this job is with the amount of equipment used, the amount of trucks going up and down the road, the amount of risk that was reduced to the Columbia River, was the fact that we did this job with over 200 people with no recordable injuries, no personnel contaminations, and no contaminations to the environment," said Tammy Hobbes, CH2M vice president of the 618-10 Project.

Now workers with the Department of Energy (DOE) contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company (CHPRC) are filling in the landfill at the 618-10 Burial Grounds, with the focus on environmental restoration.

The hole will be backfilled with soil by the spring of 2018. Then the area will be graded to a natural contour and native vegetation will be planted in the winter of 2018 to help restore the site to a natural state.

"I'd like thank all of the people who worked on this project for the past 8 years,” said Bryan Foley, federal project director with River Corridor Closure Project, part of the DOE Richland Operations Office. “People have come and gone and invested their careers in this site during the cleanup. I hope they’re all proud of the legacy that they've contributed to the Hanford cleanup.”

Leaders of this project said this completion is a great testament to the community that Hanford workers are a part of and proud to work for.

“We do put ourselves at risk out here working with hazardous materials, but we're doing it for the betterment of the community and the United States," Jennings said.

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