Hanford

The Hanford site serves as a key piece of the Tri-City economy.  Our special coverage takes a closer look at Hanford’s workforce, cleanup efforts and costs, and the status of key projects, including the massive vitrification plant currently under construction at the 586-square-mile site in our backyard.

Workers assess a tank at its pipe opening in the A Tank farm.
(Courtesy Washington River Protection Solutions)

Methods tested to speed waste withdrawal from tanks

Washington River Protection Solutions is considering cutting new holes in Hanford’s single-shell tanks — openings that could potentially reach up to six feet in diameter.   Currently, the holes in the tops of Hanford’s underground tanks are very narrow with extremely long pipes connecting the surface with the radioactive sludge and fluids in the tanks. Collapsible…

Tri-City leaders continue to focus on building an economy with higher-paying jobs that don't rely on Hanford. (File photo)

Tri-City leaders look to economy after Hanford

Tri-City leaders remain focused on efforts to diversify the economy, create jobs and expand employment sectors beyond Hanford and the roles offered by the U.S. Department of Energy and its contractors. “TRIDEC has made this a top priority for decades,” said David Reeploeg, vice president of federal programs at the Tri-City Development Council. The effort…

A AX Farms

Emptying toxic waste from tanks at Hanford a taxing task

By Arielle Dreher In a way, when it comes to tank waste at the Hanford site, the easy stuff has been done. Toxic liquid waste can be transferred until it’s disposed of with a pump. But what about solid waste? What about a million-gallon tank with solidified toxic waste sitting inside? What about 177 of…

PUREX

PUREX tunnels stabilized after collapse

By Arielle Dreher Nearly two years after a 20-by-20 foot portion of the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant’s Tunnel 1 caved in, both it and its larger sibling, Tunnel 2, have been stabilized. On May 9, 2017, U.S. Department of Energy workers discovered the 20-foot collapse of Tunnel 1, after noticing a background increase in radiation…

Plutonium Finishing Plant

Risks linger with Plutonium Finishing Plant’s demolition

By Arielle Dreher The Plutonium Finishing Plant used to be called the Z Plant when the Hanford nuclear site produced plutonium because it was the end of production of the radioactive material before it was shipped to weapons production facilities. The PFP was a group of 60 buildings, which began operating in 1949, where workers…

waste treatment plant

Vit plant ramps up for next phase

Round-the-clock staffing is in place at the Hanford Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant as Bechtel National Inc. prepares to process low-activity waste by 2023, but possibly as soon as 2022. There hasn’t been 24/7 staffing at Hanford in more than 20 years. Earlier this year, the analytical laboratory at the plant entered its startup phase,…

Hanford roadwork

Small businesses tap into government work

The U.S. Department of Energy’s prime contractors awarded nearly $785 million in subcontracts in fiscal 2018, a figure representing more than 30 percent of Hanford’s roughly $2.4 billion budget that year, according to a recent Department of Energy report. While most of the prime contractors have aggressive small business subcontracting goals written into their contracts,…