Demolition is continuing on the last of 32 inactive facilities scheduled to be removed as part of the current cleanup scope at the U.S. Department of Energy Paducah site.
When demolition is completed this fall on the C-410 Feed Plant, the site will be rid of a structure contaminated with asbestos and a low-level radioactive chemical compound called uranium hexaflouride, according to the DOE. The C-410 complex â “ roughly the size of four football fields â “ operated from 1957 to 1977 to produce uranium hexaflouride and fluorine.
"This is a significant accomplishment in our mission of safely cleaning up the site and reducing risk to the environment and the public," according to Rob Siefert, DOE C-410 project manager.
The feed plant demolition began May 13. Large shear-equipped excavators are tearing down the structure from east to west. Operators are cutting steel and other debris into smaller pieces to be shipped in heavily lined and covered railcars to a commercial disposal site.
"Our main objective is to remove the building and dispose of the waste safely and efficiently," said Butch Nolan, feed plant manager for LATA Kentucky, the DOE cleanup contractor.
LATA Kentucky announced in mid February approximately $102 million was allotted for its part of the cleanup operations, out of the spending bill passed by Congress for the current fiscal year, which would result in about 95 jobs.
To prepare the eastern area for demolition, crews removed about 800 of the facility's 2,600 panels of exterior siding, each weighing up to 175 pounds. The siding, which contained asbestos, was manually removed and double-wrapped with protective material to guard against airborne contamination prior to disposal in the site's industrial landfill, according to the DOE. Siding removal on the building's west side continues.
Demolition of an eastern expansion of the feed plant, covering about half an acre, was completed ahead of schedule in late June 2011 as a result of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding. After that funding ended, workers continued to clean up the rest of the building to prepare it for demolition.
In 2012 and 2013, workers used special equipment to treat nearly two miles of uranium hexafluoride piping to make it safe for removal.
Workers also removed asbestos wiring and removed and packaged 20 large pieces of equipment known as cold traps. Weighing more than five tons each, the cold traps were used to trap uranium hexafluoride gas and turn it into a solid.
They were stored at the site for future recovery of uranium hexaflouride material during plant decommissioning; then systems are in place to remove the material safely, according to the DOE.