Fluor designed, built, and operated first-of-a-kind equipment and processes in the existing K-Basin facilities to move, process, and dry the spent nuclear fuel that had resided in 1.5 million gallons of water. To effectively dry the nuclear byproduct, the company designed, constructed, and operated the Hanford Cold Vacuum Drying Facility, a first-of-a-kind, 12,000-square-foot structure. Fluor successfully removed the spent nuclear fuel over a four-year period, completing the first stage in November 2004. At completion, Fluor workers had removed more than 4 million pounds of fuel, 370 tons of debris, and 50 million curries of radioactivity.
The next phase of the K-Basins cleanup project included the removal of radioactive sludge that had accumulated in the K-Basins’ storage structures. Fluor developed innovative tools to vacuum the sludge and consolidate it in underwater containers. The project successfully met the milestone established by federal and state regulators. The final phase involves draining and transporting the million gallons of water stored in the basins. The K-East Basin has been drained and is undergoing demolition, while K-West Basin maintains safe underwater storage of the sludge pending removal and treatment.
The project has achieved a significant health and safety success on some of the highest risk work at the site. Over a four-year period, Fluor employees worked 4 million hours without a lost-day case.