TriCityHerald: Hanford Removes the Plutonium Recycle Test Reactor Dome

- Edited By Tom Lamar -

The iconic dome of Hanford's Plutonium Recycle Test Reactor just north of Richland no longer stands.

The 80-foot-high dome was one of the most distinctive and visible Hanford sights, rising over buildings in the 300 Area just north of Richland.

While the nine boxy reactors in north Hanford produced plutonium for the nation's nuclear weapons program, the test reactor with its round dome was built for President Eisenhower's Atoms for Peace initiative. It was used to test alternative fuels for commercial power production.

Saturday the containment dome of the reactor was lifted off, as contractor Washington Closure Hanford got a break in the windy weather to do the work.

"It went as planned," said Gary Snow, deputy director of deactivation and demolition for Washington Closure. "The folks involved did a terrific job of planning it in a safe manner."

Work was under way months ago to remove hazardous materials from the dome and then start cutting it.

The dome was made of carbon steel a little more than a quarter-inch thick and stood on top of concrete and steel circular walls. Workers drilled holes around the perimeter of the base of the dome and then made 42 cuts between the holes to slice off the top.

The cuts were made with a saw attached to a crane that was used within the dome when the reactor was operating. The crane rotates completely around the interior of the dome.

"Washington Closure Hanford did a good job of engineering (the demolition) so they could use that crane," said Mark French, Department of Energy project director for environmental cleanup along the Columbia River.

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Pictures from DOE

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