Metals Plant Removal Boosts DOE Local Site Cleanup
By Joe Walker, LATA Kentucky
PADUCAH, KY - Cleanup efforts at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Paducah Site have taken a significant step forward with the demolition of one of the site’s most contaminated structures.
DOE remediation contractor LATA Environmental Services of Kentucky reduced the C-340 Metals Complex to slab as of Feb. 12, nearly two months ahead of the DOE schedule and within budget. The project began Sept. 26, 2012.
Better known as the Metals Plant, the facility was used to manufacture uranium metal during the Cold War and contained polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), radionuclides, and asbestos. It is the first uranium processing facility at the site to undergo full-scale demolition.
“This is a major accomplishment toward cleaning up the site,” said Rob Seifert, DOE Paducah project manager. “Safe, compliant, timely, and efficient removal of these types of facilities is a priority for DOE.”
The Metals Plant encompassed about 1.5 million cubic feet, the volume of a football field roughly three stories tall. Demolition of a single-story section was completed in mid-December, followed by removal of a four-story section. A seven-story, 120-foot-high section – the tallest building at the site – was the last to be taken down.
To prepare for demolition, workers wore protective equipment and used high-reach lifts to manually remove about 2,000 panels of cement asbestos siding. The panels were roughly 10½ feet long by 3½ feet wide and weighed as much as 170 pounds. Heavy equipment lowered the panels to the ground.
Crews in December identified more crumbly asbestos in parts of the complex and hand removed the material during three weeks of wintry weather so that demolition could resume.
“The team’s hard work overcame this hurdle, minimized the delay to the demolition contractor, and maintained progress toward final demolition,” Seifert said.
Hand removing the siding was one of several measures specified in a work plan approved by DOE and regulatory agencies to prevent releasing asbestos from the siding during demolition. Other measures included allowing only those directly involved in removal to enter the work zone; monitoring the air in worker breathing zones and on the perimeter of the work zone; applying special paint to the siding to guard against asbestos becoming airborne; and spraying mist in the demolition area.
All waste generated from the project is scheduled to be dispositioned by April 2013. About 22 rail cars will have been loaded with nearly 1,500 tons of PCB-contaminated waste destined for an approved disposal facility in Utah. Approximately another 1,500 tons of demolition debris will have been taken to the site’s industrial landfill.
Located on the east side of the site, the Metals Plant operated from 1956 until the mid-1980s. Besides producing uranium metal, the facility converted depleted uranium hexafluoride (UF6) into uranium tetrafluoride (UF4), known as green salt. Green salt was used in other manufacturing processes.
Accelerated cleanup under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act previously allowed for removal of more than 100,000 cubic feet of systems waste, enough to fill roughly 200 dump trucks. The Metals Plant was declared demolition-ready in early August 2011, avoiding $2.5 million in inflationary costs by being cleaned up five years ahead of schedule.
Photos to the left, from top to bottom, are of the Metals plant shown before, during and after workers began removing lower transite panels from parts of the structure on Aug. 22 and progressed to higher areas before completing panel removal on Dec. 19, 2012. Part of the building had to be demolished to allow workers and equipment to get into position to remove the rest of the panels. About half the complex was demolished by the end of 2012, ahead of the DOE schedule. An ultra-high-reach demolition machine – similar to equipment used to demolish Yankee Stadium – in late January cuts into upper portions of the building’s last standing section, which is 120 feet high. Bottom photo, shows where shearers cut debris from final demolition.