Superfund Information Systems: Site Profile

Superfund Site:

HANFORD 300-AREA (USDOE)
BENTON COUNTY, WA

Cleanup Activities

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Background

The Hanford 300 Area is composed of a 0.52-square-mile industrial complex and one square mile of surrounding areas used for solid and liquid waste disposal next to the Columbia River about one-mile north of Richland, Washington. It is one of four areas at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation (Hanford) originally listed on EPA's National Priorities List (NPL).; the others are the 100, 200, and 1100 Areas. The 300 Area was home to the fuel manufacturing operations at Hanford as well as experimental and laboratory facilities. These areas are part of a Department of Energy (DOE) complex that includes buildings, disposal sites, an environmental research park and vacant land covering about 586 square miles. The DOE fabricated fuel for nuclear reactors and used other 300 Area facilities for research and development purposes. The 300 Area includes an unlined liquid disposal area north of the on-site industrial complex area, landfills and miscellaneous disposal sites associated with operations at the industrial complex.

Additional remediation projects also located in the 300 Area are the 618-10 and 618-11 burial grounds. The burial grounds contain wastes that were generated by activities in the 300 Area.

DOE and its predecessor disposed of about 27 million cubic yards of solid and diluted liquid wastes mixed with radioactive and hazardous wastes in ponds, trenches and landfills in the 300 Area. The areas used for liquid discharges had no outlets; therefore, liquids percolated through the soil into the groundwater and the Columbia River, which is located directly east and downgradient from the 300 Area. These activities contaminated soil, groundwater and surface water with hazardous chemicals, radioactive constituents, heavy metals and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). EPA divided the site into several cleanup areas, each with multiple operable units (OUs), to better address site contamination. Remedy construction has been completed at several OUs.

Remedial investigations, removal actions and remedy design and construction are underway at the remaining OUs.

Cleanup Areas

In 1988, Hanford was divided into four National Priorities List sites, including the 100, 200, 300, and 1100 Areas.

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What Has Been Done to Clean Up the Site?

The site is being addressed through state and federal actions.

In 1989, DOE, EPA and the state entered into the Hanford Federal Facility Agreement and Consent Order, also known as the Tri-Party Agreement. This agreement established the framework for cleaning up the Hanford site. The Hanford 300 Area is a 56 square mile area that includes a 0.5-square mile industrial complex next to the Columbia River and north of Richland, Washington. It had two main functions: fabricating uranium reactor fuel and research aimed at improving the production process. During the Cold War, many of the laboratories researched ways to expand and improve weapons production. Although some research and development on radioactive materials still takes place in the 300 Area, most of the old laboratories are being deactivated. Buildings have either already been or are currently being deactivated. EPA continues to provide oversight of cleanup at the Hanford Site.

The 300 Area NPL site is being addressed by two source OUs and one groundwater OU. Cleanup in the 300 Area has included soil removal and disposal, building demolition, and institutional controls. EPA has conducted several five-year reviews of the site’s remedies. These reviews ensure that the remedies put in place protect public health and the environment, and function as intended by site decision documents. The most recent review concluded that response actions completed to date are in accordance with the remedies selected. However, remedy construction is still underway and issuance of a protectiveness statement for the entire 300 Area NPL site has been deferred.

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What Is the Current Site Status?

DOE has conducted investigations and cleanup actions at the Hanford 300-Area site with EPA oversight. Cleanup actions completed to date include decontamination and demolition of contaminated structures; natural attenuation of groundwater contaminants; and disposal of tons of building rubble, contaminated soil, buried waste and debris in the on-site Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility (ERDF), a massive landfill built to provide safe disposal of waste generated by on-site remediation efforts.

A Final Record of Decision was signed in 2013. Current and remaining work at the site includes demolition and remediation of the 324 building (Waste Site 300-296) which is co-regulated with the Washington Department of Ecology, 618-11 Burial Grounds, groundwater restoration (300-FF-5) and retained facilities and waste sites.

Retained facilities and waste sites currently being used by the DOE Pacific Northwest National Laboratories and the Department of Homeland Security to support their mission have extended their lease at the 300 Area until 2045. During that time remediation activities will resume.

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