The demolition of highly contaminated plutonium buildings usually is a long and expensive process that involves decontaminating the building to near free-release standards and then using conventional methods to remove the structure. It doesn’t, however, have to be that way. Fluor has torn down buildings highly contaminated with plutonium without excessive decontamination. By removing the select source term and fixing the remaining contamination on the walls, ceilings, floors, and equipment surfaces; open-air demolition is not only feasible, but it can be done cheaper, better (safer), and faster. Open-air demolition techniques were used to demolish two highly contaminated buildings to slab-on-grade. These facilities on the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site were located in, or very near, compounds of operating nuclear facilities that housed hundreds of people working on a daily basis. To keep the facilities operating and the personnel safe, the projects had to be creative in demolishing the structures. Several key techniques were used to control contamination and keep it within the confines of the demolition area: spraying fixatives before demolition; applying fixative and misting with a fine spray of water as the buildings were being taken down; and demolishing the buildings in a controlled and methodical manner. In addition, detailed air-dispersion modeling was done to establish necessary building and meteorological conditions and to confirm the adequacy of the proposed methods. Both demolition projects were accomplished without any spread of contamination outside the modest buffer areas established for contamination control. Furthermore, personnel exposure to radiological and physical hazards was significantly reduced by using heavy equipment rather than “hands on” techniques.

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