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Standing Tall: Hanford Reactor Cocoon Voted Local Project of the Year

Published: July 21, 2023


The K East Reactor operated from 1955 to 1971 and is the seventh of Hanford’s nine former reactors to be protected in an enclosure, or cocooned. The Columbia River Basin Chapter of the Project Management Institute recently honored the cocooning project as its 2023 Project of the Year. At left is the reactor building in October 2020, and at right is the reactor building in its protective enclosure in October 2022.

RICHLAND, Wash. – An EM priority project in 2022 continues to earn accolades in 2023.

The Columbia River Basin Chapter of the Project Management Institute (PMI) honored the Hanford Site project at its annual awards gala.

The PMI chapter presented the Project of the Year award to contractor Central Plateau Cleanup Company (CPCCo) for a project to construct a protective enclosure over the former K East Reactor building. The project was completed last October ahead of schedule and under budget.

“The safe, efficient, and cost-effective completion of this project marks a significant accomplishment in the DOE’s mission to reduce risk to the nearby Columbia River and moves us one step closer to completing all cleanup along the River Corridor,” said Office of River Protection and Richland Operations Office Manager Brian Vance in a letter endorsing the winning nomination. “I am proud of our One Hanford team’s performance, as we continue to deliver taxpayer value by safely completing projects like this that reduce risks to our workforce, our community, the Columbia River, and the environment of the Pacific Northwest.”

CPCCo crews finished constructing the protective enclosure, or cocoon, around the former K East Reactor building just a year after breaking ground on the project. The huge steel structure is more than 120 feet tall and 150 feet wide. The cocoon will protect the reactor building while the radioactivity in the deactivated reactor core decays over the next several decades.

“This is another well-deserved recognition for the entire K East cocooning project team,” said John Eschenberg, CPCCo president. “This project was a true collaborative effort, and to do it all with a spotless safety record speaks to the skill, focus and dedication of our project managers at all levels.”

The K East Reactor operated from 1955 to 1971 and is the seventh of nine former reactors to be cocooned at Hanford. The nearby K West Reactor will be the eighth. The ninth, the B Reactor, the world’s first full-scale plutonium production reactor, has been preserved and is part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Hanford’s other six reactors were cocooned between 1998 and 2012.

PMI is a global nonprofit organization with more than 300 local chapters dedicated to supporting project management. The organization is committed to providing individuals and organizations with opportunities to be successful through education, resources and networking. The Columbia River Basin Chapter’s annual gala recognizes and honors local project teams for superior performance and exemplary project management.

-Contributor: Dieter Bohrmann
Source: EM Newsletter

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