EPA ID# WA1890090078
EPA Region 10
Benton County

4th Congressional District

Other Names: US DOE-Hanford Site-200-Area
Last Update: May, 2010

Hide details for Site DescriptionSite Description

The Hanford 200 Area covers approximately 60 square miles with 80 square miles of contaminated groundwater about 20 miles north of Richland, Washington. It is one of the four areas at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation (Hanford) on EPA’s National Priorities List (NPL). The other three are the 100, 300, and 1100 Areas. These areas are part of a 586-square-mile U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) complex that includes buildings, disposal sites, an environmental research park, and open land used for habitat and a buffer zone. Hanford was established in the 1940s to make plutonium for nuclear weapons. The nearby Columbia River provided cooling waters for the reactors producing the nuclear materials. After World War II, plutonium production capacity was greatly expanded as a Cold War activity. The Atomic Energy Commission was in charge of these operations from the 1940s until Congress created DOE in 1977. Over the years, Hanford expanded its role to include research and development uses of nuclear materials.

The 200 Area site is in the middle of Hanford on the central plateau and contains the former chemical processing plants and waste management facilities. One of the old plants discharged massive quantities of carbon tetrachloride to the ground. The 200 Area was used to process, finish, and manage nuclear materials, including plutonium. About 1 billion cubic yards of solid and diluted liquid wastes (radioactive, mixed, and hazardous substances) were disposed in trenches, ditches, and in a landfill in the site. More than 800 waste disposal locations have been identified in the 200 Area.

The cities of Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick, with a combined population of approximately 200,000, maintain water intakes in the Columbia River for the bulk of their municipal supply system, but occasionally mix it with groundwater from municipal wells. Over half a million people live within 50 miles of Hanford.

Site Responsibility: This site is being addressed through federal and state actions.

NPL Listing HistoryDates
Proposed Date:06/24/1988
Removed Date:
Withdrawal Date:
Final Date:10/04/1989
Deleted Date:

Hide details for Threats and ContaminantsThreats and Contaminants

Media Affected: Air, Environmentally Sensitive Area, Groundwater, Soil & Sludges, Surface Water
On-site groundwater and soil are contaminated with tritium, uranium, cyanide, carbon tetrachloride, technetium, and other contaminants. Surface water intakes on the Columbia River for the city of Richland contain low levels of tritium. People may be exposed to hazardous or radioactive substances on site through direct contact with, or accidental ingestion of, contaminated particles, groundwater, or surface water.

Hide details for Cleanup ProgressCleanup Progress

In May 1989, EPA, the Washington State Department of Ecology (Ecology), and DOE entered into an Interagency Agreement and Consent Order to provide a legal and procedural framework for cleanup and regulatory compliance at the DOE’s waste sites at Hanford. EPA, DOE, and Ecology jointly developed an action plan that addresses Superfund and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA)-related issues at Hanford.

Since 1992, approximately 175,437 pounds of carbon tetrachloride have been extracted from the soil through soil vapor extraction. In a separate action, approximately 26,356 pounds of carbon tetrachloride have been removed from groundwater to date (1.2 billion gallons pumped). In addition, another groundwater pump and treat system has removed 545 pounds of uranium and approximately 0.38 pounds of technetium-99. Eight hundred soil waste sites have been organized into 27 operable units for characterization and remediation. Characterization of these operable units is ongoing and is scheduled to be complete by 2011. However, due to other priorities (focus on River Corridor cleanup in the 100 and 300 Area NPL sites) and technical challenges, the Tri-Party agencies are proposing changes to the Tri-Party Agreement schedules to extend this period to 2016.

The partial decontamination and safe demolition of a plutonium concentration facility and three buildings at the Plutonium Finishing Plant (PFP) were completed, as well as the demolition of 54 structures ancillary to two former processing facilities. The Record of Decision for remediation of one of the processing facilities was completed, and remedial design work has begun. At the Plutonium Finishing Plant, stabilization of product material has been completed and the inventory of stored product has been shipped to South Carolina (completed in 2009). Fourteen buildings and structures were demolished in the 200 Area in 2009, including three in the 200-north area that used to store fuel from the reactors for temporary cooling before processing in the large facilities in the main part of the 200 Area.

Approximately 1,750 feet of pipeline leading to waste disposal locations in the western portion of the 200 Area was recently removed along with 400,000 tons of contaminated soil and then disposed of at the Environmental Restoration and Disposal Facility (ERDF), a modern Superfund landfill that meets RCRA technical requirements for a hazardous waste landfill. Over 9,340,000 tons of waste, including building rubble, contaminated soil, and burial ground contents have been removed from cleanup activities across the Hanford site and disposed of at ERDF. ERDF is being expanded with two new "supercells" that are the equivalent of four original disposal cells. Approximately 80,000 tons of contaminated soil and building demolition debris has been removed from sites in the 200-north area and the outer zone of the 200 Area. Several sites in the 200-north area have been verified as meeting cleanup objectives. About 97,000 tons of soil has been excavated from the BC Control Area and disposed of in ERDF. The BC Control Area was contaminated when animal intrusion occurred at the nearby BC Cribs and Trenches back when the cribs were in operation. Work is underway on cleaning up sites on the periphery of the central plateau. A removal action for simple sites on the periphery of the 200 Area (200-MG-1 operable unit) just commenced. Sites outside the core zone will be cleanup up consistent with what would meet unrestricted surface exposure.

Over 50,438 drum-equivalents (covers drums and boxes) have been retrieved from burial grounds out of an estimated total of 75,000 drums equivalents. Approximately half those drums contained transuranic waste that is destined for disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico. So far 15,957 drums have been shipped to WIPP. The last of the single-shelled tanks have been interim-stabilized per a Consent Decree. A vitrification facility is being constructed to glassify or vitrify waste from the tank farms in the 200 Area. The high-level glass will be sent offsite to a geologic repository, while the low-activity waste will be stored and eventually disposed of in the 200 Area in an approved disposal facility currently being constructed. Seismic design issues have been resolved and construction of the vitrification facility have been resumed.

Show details for Regional ContactsRegional Contacts