EPA ID# WA1890090078
EPA Region 10
Benton County

4th Congressional District

Other Names: US DOE-Hanford Site-200-Area
Last Update: December, 2006

Hide details for Site DescriptionSite Description

The Hanford 200 Area covers approximately 60 square miles with over 120 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 to the ground massive quantities of carbon tetrachloride. 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 site locations have been identified in the 200 Area.

The cities of Richland, Pasco, and Kennewick, with a combined population of approximately 150,000, 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 a Federal Facility 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 173,300 pounds of carbon tetrachloride have been extracted from the soil through soil vapor extraction. In a separate action, approximately 20,745 pounds of carbon tetrachloride have been removed from groundwater to date. In addition, another groundwater pump and treat system has removed 447 pounds of uranium and approximately 1/4 pound of technetium-99. Eight hundred soil waste sites have been organized into 24 operable units for characterization and remediation. Characterization of these operable units is ongoing and is scheduled to be complete by 2011. Learning from early characterization work in the 200 Area, DOE, Ecology and EPA have recently agreed to a large supplemental characterization effort for many of the complex waste sites to provide the optimum information upon which to base cleanup decisions.

The partial decontamination and safe demolition of a plutonium concentration facility was completed, as well as the demolition of 32 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. Stabilization of product material was completed at the Plutonium Finishing Plant. More than feet of pipeline leading to waste disposal locations in the western portion of the 200 Area was recently removed along with contaminated soil and 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 6,779,000 tons of waste including building rubble, contaminated soil and burial grounds contents have been removed from cleanup activities at Hanford and disposed of at ERDF.

Over 22,600 drums have been removed from burial grounds out of an estimated total of 75,000 drums. Approximately half of those drums contained transuranic waste that is destined for disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico. So far, 9,200 drums have been shipped to WIPP. The last of the single-shelled tanks have been emptied of free liquids, thus reducing a large source of contamination to soil and groundwater. A massive 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. Recently, issues with the seismic design of the vitrification facility stalled construction. However, those issues have been resolved and construction continues.

Hide details for Regional ContactsRegional Contacts

SITE MANAGER(S):Craig Cameron
E-MAIL ADDRESS:cameron.craig@epa.gov
PHONE NUMBER:509-376-8665
E-MAIL ADDRESSfaulk.dennis@epa.gov
PHONE NUMBER:509-376-8631
Information pertaining to this site is housed at the following location(s):
Public Access Room (Administrative Record)
2440 Stevens Center Place, Room 1101
Richland, Washington 99352