Friday, September 28, 2012

The Cleanup

Yesterday I went on a fascinating tour of the company projects. We left our building at 7:30a.m. and returned just in time for the end of a catered lunch the company provided for a safety meeting that we missed because of the tour. The company was so nice to have the caterers stay until the 11 of us returned. Very classy operation, don't you think? 
This tour was interesting because it is the 3rd time I've been out in "the area" and after doing data entry for a year, I am glad to understand a few of the terms I type in my entries. My job is to enter information gathered by radiological techs into a data base. Interestingly, when the waste from the nuclear plants was dumped 40+ years ago, they didn't keep much for records. 
Gene and I visited the B Reactor a couple of weeks ago (see Einstein Rocked It). Well, today the tour bus took us behind the reactor and I was informed that public tours don't get to go back there. We got to see 2 very deep holes in the ground that have been excavated for removal of chromium. Chromium. Yes, the Erin Brocovich kind of hexavalent chromium! Our guide took a lot of time explaining the process and what will happen next on that particular portion of the project. Eventually, the entire area will be restored. The water you see standing here is groundwater. Our guide told us that the level goes up and down on a daily basis according to whatever the river is doing. Luckily nobody lives within miles and miles of this area. The "area" is secured and when the cleanup is done, it will remain so.


Another part of the tour I found extremely interesting was the Enviromental Restoration Disposal Facility (ERDF). The dump. It is the most organized area I've ever seen. The lead guy came out and answered all our questions and gave a very good explanation in terms we could grasp, of what happens at ERDF. Basically, tons and tons of radiation soil/waste is brought to ERDF and it is covered up  by high-tech graders. He told us the graders have special GPS's in them and they know exactly how much they have to cover up by the beginning and ending coordinates on a big screen inside their cabs. Wouldn't you love to have that job? The area was meticulous and I was impressed with what a well-oiled machine the entire process seems to be. This area has a special liner laid down that has been tested and they figure it will take 1,200 years for it to deteriorate.
All in all, the tour gave me a lot of things to think about. Continued efforts for cleanup depend much upon money coming out of Washington D.C. Several times our guide said the elections will have a great impact on the future of how this remediation will go.
I know this post may be boring to most but for me, having toured the "area" and learning more about the history of The Manhattan Project is really interesting. If I didn't work out there, I'm not sure I'd really get it.
Do you have an area where you live that is a part of history?
love, susan

1 comment:

  1. Great job there Sue. This bog should be posted for all to see what is being done now.


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