ARCO — A waste retrieval facility constructed over a former buried radioactive waste disposal cell known as Pit 9 at the Department of Energy’s Idaho Site has been repurposed and is treating 6,000 drums of sludge waste left over from the Cold War weapons program.

     The Idaho Department of Environmental Quality recently issued a permit for the Accelerated Retrieval Project-V facility to store and treat waste generated at the Rocky Flats Plant near Denver, Colorado, and shipped to Idaho for above-ground disposal.

     The project, managed by CH2M-WG Idaho, the main cleanup contractor at the DOE’s Idaho Site, is expected to take 18 months to complete.

Using the ARP-V facility saved the DOE millions of dollars over the cost of constructing a new storage and treatment facility.

     Stored on a pad and covered with soil for more than 30 years, the waste was not allowed to be shipped to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico for permanent disposal because it contained small amounts of liquid from sludge containing both carbon tetrachloride and plutonium.

    All 6,000 drums will be opened within a secondary-containment area by specially designed excavators where operators wear protective clothing with supplied air. A liquid-absorbing material will be added to the waste prior to repackaging and shipping certification.  

     The ARP-V facility, a steel-framed, fabric building, was originally constructed in 2010 over Pit 9 and in January 2011 CWI began removing radioactive and hazardous waste buried since 1969. CWI completed the cleanup of Pit 9 in August 2011 a year ahead of schedule and millions of dollars under budget.

     CH2M-WG Idaho, LLC, (CWI) is a partnership comprised of CH2MHill and the URS Corporation that directs the Idaho Cleanup Project at the Department of Energy’s Idaho Site located 45 miles west of Idaho Falls. The 3-year, $730 million project, funded through the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management, focuses on early risk reduction and protection of the Snake River Plain Aquifer.

    For more information visit the Idaho Cleanup Project on the web at idahocleanupproject.com.