Hanford reactor unsealed for inspection via World Nuclear News

Workers have entered the cocooned former plutonium-producing F Reactor at the Hanford site in the USA for the first time in six years to conduct a scheduled inspection.

The reactor was sealed in 2003 with its core encased in a concrete shell as part of the so-called interim safe storage process, which allows time for radiation levels to decay naturally. Workers last inspected the inside of the reactor in 2008.

The Department of Energy (DOE), which manages the site, said the welds around the steel door of the F Reactor were removed last week, allowing workers to once again enter it. Once the inspection was completed, the door was resealed.

Mission Support Alliance director of long-term stewardship Rick Moren said, “This inspection gives us an opportunity to conduct radiological surveys, make any repairs to the roof and remove any hazardous substances.” He added, “During the inspection, workers found the reactor to be in good shape and almost identical to the last time it was inspected.”

Hanford was a plutonium production complex with nine nuclear reactors and associated processing facilities that which played a pivotal role in US defence for more than 40 years. The site is now undergoing environmental cleanup managed by the DOE.

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