Hanford crews dispose of 15 million tons of waste at massive landfill

<p>ERDF</p>

ERDF

Cleanup crews at Hanford say they have reached a major milestone today, as they've now dumped a total of 15 million tons of contaminated materials into the site's massive landfill.

Many Hanford workers describe the landfill as the backbone of the cleanup process, and with 15 million tons of waste now buried in the landfill, workers say it is clear the overall cleanup work at the site is making substantial progress.

"What we're doing in a large scale is removing contamination that could be a threat to the groundwater of the Columbia River in the future" said Matt McCormick, Department of Energy.

Today, crews at the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility, or ERDF, dumped their 15 millionth ton of waste into the landfill.

Hanford crews have been pouring waste into ERDF since 1996.

Most of the contaminated materials come from Hanford's river corridor - a 220 square mile stretch of land along the Columbia River.

"There is positive progress at the Hanford site. While technical issues are being dealt with at the Waste Treatment Plant, we are making progress at the Hanford cleanup every day" said McCormick.

Each of the containers used to dump waste at ERDF can hold about 20 tons of contaminated materials.

Right now, crews at ERDF are dumping about 200 - 300 containers into the landfill every day.

"It's contaminated soil, building debris, like bricks, mortar, concrete, wood" said McCormick.

Crews are about 80% done cleaning up the river corridor, so the work is starting to slow down.

But today, crews are celebrating the accomplishments so far, as they look to completely clean up the hazardous space.

"I'm excited about this project every day. I mentioned in my remarks about the honorable mission we have here to clean up land along the river corridor, and to me, that's something personally that I will carry with me long beyond the cleanup effort here" said Carol Johnson, Washington Closure Hanford.

ERDF's capacity right now is 18 million tons of waste, so there is only space for 3 million more tons.

Workers expect to expand the landfill around 2018.

The landfill covers 107 acres - that's roughly the size of 52 football fields.