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Ashford Town Board hears update on demolition at West Valley Demonstration Project

ALL SET — Pictured is the 01-14 building at the West Valley Demonstration Project, as it appeared on Dec. 18. The structure was completely deactivated and ready for demolition. Photos courtesy of CH2M Hill Vice President of Communication and External Affairs Lynette Bennett.
ASHFORD — The Ashford Town Board welcomed representatives from CH2M Hill and the West Valley Demonstration Project, to give an update about decommissioning work done on that local site.

On Feb. 13, 01-14 Building Demolition Project Manager Kirk Winterholler, along with several other representatives, briefed the Ashford Board on demolition done to the site’s building 01-14.

This multistory metal, block and concrete structure was originally built to house acid recovery systems, during nuclear fuel reprocessing activities. Per Winterholler, that acid recovery equipment was never used and has since been removed.

This building also contained a vitrification offgas treatment system. “Several complex radioactive systems ran through this building,” Winterholler said. “It wasn’t just like tearing down your house.”

The facility was comprised of three process cells and included various support areas. Winterholler said that the individuals’ working on the building had to be “very careful” when handling the equipment that needed to be removed, prior to demolition. That included reheaters; catalytic reactors; heating, ventilation and air conditioning blowers; filter housing; a waste dispensing vessel and systems piping.

DOWN IT COMES — Building 01-14 at the WVDP is pictured, during recent demolition activities.
The actual demolition began, just before the Christmas holiday, on the building and its support facilities. “We started from the outside in and then from the top down,” Winterholler said. Step one, which included the complete demolition of the control room, truck bay, conference room, motor control center rooms, clean drum room, ammonia pipe gallery and utility pipe bridge, is completed.

Step two, which includes the roof structure and exterior concrete block walls, is in progress.

“All contaminated material will be dealt with separately,” Winterholler said, adding that he hopes this building will be down on the ground by May 9.

To prepare building 01-14 for demolition, workers removed highly-contaminated piping, pumps and hazardous materials. Foaming and grouting was done on the waste dispensing vessel, reheaters and offgas piping, for removal. Fixative was applied to cells, sumps and contaminated piping internals.

Additional steps, including the removal of ventilation system filters, the isolation of air systems, the removal of hazardous materials throughout the building, the plugging and isolation of fire lines, the removal of asbestos-containing materials, the removal of shielded pipe chase sections and other site preparations, were completed. “This was a pilot project to show that this type of demolition can be done,” Winterholler said. “This is the first step of our demo.”

The WVDP representatives said that air monitoring, contamination surveys and radiological and environmental mitigation have been done, every step of the way, which is “important to people living around the site,” according to Winterholler. Air monitoring is done on an hourly basis, during the building’s demolition.

SETTLE DOWN — Workers at the West Valley Demonstration Project mitigated fugitive dust, using water for dust suppression.
Frequent surveys of the processor head and bucket and of debris are taken, throughout each day. Dust suppression is completed, while demolition is ongoing. All debris and equipment is locked down, at the end of the day.

Step three of this building’s decommissioning will include the demolition of the remainder of the facility. Waste will be shipped to Energy Solutions in Utah, via Alaron, Pa. According to Winterholler, a majority of the special equipment will be contained at the Nevada National Security Site. Waste water will be kept in an on-site interceptor, via holding tanks in the utility room.

The end state for this portion of the WVDP will be an earthen cover that slopes, north to south.

“It’s nice to see progress,” said Ashford Board Member John Pfeffer, thanking the WVDP representatives for their presentation. “This is the most exciting thing at the plant right now,” Winterholler said. “It’s great to be a part of.”

CH2M HILL B&W West Valley Manager Dan Coyne said that the team went through extensive training, to prepare for the demolition of building 01-14. “We treat everything like it’s contaminated, so we can train the workers,” he said.

In response to a question posed by Ashford Board Member Charlie Davis, Coyne said that progress was not as far along as he would like, but “we’re doing fine. We have been dealing with some changes. Where I want to be is to have this building on the ground. But we are making strides. We have the right leadership team and now it’s a matter of keeping people busy and hoping the money is coming in.”

Pfeffer pointed out that the labor being done on building 01-14 was the “most activity” people living close to the site have seen, “in a long time.”

Coyne said that the “next big visual” community members can expect to see is the moving of soil and the creation of a large, concrete pad.

Pfeffer said, “We need to emphasize, to elected officials, how important it is to clean this up.” The final monetary number the WVDP will receive for the upcoming fiscal year has not yet been announced.

In other news:
– The board authorized advertising for bids for the upcoming trash pickup, which is usually held prior to Memorial Day. Those bids will be opened, during the board’s March meeting.

– Board President Chris Gerwitz created a spreadsheet, documenting National Grid’s data on power collected from solar panels in town, per a request from Pfeffer. Gerwitz said he will provide this information on a monthly basis.

– The board authorized Clerk Patricia Dashnaw to send a congratulations letter to Mary Crandall, the West Valley firefighter of the year.

– Highway Superintendent Tim Engels reported that his department will be working with the town of Sardinia on correcting a visibility issue on Bolton and Creek roads.

– Bids for a 550 chassis, as well as bids for the trash pickup, will be opened at the March 13 meeting.

– Board Member Beverly Hess reported that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recently banded 19 turkey hens on her property, as part of its turkey hen study. This is part of a four-year, statewide study that will determine hen survival and harvest rates.

– The board discussed proposed NYS legislation that could require gun owners to take out a $1 million liability insurance policy on each firearm. “I am not a gun fanatic, but the town should do something about this,” Hess said.

Pfeffer said that the board’s only option would be to make a resolution disagreeing with this proposed legislation. “It’s the concept of backyard legislation to discourage people from owning guns,” Board Member William Heim said. “They are looking at frivolous lawsuits.”

– Dashnaw was approved to attend an annual town clerk conference.

The next Ashford Town Board meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 13 at 7:30 p.m.


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