DOE awards Argonne $99 million to clean up past, pave way for future research, construction activities

By Angela HardinApril 3, 2009

ARGONNE, Ill. – The U.S. Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory will receive $99 million in additional funding as part of President Obama's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The funds will be used to clean up several of Argonne's former nuclear research facilities and pave the way for future construction and research activities at the lab.

“We are proud to be one of the first organizations to launch recovery plans, creating jobs that will accelerate our environmental cleanup priorities and make land available for future beneficial uses,” said DOE Acting Assistant Secretary Dr. Inés Triay. “Our ability to quickly implement projects for cleanup is a direct result of the strategic planning completed by the department earlier this year, following extensive coordination with our regulators, states and communities.”

"The projects will create hundreds of jobs in Illinois (Argonne estimate) at the peak of project implementation and waste cleanout,” said Gail Stine, director of the Facilities Management and Services Division at Argonne. The funds are part of $6 billion in additional funding allocated to DOE's Office of Environmental Management.

Argonne will use $50 million to remove and dispose of irradiated fuel specimens and other waste materials from the Alpha Gamma Hot Cell Facility, Stine said. Argonne will use another $35 million to demolish two excess nuclear facilities, including the former Chicago Pile-5 (CP-5) research reactor facility. The decontamination and decommissioning of CP-5 began in 1990 and was completed in 2000. The demolition of the facility will take about two years to complete.

The other demolition project involves the decontamination, decommissioning and demolition of Building 310, which was used from the early 1950s to 1992 for nuclear fuel component experiments, as well as non-radiological experiments. Argonne will use up to half a dozen subcontractors to handle some of the project's specialized tasks, which range from clean-up activities to the handling of radiological waste materials, and building demolition work, Stine said. Argonne expects to issue requests for proposals or invitations for bid for this work over the next three to nine months.

The remaining funds, Stine said, will be used to characterize, certify, load, ship and dispose of transuranic waste at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N. M.

Argonne is working closely with DOE to develop a schedule to complete each project and will manage all four projects, she said.

"Completion of the projects will aid Argonne's research capability and is in line with the laboratory's modernization initiatives," Stine said.