Nine reactors were operated at various times at the Hanford Site for the production of
plutonium. Plutonium separation from irradiated fuel started at the Hanford Site in
December 1944 in T-Plant in the 200-West Area. Processed material from T-Plant was
transferred to 224-T and to 231-Z for additional processing. The final Hanford product was
a plutonium nitrate paste which was shipped to Los Alamos for further processing. A sister
facility, B-Plant, was constructed to increase capacity. A new facility, Redox, was started in
1952 using a new, more efficient process. Another plutonium separations facility soon
followed, the PUREX Plant, in 1955. Because of the capacity of this new process and its
efficiency, T-Plant, B-Plant, and Redox were shut down. Plutonium purification and further
processing was conducted in 234-5 facility. A detailed history of these facilities and
processes can be found in WHC-MR-0437, A Brief History of the Purex and UO3 Facilities
(Gerber, 1993), and in WHC-MR-0452, Dramatic Change at T Plant (Gerber, 1994). It may
be noted that PUREX is also currently shut down.
A large number of support facilities were required for the plutonium separations activities.
Analytical and testing laboratories and research and development facilities used in the
support of the plutonium activities are located in the 200-East, 200-West, and 300 Areas.
Specific buildings handling plutonium in the 300 Area include 3706 in the early years and
308, 324, 325, 329, 331 and 3720 in the later years to the current time. Building 331 used
plutonium aerosols for inhalation uptake studies. Building 326 also performed analyses and
measurements on small quantities of plutonium, generally environmental levels.
There are no plutonium production or processing activities currently active at the Hanford
LAWRENCE LIVERMORE NATIONAL LABORATORY
The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory conducts significant design, development,
and quality control activities using plutonium. The Plutonium Facility (Building 332) was
constructed in 1960 to provide a capability for safe handling and storage of plutonium in
support of the laboratory's metallurgical research and development effort and the nuclear
weapons design program. The facility has been expanded and upgraded several times to
increase capacity and enhance safety features. All the capabilities necessary for fabrication
of plutonium weapons parts and the metallurgical evaluations accompanying those
operations are available within the facility. The Laser Isotope Separation program has been
a major user of the facility.
IDAHO NATIONAL ENGINEERING LABORATORY
The INEL use of plutonium is associated primarily with two areas. The Radioactive Waste
Management Complex (RWMC) has in the past received plutonium wastes from DOE
facilities such as Rocky Flats and Mound Laboratory. Plutonium waste at the RWMC is
stored pending characterization and eventual disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.
Other INEL facilities using plutonium are the Argonne National Laboratory - West Site; the
EBR II reactor, a fast breeder reactor fueled with plutonium and the Fuel Conversion
Facility, built to demonstrate the concept of removing EBR II fuel, processing it in an
enclosed attached facility, and reusing the plutonium and actinides in refueling the reactor.
Closure of these facilities curtailed these functions, but the remaining fuel is still stored
pending eventual disposal. Additional plutonium was used at the Zero Power Reactor for