Located adjacent to the B-Plant (which is also known as the 221-B Canyon Building) is the 224-B Facility. The building is in the northwest part of the 200-East Area of Hanford, and was used as part of the B-Plant’s process to extract plutonium from uranium fuel rods which had been irradiated in one of Hanford’s nuclear reactors.
Processing facilities like the B-Plant would take these irradiated fuel rods and put them through a series of chemical “baths”. The chemicals would dissolve away the fuel rods, turning the metal into a liquid form called “slurry”. Included in the slurry was the trace amount of plutonium that had been produced in the fuel rod during the nuclear chain reaction.
The main function of the 224-B Facility was to purify and concentrate the plutonium recovered from that slurry after it came out of the B-Plant. Plutonium concentration operations were performed in conjunction with B-Plant separation activities from 1945 until 1952. After that, the methods used in the B-Plant to dissolve away the fuel rods were replaced by more efficient processes and 224-B was deactivated.
The facility was permanently deactivated during 1985-1986 and it has been unoccupied in a surveillance and maintenance mode since 1993. Today, the only activity at the 224-B Facility is routine surveillance and maintenance which is done to confine any hazardous materials within the building until the structure can be safely decontaminated and demolished.