Located in the 200-West Area of Hanford adjacent to the T-Plant (also known as the 221-T Canyon Building) is the 224-T Facility. Originally constructed in 1944 and designated as the 224-T Bulk Reduction Building, the facility was used as part of the T-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 T-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 within the fuel rod during the nuclear chain reaction.
The main function of the 224-T Facility was to purify and concentrate the plutonium recovered from that plutonium nitrate slurry after it came out of the T-Plant. Plutonium concentration operations were performed in conjunction with T-Plant separation activities from January, 1945, until early in 1956. That was when the methods used in the T-Plant to dissolve away the fuel rods were replaced by more efficient processes. As a result, 224-T was idle until 1975. In 1975, 224-T was modified to meet requirements for storing plutonium-bearing scraps and liquids. In 1985, a section of 224-T became the Transuranic Waste Storage and Assay Facility (TRUSAF) and operated in that capacity until the late 1990’s.
Today, the only activity at the 224-T 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.