The 400 Area at Hanford is home primarily to the Fast Flux Test Facility (FFTF), a DOE-owned, formerly operating, 400-megawatt (thermal) liquid-metal (sodium)-cooled nuclear research and test reactor located within the FFTF Property Protected Area (PPA), along with numerous support buildings and structures. The original purpose of the facility, although not a breeder reactor, was to develop and test advanced fuels and materials for the Liquid Fast-Breeder Reactor Program; other missions were subsequently pursued. Construction of FFTF was completed in 1978, and initial criticality was achieved in early 1980, with full power initiated in late 1980. Following an additional year of acceptance testing, FFTF operated successfully from 1982 to 1992 as a research facility providing the nuclear industry with advances in nuclear fuels, materials, and components; nuclear power plant operations and maintenance protocols; and reactor safety designs. During this time, FFTF also produced a wide variety of medical and industrial isotopes, made hydrogen-3 (tritium) for the U.S. fusion research program, and conducted cooperative international research work. In late 1993, DOE decided not to continue operating FFTF due to a lack of economically viable missions at that time and issued a shutdown (e.g., deactivation) order for the facility. Since that time, and, after various delays temporarily stopping the deactivation work, FFTF completed deactivation activities and was placed in a long-term, low-cost surveillance and maintenance condition in 2009. Currently, proposed alternatives for the final decommissioning end state for FFTF and its aboveground, belowground, and ancillary support buildings and structures (within the FFTF PPA), are being evaluated in the ongoing Tank Closure and Waste Management Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Hanford Site, Richland, Washington (DOE/EIS-0391). The final decision for the FFTF (and its support buildings and structures) is planned for inclusion in the final EIS and its Record of Decision, once they are completed and issued.
Also at the 400 Area (outside the FFTF PPA) is a mammoth structure called the Fuels and Materials Examination Facility (FMEF). Although the FMEF was intended to be a support building for the FFTF and the future Liquid Fast-Breeder Reactor Program, the FMEF was never used in any kind of a nuclear capacity. When the nation abandoned the breeder reactor program, FMEF was also left without a mission, and remains unused and largely vacant today.