Hanford’s “sister reactors”, the K-East and the K-West Reactors, were built side-by-side in the early 1950’s. The two reactors went operational within four months of each other as K-West went into service in January of 1955 and K-East started operations in April of that same year. K-West was the seventh reactor built at Hanford; K-East was the eighth.
The two reactors both ran for more than fifteen years before being shut down in 1970 and 1971. Even though the reactors themselves have not operated in more than thirty-five years, there continues to be a lot of activity taking place associated with K-East and K-West. Work is ongoing toward the ultimate goal of cocooning both the K-East and K-West Reactor cores. However, the massive, water-filled basins associated with the reactors during Hanford’s plutonium production mission (the so-called K-Basins), have also been the source of much work to follow(see K-Basins link under the Hanford Projects heading).
Crews hope to have the K-East Reactor cocooned by 2015 with the K-West Reactor to follow after the sludge has been removed.