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Projects & Facilities

B Plant

Aerial of the B Plant circa 2021
Aerial of the B Plant circa 2021.
One of Hanford’s earliest plutonium processing facilities was B Plant, located in the 200 East Area. B Plant operated from 1945 through 1957, when it was initially shut down.
Fuel rods that had been irradiated in the nuclear reactors were taken to B Plant, where the rods went through a series of chemical baths to remove plutonium from them. Because chemicals were needed to separate the plutonium from the rods, facilities like B Plant were also called chemical separations plants or "canyons," due to their shape and size. Once the plutonium had been removed from the fuel rods it was further processed to be used in America’s stockpile of atomic weapons. All the chemicals needed to extract the plutonium, as well as the excess parts of the irradiated fuel rods, became waste.
Eleven years after the plant was shut down, it was modified and restarted. Its new mission was to separate the radioactive elements cesium and strontium from the tank waste that was generated when the plutonium was extracted from the irradiated fuel rods. The cesium and strontium campaign ended in 1985 and the plant was deactivated in 1998.
The cesium and strontium that was removed is now stored in more than 1,900 capsules located in a facility adjacent to B Plant called the Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility. The facility was built specifically to house these highly radioactive capsules, which are safely stored in a water-filled basin.
Last Updated 10/26/2023 8:32 AM