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 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-West. Ultimate disposition of the reactors is planned to be one-piece removal after radioactive materials in the cores have decayed to much safer levels, followed by demolition of the reactor buildings themselves. However, much work is required prior to these actions, including:
- Removal of sludge, debris and water from the K-West basin (K-East basin was demolished in 2009)
- Demolition of K-West basin
- Construction of safe-storage enclosures around both reactor buildings (to leave the reactors in place until safer radioactive decay levels are achieved
The K-East Reactor is in an interim surveillance mode. Work is ongoing at the K-West basin to remove the sludge, debris and water.