Skip to main content
Hanford.Gov
Projects & Facilities

Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant (PUREX)

The Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant was the fifth and final chemical processing facility built at Hanford.
The Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant operated from 1956 to 1972 and 1983 to 1988, to chemically reprocess fuel rods irradiated in Hanford’s reactors. The photo is from April 2022.

The Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant (PUREX) was the fifth and final chemical processing facility built at Hanford. The plant operated from 1956 to 1972 and 1983 to 1988, to chemically process uranium fuel rods irradiated in Hanford’s reactors.

The facility is located near the center of the Hanford Site in an area known as the Central Plateau. The plant is approximately 1,000 feet long, 104 feet high (with approximately 40 feet below ground), and 62 feet wide. The main portion of the facility — called the “canyon” — is approximately 860 feet long and contains 11 separate areas, or “cells,” designed to manage each step in the chemical process.

For more information, please see the PUREX Fact Sheet and PUREX Tunnels Fact Sheet.

On May 9, 2017, workers noticed a partial collapse of PUREX Tunnel 1 and immediately began emergency stabilization efforts.On May 9, 2017, workers noticed a partial collapse of Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant Tunnel 1 and immediately began emergency stabilization efforts.

 

On Oct. 1, 2017, workers began placing engineered grout inside PUREX Tunnel 1 to stabilize the partially collapsed tunnel.On Oct. 1, 2017, workers began placing engineered grout inside Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant Tunnel 1 to stabilize the partially collapsed tunnel.

 

By May 2019, workers placed about 4,000 truckloads or nearly 40,000 cubic yards of grout into PUREX Tunnel 2.By May 2019, workers had placed about 4,000 truckloads or nearly 40,000 cubic yards of grout into Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant Tunnel 2.

 

 

Last Updated 02/12/2024 2:06 PM