The REDOX plant at Hanford was the fourth processing “canyon” constructed and was the last one built in the 200-West Area. It looked different than its earlier models. It wasn’t as long (470 feet) as its predecessors, but it was wider at 160 feet. In comparison to earlier processing canyons like T and B Plants, REDOX produced much less waste in its processing of irradiated fuel rods than earlier models. It was in operation from 1952 through 1967, and processed approximately 24,000 tons of uranium fuel rods. The operations at REDOX consolidated plutonium processing programs into one building and process, which had previously required multiple facilities and processes.
The Reduction-Oxidation Plant had its strengths and weaknesses during the production mission. REDOX was able to recover both the plutonium for weapons and the uranium from the fuel rods during processing where earlier models could not. The recycled uranium could be used again to make more fuel rods. Where T and B Plants could process only between 1 and 1.5 tons of uranium each day, REDOX could process up to 12 tons per day. The down side surrounded the liquid waste generated by REDOX. It was far less in volume than what was produced at T and B Plants, but the liquid waste from Reduction-Oxidation contained many more chemicals than earlier waste types and it was significantly hotter when it went into the tank farms. Additionally, the process to extract plutonium from fuel rods at the Reduction-Oxidation Plant required a material called hexone to be used and hexone is potentially explosive.
REDOX has been shut down for more than forty years, but remains highly contaminated. It is anticipated that the canyon will be brought down to deck level like U-Plant when decontamination and demolition work moves to the Central Plateau area of Hanford. However, the ultimate decision surrounding REDOX’s final state will be made in the CERCLA Record of Decision (ROD).