Schenectady County

KAPL cleanup likely to restart later this year

Cleanup at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory site is expected to resume this fall, nearly two years

Cleanup at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory site is expected to resume this fall, nearly two years after it stopped because of a series of incidents at the site, including accidental release of radioactive dust.

The project has been on hold as officials investigated what happened and figured out the best ways to prevent them from happening again.

One of the solutions settled upon has been tent enclosures around the facilities being demolished.

In one part of the project, called Building G2, the tent enclosure is in place, with contractors currently installing the ventilation system, according to Bill Taylor, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Energy.

The work connected to the enclosure at Building G2 is expected to finish this summer, Taylor said in an e-mail.

Construction of the enclosure over another part of the project, Building H2, is ongoing and expected to be completed this fall.

That enclosure has taken longer because of changes in the construction approach, Taylor said.

Tropical storms Irene and Lee forced the new approach, as they eroded ground on a hillside next to the work site, where the enclosure was to be built.

The erosion has affected the original plan and forced the contractor, URS Corp., to get approvals for an alternative approach, officials have said.

The cleanup at KAPL’s Separations Process Research Unit is aimed at removing the remaining pieces of the long-dormant site, which ran for less than three years and closed in 1953. The work has been on hold officially since November 2010.

Overall, demolition activities are expected to resume later this fall, after the tent enclosure construction is complete and the ventilation systems are operational, Taylor said.

The applications to construct the ventilation systems were approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

A series of incidents that beset the site included the accidental release of radioactive dust in September 2010 and the release in October 2010 of 630 gallons of dirty water into the Mohawk River.

In both incidents, officials have said, there was no risk to workers or the public, but they were still of concern to the federal energy officials.

A new subcontractor was brought in to take several key jobs at the site in the wake of the 2010 incidents.

The Department of Energy and URS agreed to greater safeguards at the site. These include the enclosures around the demolition to capture any dust.

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