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Originally published Tuesday, April 17, 2012 at 9:03 PM

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Hanford vault complex that stored weapons plutonium demolished

The plutonium has been gone since 2009, and now contractors have demolished the 20,000-square-foot complex where it was stored

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RICHLAND — What was once one of the most secure complexes in the nation has been reduced to rubble.

The vault complex where plutonium for the nation's nuclear-weapons program was once stored at Hanford's Plutonium Finishing Plant has been demolished, the Department of Energy announced Tuesday.

Built in 1971, the vault complex held the stores of plutonium in metal canisters until they were shipped off the Hanford reservation for weapons production.

Department of Energy contractor CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation finished emptying the vaults of plutonium in 2009, which eased the tight security restrictions at the Plutonium Finishing Plant.

After then removing glove boxes used at the complex, CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation began demolishing the complex late last year. It included six structures covering about 20,000 square feet.

Work continues to prepare the rest of the Plutonium Finishing Plant for demolition by 2016, the legal deadline for the work in the Tri-Party Agreement.

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