IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI) - The Idaho cleanup project marked another major milestone in environmental protection this week.
They removed and shipped out the last of the buried hazardous waste from their Radioactive Waste Management Complex.
The Department of Energy has been storing radioactive materials there since the early 1950s. The radioactive remnants from the Cold War are now being shipped to a disposal site in New Mexico.
“We completed all the targeted ways and removed it and it's packed," Senior Director for Waste Dan Ceoyne said. "Its ready to be shipped or already shipped over there. It's the next step towards closing the ARB facilities”
The project has worked for almost 17 years to remove the radioactive waste.
The Governor and other dignitaries congratulated workers on their successful project on Wednesday.
“I want to give a tip of the hat to the people who started this process," Governor Little said. "The original negotiators, I have Governor Barb, but all the people that have had a role that the two previous contractors, the current contractor that particularly the men and women that were here every day in trying times challenges that safely and efficiently got the job.”
Contractors were able to clear the waste 18 months ahead of schedule.
“I want to thank the workers for all of what they've done," said the DOE Manager of Idaho Cleanup, Connie Flohur. "It's their proficiency, their skill, their ability, their dedication to doing what needed to be done. That got us here. And it's certainly what got us finished early.”
Now they can move on to removing disposal buildings and creating an environmental cap on the land left behind.
"This entire area is slated to be completed. That's my objective by 2028," Flohur said.
Officials say it will take up to 5 million cubic yards of dirt and other materials to restore the natural landscape.
Afterwards, the Idaho National Lab will monitor the site.