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Decontamination & Decommissioning

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Cathy Hickey
Business Development Director

Jeff Thompson
Director of Environment, Safety, Health and Quality

If you are a government agency or industrial entity that has declared a facility as surplus, decontamination and decommissioning services are needed to prepare the facility for final disposition—whether that is reuse or demolition. This process requires management of a broad range of hazardous contaminants that can include volatile organics, heavy metals, PCBs, and asbestos, as well as radioactive materials such as transuranics, tritium, and highly active isotopes of iodine, strontium, and cesium, to name a few.

Dealing with hazards such as these requires close interaction with regulators, citizen groups, and other stakeholders to manage the safe disposition of materials within regulatory frameworks and cost and schedule restraints. Management of waste resulting from decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) activities also requires analysis of the benefits of the level of decontamination, size reduction, and packaging versus the criteria and costs of waste acceptance and storage, as well as the requirements for recycling non-contaminated concrete and steel. Much of the worker safety requirements for D&D are focused on radiological and chemical hazards, but these activities also carry industrial safety hazards, the combination of which makes the work very labor intensive.

To manage D&D programs, you need technical expertise, experience dealing with complex regulatory environments, a commitment to safety, and innovative approaches. CH2M HILL has the expertise and experience to manage the largest, most challenging D&D projects in the world. We have safely decommissioned highly contaminated former nuclear weapons facilities, nuclear reactors, and military and industrial buildings and facilities, and we have completed site closures under accelerated schedules and complex cost structures. Successful delivery of these projects stems from a unique regulatory and stakeholder framework to guide decommissioning and restoration activities, innovative contracting, a corporate commitment to safety, and creative technical and environmental strategies.

Our Solutions

CH2M HILL plans its site characterization efforts with a focus on our client's highest objectives. By investigating with the end goals in mind and with attention to potential risks and regulatory drivers, we collect only the data that is necessary. This approach reduces the overall cost of the site characterization effort by not only reducing field and laboratory costs but also by reducing the volume of information needing analysis. By using the latest, applicable investigation methods, we reduce cost and improve the quality of the collected information. Our characterization experience is multimedia in nature and includes extensive experience with a range of contaminants, including chemicals introduced from commercial, government, and agricultural sources to naturally occurring materials and radionuclides.


CH2M HILL has cleaned up some of the most contaminated structures in the world, with contaminants that include asbestos, lead-based paint, hazardous chemicals and organic compounds, and radionuclides. We have developed special methods and techniques for dry decontamination of coated concrete, chemical decontamination for radioactive isotopes, and several techniques such as glovebox foaming and polyuria coating that reduce the need for decontamination in structures to be demolished.


CH2M HILL's approach to demolition planning focuses on the nature of the facility to be removed, the nature of any contaminants, and the end state and waste management criteria to be met to provide the safest, most cost-effective demolition methods. We have demolished numerous types of facilities using methods ranging from pulling or pushing the structure down, to the use of hydraulic rams or wrecking balls, to highly complex implosions.

An example is the "polka-dot" demolition technique used to separate concrete from a highly contaminated building into separate waste streams, which saves both decontamination and waste shipping costs. Another example is harmonic delamination, used to bring down the 5-foot-thick explosion-resistant walls of the Criticality Lab at Rocky Flats. The harmonic delamination technique uses explosives placed in precise locations to send high-velocity detonation waves throughout the structure, separating the concrete from the tightly woven rebar.

Health & Safety

Excellence in health, safety, environmental projection, quality, and sustainability is a core value for CH2M HILL. Our integrated safety management system ensures safety for the public, environment, our workers, and subcontractors. Our project-specific job sequencing and engineered controls incorporate plans and programs for radiation protection, industrial health and safety, nuclear safety, fire protection, construction, transportation, and waste management. Our health, safety, environment, and quality program is adaptable and has been administered over a full spectrum of activities, from nuclear operations to building demolition.

Program Management

Coordinating large diverse projects requires strong capabilities in defining the work, packaging the work for subcontracting, determining the best contractual vehicle to be used, and selecting the best firm to conduct the work activities. CH2M HILL is an industry leader in program management and integration for large nuclear programs as well as in executing specific, end-point defined projects. As program manager, CH2M HILL frequently complements our own resources and capabilities with those of other firms to deliver the most sensible and valuable benefits to the customer. By bringing together the best contractors and coordinating their contributions to program and project activities, CH2M HILL-led teams achieve cost efficiencies and schedule control while our firm conducts ongoing verification of quality. In short, we provide a single point of overall accountability and responsibility to the client and manage the rapidly changing resource requirements and schedule changes encountered during various stages of the work.