Separations Process Research Unit | Niskayuna, New York
United States Department of Energy
EM News Flash | July 18, 2016

EM Begins Demolition of Building G2 at Separations Process Research Unit

NISKAYUNA, N.Y.  EM’s cleanup contractor at the Separations Process Research Unit (SPRU) nuclear facility completed preparations allowing for the open-air demolition of Building G2, which has begun.

   G2 is one of two SPRU buildings that supported improvements in the chemical separation of plutonium for the nation’s strategic defense early in the Cold War. Its demolition culminates several years of preparatory work by the site’s contractor, URS Energy & Construction, a subsidiary of AECOM.

   The deactivation of Building G2 included removing hazardous and radioactive materials; isolating utility systems; removing vessels and components, and miles of piping and tubing. That work was performed in a tent enclosure with filtered ventilation to ensure protection of workers, the public and the environment.

   Successful completion of these efforts led to a determination by EM that the remaining structure can now be safely demolished. 

   "The EM SPRU Field Office staff and our URS contractor worked together closely to safely and successfully arrive at this major project milestone,” said Steven Feinberg, SPRU's federal project director.

   According to Jeff Selvey, AECOM-SPRU disposition project manager, “Our team’s hard work is the beginning of the end for these Cold War-era nuclear processing facilities. It’s an achievement that relied on the sustained support of our EM counterparts.”

   EM is responsible for the decontamination, demolition and cleanup of SPRU, a 65-year-old Cold War facility. A pilot plant used for researching the separation of plutonium from irradiated uranium, SPRU operated between February 1950 and October 1953. It is collocated with Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, which is part of the network of DOE's national laboratories.

   Click here for more information on the SPRU project or contact Stephan Tetreault with the EM headquarters communications office at 202-287-5573 or at

EM News Flash | Dec. 8, 2015

EM Celebrates Milestone with Removal of Last Waste Tank at Separations Process Research Unit 

The last of seven tanks in the tank vault at the Separations Process Research Unit is hoisted for placement in a made-to-order shipping container.


NISKAYUNA, N.Y. EM recently marked a notable milestone at the Separations Process Research Unit (SPRU) when workers removed the last of seven large waste storage tanks from a vault and shipped it to an offsite low-level radioactive waste disposal facility.
   The tanks were used to contain radioactive wastes from SPRU in the 1950s. They had sat empty after their contents were disposed off-site in the 1960s.
   The recent achievement culminated months of preparation, including expert rigging to remove the tanks from the vault, where they had been housed for the past 60 years.
   “This is a major milestone in the cleanup of the SPRU project. Our employees deserve great credit in completing this work safely, which sets the stage for project completion,” said Bob Smith, project manager for AECOM, which owns URS, EM’s contractor for the SPRU cleanup.
   EM is responsible for the decontamination, demolition, and cleanup of SPRU, a 65-year-old Cold War facility. A pilot plant used for researching the separation of plutonium from irradiated uranium, SPRU operated between February 1950 and October 1953. It is collocated with Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, which is part of the network of DOE's national laboratories.


Workers prepare the last of seven waste storage tanks from a tank vault for shipment to an offsite disposal facility. The tank is prepared for transport to the disposal facility.



The closed shipping container holding the tank is ready for shipment to the out-of-state disposal facility.

EM Marks Milestone At
Separations Process Research Unit

The Separations Process Research Unit (SPRU) is an inactive facility located at the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (KAPL) in Niskayuna, New York. KAPL was created as a general-purpose laboratory for the former U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (a predecessor agency to DOE). Built in the late 1940s, the buildings supported the SPRU mission to research the chemical process to extract plutonium from irradiated materials. Although equipment was flushed and drained, and bulk waste was removed following the shutdown of the facilities in 1953, residual materials were left in the tanks, buildings H2 and G2, and interconnecting pipe tunnels. In 2010, cleanup of radioactivity and chemical contamination in the SPRU Lower Level Railroad Staging Area, Lower Level Parking Lot and SPRU North Field areas was completed. The KAPL site presently conducts research and provides support for the U.S. Navy's Nuclear Propulsion Program.

Currently, decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) of the following is taking place: the remaining two contaminated buildings (G2 and H2 buildings), remaining inactive waste storage tanks located within H2 tank vaults, a pipe tunnel between G2 and H2, and associated contaminated soil. By March, 2013, tent enclosures and ventilation systems using High Efficiency Particulate Air filters were constructed around the G2 and the H2 buildings. Performing D&D work within the enclosures with the ventilation systems provides an added measure of protection to human health and the environment. DOE's contractor is taking a methodical, deliberate approach in completing the remaining work. The contractor estimates field work completion in late 2016.

Research Unit (SPRU) Disposition Project
Removes High-Risk Radioactive Waste, Reaches Safety Milestone

Niskayuna NY (February 27, 2014) - The Separations Process Research Unit (SPRU) Disposition Project completed a significant waste-treatment campaign today that involved the solidification of approximately 9,700 gallons of contaminated sludge, and 14 shipments of the waste off-site for permanent disposal.  The shipment of this material removed the majority of the radioactivity at the SPRU facilities. The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) is responsible for the decontamination, demolition, and cleanup of the 65-year-old Cold War facility, with work being performed under contract with DOE by the URS Corporation.  SPRU is collocated with DOE’s Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory in Niskayuna, NY.

"The radioactive sludge constituted one of the highest risks at SPRU," said Steven Feinberg, the EM manager of the project.  "The successful solidification of the sludge marks major progress in our environmental cleanup project, and enables us to put our full attention on moving ahead with the active decontamination and demolition of unused buildings at the site."

The sludge resulted from historic research into the chemical separation of plutonium, which was shut down in the early 1950s.  The solidified sludge, in 28 shielded liners, is being disposed at a licensed, commercial low-level radioactive waste disposal facility in Andrews, TX, which is owned and operated by Waste Control Specialists, LLC.

In addition to successfully completing the sludge solidification project, the SPRU Disposition Project achieved more than 2 ¾ years and more than 1.1 million safe work hours without a lost-time accident or injury.  "This record was accomplished while overcoming numerous obstacles associated with the high-hazard construction, decontamination and demolition work at the site," noted Bobby Smith, Project Manager for URS at SPRU.  "That included working at heights to construct the Sludge Processing Tent, install ventilation and sludge system components, decommission the old sludge processing system, and safely operate the waste solidification system."

ARRA Icon On March 31, 2009 Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced $6 billion in new funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to accelerate environmental cleanup work and create thousands of jobs across 12 states. Projects identified for funding will focus on accelerating cleanup of soil and groundwater, transportation and disposal of waste, and cleaning and demolishing former weapons complex facilities.

Please visit the following web sites for additional information on the Office of Environmental Managementís projects and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act:


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