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Building 330 at Argonne National Laboratory

Pictured: Argonne National Laboratory Building 330, which housed the 1950s-era Chicago Pile 5 reactor.

In 2009, the Department of Energy (DOE) proposed to demolish Building 330 at Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, the former site of Chicago Pile-5. CP-5 was the fifth and last member of the distinguished family of ​“Chicago Pile” reactors, whose legacy ranges from the earliest efforts to develop nuclear reactors to current research aimed at retiring them safely.

After receiving funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) – a long-time barrier preventing cleanup – the Department of Energy used the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to develop an Environmental Assessment for decontamination, removal of radioactive waste, and demolition of Building 330.

DOE also used the Environmental Assessment to bring together operational and environmental expertise from across multiple federal agencies to develop demolition and transportation approaches that better-protected workers and the public from potential hazards.

For example, the final project mandated that air monitoring be performed at the building site during demolition to ensure that the public would not be exposed to dangerous levels of radionuclides. It also required airborne contamination controls such as filters and barriers, along with personal protective equipment like respirators, to ensure the safety of the demolition workers.

“We had plans in place to demolish the building, but had difficulty finding the money to do it,” he said. ​“The ARRA funds allow us to complete this project ahead of schedule and let us keep more of our operating budget for research,” said Mark Peters, Deputy Laboratory Director for Programs.


[1] “Environmental Assessment: Proposed Demolition of Building 330 at Argonne National Laboratory.” U.S. Department of Energy. August 2009. Available at:

[2] “Argonne awards $10 million contract to veteran-owned small business.” Argonne National Laboratory. December 16, 2009. Available at:


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