U Canyon—a huge, windowless concrete monolith that housed secret Cold War-era plutonium and uranium processing work at the U.S. Energy Dept.'s Hanford site, the former nuclear-weapons production facility in eastern Washington—has sat empty and inert for more than four decades. Now, however, the cavernous structure will become a beehive of activity as a technology test site, featuring a first-time DOE process in which 20,000 cu yd of specially formulated, cement-like grout is pumped beneath the edifice to stabilize its radioactivity before final demolition. U.S. Dept. of Energy Crews are filling underground cells with grout at the former nuclear weapons plant
The market is generally healthy and steadily growing, and margins are up for large specialty contractors. Further, advances in design tools and owner demand for collaboration are giving subcontractors a seat at the table early on in projects.