Project Management

Lessons from a Successful Nuclear Project

PMI Toronto Chapter

Bruce is the founder of, a resource for growing IT project managers.

Nuclear technology and project management have a long standing relationship. One of the world’s most famous projects – the Manhattan Project – delivered major innovations in physics and nuclear weapons. In recent years, the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan and climate change events have increased interest in safety and environmental matters. All of these concerns are at play with the River Corridor Closure Project, which concludes in 2016.

This multi-billion dollar project was a finalist for the PMI Project of the Year award in 2015. As a large-scale project that dealt with significant hazards and large budgets successfully, there is much to learn from this project.

Project Facts at a Glance

  • Project purpose: The project’s scope included safely demolishing over 300 buildings and over 550 waste sites as well as two nuclear reactors.
  • Project location: The project remediated over a 200-square-mile area in Washington state. Some project sites date back to the 1940s. Poor quality documentation from earlier periods posed challenges for the project team.
  • Project budget: From 2005 to 2016, the project spent $3 billion dollars and came in $300 million dollars under budget.
  • Project Management Professionals: 20 PMPs were involved in the project over its lifecycle.
  • Collaborative approach: Washington Closure Hanford is a company owned by …

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- George Bernard Shaw