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D&D Industry News Archives

View archived deactivation and decommissioning news items.

£3 million Dragon’s Den style competition shortlists ideas to clean up old nuclear plants

August 10, 2017
​15 ideas have been shortlisted in a £3 million competition to find new ways of cleaning up one of the UK’s largest nuclear hazards.​

The shortlisted entries, many of which come from companies that have never worked in the nuclear industry before, now have around 3 months to develop their ideas for a chance to move on to the next stage. They’ll start fleshing out their concepts on how to safely dismantle a large number of highly radioactive rooms or ‘cells’ at Europe’s most complex nuclear site, Sellafield in Cumbria.

Cutting edge technologies such as artificial intelligence, virtual reality, robots, drones and lasers are being proposed as ways of cleaning up Sellafield in Cumbria - Europe’s most complex nuclear site.

Melanie Brownridge, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority’s (NDA) Head of Technology, said:
This competition is an amazing opportunity for creative, forward-thinking and innovative companies to collaborate and come up with cutting-edge solutions for cleaning up some of the UK’s most complex nuclear sites.

The competition, which is being run by the NDA, and the UK government’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, is awarding an initial £750,000 to a shortlist of 15 newly formed consortia to help them develop their ideas. Full details remain under commercial wraps but more will be revealed when the winners are picked at the end of the year and begin to build prototypes, supported by the remaining funds.

Read the full article at:

Two ASTM International Standard Specifications on fixative technologies formally published

August 04, 2017

Dear D&D Community,

On July 24, 2017, ASTM International’s E10 Committee on Nuclear Technology and Applications published two new international standard specifications for fixative technologies that aim to immobilize radioactive contamination, minimize worker exposure, and protect uncontaminated areas against the spread of radioactive contamination during the decommissioning of nuclear facilities.


The first specification (E 3104-17, Specification for Strippable & Removable Coatings to Mitigate Spread of Radioactive Contamination) establishes performance specifications for a coating that is intended to be removable during subsequent decontamination operations. The second specification (E 3105-17, Specification for Permanent Coatings Used to Mitigate Spread of Radioactive Contamination) is for coatings that are intended to be permanent, non-removable, long-term material for fixing contamination in place during decommissioning.


The E10 Committee, through the E10.03 Subcommittee on Radiological Protection for Decontamination and Decommissioning of Nuclear Facilities and Components, has moved forward with creating consensus based standards for D&D technologies that are not only aligned with technical specifications, but also account for the safety, regulatory, and operational requirements encountered during D&D activities. The intent is to promulgate relevant, uniform testing protocols that can be leveraged across the nuclear environmental management community, and support decision makers and end users with common references in the selection and employment of those standards and associated technologies.


The E10 Committee and its associated Subcommittees is comprised of approximately 130 international members from government, research laboratories, academia, and the private sector, and employs a collaborative process that bridges organizational boundaries and cultures to achieve consensus on industry standards for uniform testing and evaluation of technologies and processes. As this effort expands, the ASTM International E10.03 Subcommittee will be pursuing further testing protocol and standards development for not only fixatives, but other technology categories associated with D&D as well, and highly encourages other interested members from the international D&D community to join.

Joseph Sinicrope at ASTM International Subcommittee meeting.JPG

 Updates on this process will be provided via the D&D Knowledge Management Information Tool (D&D KM-IT), a community-driven website available athttps://www.dndkm.org


Joseph Sinicrope

Research Scientist, D&D Technology Development, Testing, and Evaluation in support of DOE Environmental Management Cooperative Agreement

Chairman, ASTM International E10.03 Subcommittee on Radiological Protection for Decontamination and Decommissioning of Nuclear Facilities and Components

Applied Research Center

Florida International University

10555 W. Flagler St

Miami, FL

305.348.0084 (work)

Project Management Lessons Learned (Environmental Management)

July 17, 2017

Check out the new project management lessons learned on the D&D Knowledge Management Information Tool (D&D KM-IT). The Department of Energy, Office of Environmental Management (EM), 


Office of Project Assessment distributes “EM Project Management Lessons Learned”  to highlight specific lessons learned applicable to many projects and to solicit future lessons learned from project teams willing to share their experiences. These documents have now been added to D&D KM-IT for easy access.

German government takes over interim waste storage

June 29, 2017

​The German government has reached an agreement with GNS Gesellschaft für Nuklear-Service mbH on transferring GNS's interim storage activities. Under legislation that came into force last December, the government assumed responsibility for the intermediate storage and final disposal of the country's radioactive waste.

In March, the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) and GNS established the Bundes Gesellschaft für Zwischenlagern (BGZ) joint venture for this purpose. GNS itself is a joint venture set up in 1974 by German utilities for the management of used fuel and nuclear waste from German power reactors.

GNS announced yesterday it has now reached an agreement with BMUB for the transfer of its share in BGZ. As from 1 August this year, the federal government will become the sole owner of BGZ.

As part of the agreement, GNS will transfer its interim storage activities to the government, including the existing central interim storage facilities in Ahaus and Gorleben. Some 80 GNS employees at both sites will be transferred to BGZ, while around 70 GNS employees at its headquarters in Essen will become responsible for the administration of BGZ.

The management of 12 on-site interim storage facilities at German nuclear power plants will also be transferred to the federal government starting in 2019, GNS said.

GNS chairman Hannes Wimmer said, "We are pleased that our interim storage organisation, which has been tried and tested for more than two decades, is the seed of the new federal interim storages company. This means not only the preservation of all existing GNS jobs involved in temporary storage, but also ensures our comprehensive competence for the continued operation and organisation of all German interim storage facilities with radioactive waste from German nuclear power plants."

PreussenElektra GmbH chairman Guido Knott, also chairman of GNS's supervisory board, said: "By transferring the interim storage activities of GNS and, subsequently, the on-site interim storage facilities to the government, German energy suppliers are making an important contribution to the reorganisation of the responsibility for radioactive waste disposal." He added, "With the other core competences of GNS - ranging from container development and fabrication to disposal services - the new GNS, government and operators will continue to be committed and highly professional."

Following the Fukushima accident in March 2011, the government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel announced the withdrawal of the operating licences of eight German nuclear power plants and revived plans to phase out nuclear power by 2022.

In October 2016, the German cabinet adopted a draft bill on financing the decommissioning of the country's nuclear power plants and management of its radioactive waste. The bill came into force in December. Under the draft, the reactor owners involved - EnBW, EOn, RWE and Vattenfall - must pay some €23.6 billion ($25.7 billion) into a state-owned fund for decommissioning of the plants and managing radioactive waste. The amount includes a 35.5% risk premium which exempts them from having to make any additional contributions to the fund.

Read the full article at:


Tunnel Breach At DOE Hanford Site Releases No Radioactivity

June 29, 2017
​An emergency was declared yesterday, Tuesday, at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation in Eastern Washington State after the roof of an old abandoned tunnel, built in 1956, collapsed. The tunnel had been used to store radiologically-contaminated equipment and materials used in the Cold War from 1956 to 1988.​
Figure Caption: The Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant (PUREX plant) at DOE’s Hanford Site in Washington State, where a collapse in Tunnel 1 triggered an emergency response. No contamination was released so far, and none is likely.
An aerial survey mid-morning on Tuesday showed an opening about 20 feet by 20 feet into the tunnel. Technically, the breach of the tunnel could expose some of the radioactive material in the tunnel to the atmosphere.
However, no contamination was released so far, and none is likely. No workers were injured and everyone has been accounted for. Radiological surveys are continuing.
On the other hand, the tunnel collapse triggered an emergency response on site and in the nearby community, as it’s supposed to do.
DOE Secretary Perry said the Department of Energy is closely following the situation. DOE quickly notified Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, who also got a call from the White House.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) said she sent her “deepest appreciation to the first responders who are on the scene and all those who are working very hard to figure out the situation on the ground.”
In fact, the incident made for an excellent spur-of-the-moment safety drill for the entire region, both on the Hanford Site itself, as well as in the nearby towns. Everything seems to have gone as planned, and everyone should get an A+.
As discussed in the excellent reporting by the local newspaper, the Tri-City Herald, the Hanford Emergency Center was activated at 8:26 AM and the Hanford Fire Department was quickly on scene. Radiological surveys began immediately.

Read the full article at:


June 29, 2017

PIKETON, Ohio – The Department of Energy Portsmouth Site and cleanup contractor Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth (FBP) recently finished deactivating the first floor unit of the X-326 Gaseous Diffusion Process Building, a milestone in preparing the cell for demolition.

“The levels of skill and effort being invested in this project are showing positive returns as we reach this milestone safely and on schedule,” said Robert Edwards, manager of EM’s Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office (PPPO).

"Our goal is to keep this momentum while getting the remainder of X-326 ready for demolition and further advancing the deactivation of the next process building, the X-333.”

Deactivating a facility involves removing hazardous and radioactive materials, verifying that criticality is not possible, and de-energizing and disconnecting nonessential systems. Deactivation of cell floor unit 25-6 came after five and a half years of work that included improvements to the nondestructive assay (NDA) program. NDA measures the quantities of uranium in pipes and equipment.

“Previously, we were doing quantitative NDA measurements, which isn’t necessary in all cases,” said Jeff Stevens, FBP’s deputy project manager.

“By using a systematic approach that focuses on scanning for ‘hot spots,’ NDA can finish its work faster, which allows us to move forward sooner.”

Covering more than 30 acres, the two-story X-326 is one of three massive Portsmouth buildings used for uranium enrichment for national defense beginning in 1954 and later for nuclear energy purposes until 2001. A unit in the building contains 20 cells, each of which includes 12 stages containing motors, compressors, converters and coolers.

FBP Process Building Deputy Director James Miller said the team surgically removed components and equipment from unit 25-6. 

“Significant efforts during pre-job planning and excellent coordination among the multidisciplinary team ensured timeliness and superior safety performance,” Miller said.

Focus shifted to characterizing the building’s remaining bypass and auxiliary equipment after workers safely finished removing more than 7,000 components of process gas equipment in 2016.

PPPO Portsmouth Site Lead Joel Bradburne said EM is balancing resources between X-326 and X-333 while sequencing deactivation, demolition and waste disposal.

“By sharing resources that would otherwise be in standby, crews can keep working on schedule and under budget,” Bradburne said. “We’re gaining momentum on our deactivation work, and that means we’re gaining momentum on the overall D&D project.”

Read the full article at:


Hanford layoffs limited after workers find other positions

June 29, 2017

CH2M Hill Plateau Remediation Co. had no forced layoffs in the first of three rounds of job cuts.

The Hanford nuclear reservation contractor announced in March that it needed to cut as many as 250 jobs in three rounds of layoffs starting in May.

Work could be completed this year on two of CH2M’s Hanford projects, demolition of the Plutonium Finishing Plant and cleanup of the 618-10 Burial Ground.


CH2M was able to find positions for 90 workers on those projects elsewhere at CH2M in advance of layoffs set for the end of last week.

Another seven workers applied for voluntary layoffs and were approved.

In addition, five union workers lost their CH2M positions, but took the jobs of union workers with less seniority with other Hanford contractors in what Hanford calls a “bump and roll.” Those five workers could have been laid off if other positions were not available.

CH2M could lay off up to about 150 workers yet in the next two rounds of job cuts, which are set for the end of July and in September.

Hanford contractor Mission Support Alliance, which provides sitewide services, also announced plans in March to cut up to 50 positions, but did not expect to take action before July.

Read the full article at:


Robot revolution in a nuclear world

June 29, 2017

People may not realize the important role robots play in helping us to clean-up our nuclear sites.

The image people have in mind when they think about robots is very different from the reality of the cutting-edge remote technology being used on our sites.

Many of the clean-up decommissioning challenges we face at our sites often involve working in hazardous environments. With our main aim to keep our people safe, remote technology really comes into its own. It can also be instrumental in helping us achieve our mission sooner.


Investing in solutions

The NDA invests around £85 million each year into technology and innovation to help find solutions to the decommissioning challenges and ultimately clean up 17 of the UK’s earliest nuclear sites sooner and cheaper. Use of new technology can mean safer sites and better value for money to the UK taxpayer.

A fantastic example of where the benefits of robotics are being reaped, is at Sellafield. The site, in west Cumbria, is Europe’s largest and most complex nuclear site, dating back to the 1940s. The site, like our 16 other sites, is being cleaned-up and decommissioned. Remote technology is helping to cut up old materials like vessels, support structures, flasks and pipework in areas that are hard or too dangerous to get into.

The LaserSnake2 technology successfully deployed at Sellafield last year was a world first in combining laser cutting and snake-arm robotics to cut up radioactive vessels.

The project was collaboratively funded by Innovate UK and the NDA and is a great example of specialist organizations and the wider supply chain helping us to develop the technology we need.  By 2020 we hope to see 30 per cent of our spend with the supply chain going to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs).

Organizations wanting to find out how they can win business in the nuclear decommissioning sector should register to come along to our Supply Chain Event, on November 2 – the largest of its kind in Europe and aimed at suppliers of all sizes. In particular, we're looking forward to the showcase of the latest gizmos, gadgets and technologies in the innovation zone at this event that focuses on the challenge of nuclear decommissioning.

Winning opportunities

Building on the success of projects such as Lasersnake2, together with Sellafield Ltd and Innovate UK, we've had an excellent response to our recent innovation competition. Over 200 organizations, with various new approaches - some including the use of robotics, responded to the opportunity to apply for a share in £3.5 million to help solve our nuclear decommissioning challenges.

The window for applications closed in April this year. I’m delighted to say that NDA and Innovate UK will be able to support more proposals, due to the high quality of the submissions. We'll be ensuring these are aligned and link to the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund which is also focusing on robotics.

I can’t wait to see how these projects develop and help drive forward the progress being made in nuclear decommissioning through innovative technology.

Read the full article at:​


Roof failure was at a one-of-a-kind Hanford tunnel system

June 27, 2017

​The tunnel found Tuesday with a partially collapsed roof was unusual even for Hanford.

The nuclear reservation near Richland produced plutonium for the nation’s nuclear weapons program from World War II through the Cold War by irradiating uranium fuel and then using huge chemical processing plants to extract the plutonium.

PUREX was the last of five processing plants built. They were sometimes called canyons because they were long and narrow buildings with high ceilings.

Irradiated uranium was brought to the massive PUREX plant by rail, but the railroad tracks also had a second use.

A 500-foot-long extension of the rail line was built to access a novel disposal system for large pieces of highly radioactive equipment.

Two tunnels were built to store the waste.

A remotely controlled electric engine pushed railroad cars loaded with highly contaminated items from the plant into the tunnels, according to a Hanford risk review prepared in 2015 by the Consortium for Risk Evaluation and Stakeholder Participation, or CRESP.

Purex-cutaway (2).jpg 
 The tunnel where the breach was discovered Tuesday is the oldest of the two.

It is 360 feet long and was built using primarily creosoted timbers arranged side by side. The Department of Energy said concrete also was used.
Then it was covered with about eight feet of soil. It’s 22 feet high and 19 feet wide, according to Heart of America Northwest, a Seattle-based Hanford watchdog group.
Between June 1960 and January 1965, eight rail cars loaded with radioactive waste were pushed into the tunnel.
A second, stronger waste tunnel was built in 1964 with internal steel I-beams attached to reinforced concrete arches. It has a steel liner.
The second tunnel is 1,700 feet long and holds 28 rail cars of equipment, although it was built for 40.
The last rail car apparently was pushed inside in the early 1990s.
Between 1995 and 1997, water-filled doors of both tunnels and the outer PUREX railroad tunnel door were sealed, according to the CRESP report. Water can serve as a shield against radiation.
Last year a new legal deadline was set, requiring DOE to decide what process it would use to assess the integrity of the tunnels by September of this year.
The cleanup of the tunnels is part of central Hanford work that is required to be finished by 2042.
Those deadlines were among Tri-Party Agreement deadlines for central Hanford revised in 2016, as work had fallen behind schedule there because efforts and budget were focused on cleaning up contamination nearer the Columbia River.

Read the full article at:


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