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D&D Industry News

Keep up with deactivation and decommissioning industry news and current events.

Last Major ETTP Facility Ready for Demolition at Oak Ridge

June 30, 2020

Crews have completed deactivation inside the 42,000-square-foot K-1600 facility. Teardown is scheduled to begin this summer. It will mark the final demolition project for the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management and its cleanup contractor UCOR to achieve Vision 2020.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Workers have completed deactivating Building K-1600, a former test and demonstration facility for uranium enrichment centrifuges at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), and now it is ready for demolition.

“This is an incredibly significant project for us and our contractor UCOR because it paves the way for the final demolition at ETTP and positions us to accomplish our ambitious Vision 2020 goal,” said Jay Mullis, manager of the Oak Ridge Office of EM.
Among EM’s 2020 prioritiesVision 2020 is the cleanup program’s goal to complete all demolitions and major cleanup at ETTP by the end of 2020. It will mark the first time in the world an enrichment complex is cleaned and removed.
The 42,000-square-foot K-1600 facility was transferred to Oak Ridge cleanup contractor UCOR in September 2019 to complete deactivation and demolition. Centrus Energy Corp. had leased Building K-1600 since 2002 and finished decommissioning activities prior to the transfer. The company no longer needed the lease after consolidating its centrifuge testing and demonstration activities into a location in Oak Ridge.
Building K-1600 is a recognizable facility at ETTP due to its height and location. It sits in the center of the footprint for the former mile-long, U-shaped K-25 Building. K-25 was one of the site’s five massive gaseous diffusion buildings that once held the title of the world’s largest building.
Deactivation of K-1600 included rendering the building “cold and dark,” which means disconnecting utilities to the structure and installing temporary utilities, such as electrical power. It also included asbestos abatement and waste removal.
Demolition is scheduled to begin this summer.
To date, Oak Ridge’s EM program has taken down facilities spanning nearly 13 million square feet, transferred more than 1,200 acres of land for economic development, and placed more than 3,000 acres in a conservation easement for community recreational use.
Additionally, more than 100 acres will be used for historic preservation efforts at ETTP. Since the K-25 footprint is part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, the demolition of Building K-1600 will increase accessibility and remove risks in the area for future use.

-Contributor: Wayne McKinney

Oak Ridge Workers Successfully Bring Down ETTP’s Tallest Building

June 30, 2020

Crews use large winches to tear down a 180-foot tower of the Centrifuge Complex at Oak Ridge.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Workers accomplished a major feat during one of the largest and final demolition projects at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) last week. They used powerful mechanical devices known as winches to pull over the 180-foot tower portion of the Centrifuge Complex. Click here to view a video of this project.

The task was part of a larger effort to take down the Centrifuge Complex — a series of structures originally built to develop, test, and demonstrate the capability of centrifuge technology for uranium enrichment. The last of these facilities ceased operation in the mid-1980s.

The Centrifuge Complex is one of the final major demolition projects remaining at ETTP as the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) and its cleanup contractor UCOR strive toward one of EM’s 2020 priorities known as Vision 2020 — the goal to complete demolition and major cleanup at ETTP by the end of the year.

“With a constant focus on safety, our workforce has done an exemplary job throughout this project and especially with the challenge of the tower,” said Ken Rueter, UCOR president and CEO. “As one of the final major facilities to be demolished at ETTP, this project is taking us a big leap forward to achieving ETTP cleanup — a historic, first-ever complete cleanup of a uranium enrichment complex.”

A view of the last remaining portions of Oak Ridge’s once sprawling Centrifuge Complex are shown here before crews pulled down the 180-foot tower, at left. Workers will now focus on removing the debris and finalizing demolition on the K-1210 complex, at right. The entire project is scheduled for completion later this summer.

Workers used powerful winches to pull down the steel beams of the 180-foot tower of Building K-1220 at Oak Ridge.

​The tallest structure at ETTP, the Centrifuge Complex spanned 235,000 square feet and reached 180 feet in height in some locations. The challenge involved identifying the best way to take the tower down safely when conventional demolition equipment is intended for structures only measuring approximately 100 feet in height.

Engineers from OREM and UCOR evaluated a variety of methods to demolish the tower based on safety, complexity, risk, and equipment availability. The alternatives included winches, bulldozers, explosives, and a high-reach processor to cripple the tower.

They determined winches met all of the qualifications and were the best choice. While the approach was a success, it involved a great deal of preparation, including specialized training to operate the giant winches capable of pulling down massive steel beams.

The Centrifuge Complex was comprised of four sections. Crews are in the final phases of taking down the last two sections of the complex. Those include the K-1210 Complex, which served as a pilot plant for testing feed, withdrawal, and depleted uranium hexafluoride transfer systems, and the K-1220 Complex, which was used primarily to test production centrifuges, and contained the 180-foot tower.

With the tower down, workers will now focus on removing the debris and finalizing demolition on the K-1210 complex. The entire project is scheduled for completion later this summer.

Workers already brought down the K-1004-J laboratory section, an original Manhattan Project facility built for research and development. They also finished tearing down the fourth section, the K-1200 facility, known as the Advanced Machine Development Laboratory and Component Preparation Laboratory.

-Contributor: Wayne McKinney

Source: EM Update | Vol. 12, Issue 14 | June 23, 2020​​

West Valley Prepares for Future D&D Under New Safety Protocols

June 30, 2020

Workers install a new hoist in the Main Plant Process Building to be used for moving waste boxes and drums and other work when the West Valley Demonstration Project returns to full operations.​

WEST VALLEY, N.Y. – An EM facility disposition crew recently replaced a hoist in the Main Plant Process Building, marking the West Valley Demonstration Project’s (WVDP) first work activity in which workers donned personal protective equipment while following safety protocols due to COVID-19.

Replacing the hoist in the Equipment Decontamination Room, as WVDP operated in an essential mission-critical posture, also signified progress toward a broader project — the future demolition of the Main Plant Process Building — included in EM’s priorities for 2020.

The new equipment will be used to shift an aerial lift into a chemical process cell and move boxes and drums filled with waste when the site returns to full operations and crews resume deactivation work inside a former reprocessing cell in the building.

Before replacing the hoist, employees discussed questions and concerns with supervisors and senior staff in a collaborative, inclusive manner. The discussions focused on how to maintain social distancing while helping one another don and doff personal protective equipment, including respirators.

The team agreed to a safe approach in which employees maintain six feet of distance when possible and wear face masks. Only one worker at a time is allowed to exit an area to avoid clustering, and they must cover the respirator exhalation ports with towels to reduce exhaled vapor droplets from escaping while the workers help each other put on equipment, among other things.

EM WVDP Safety and Site Programs Team Leader Jennifer Dundas commended the team members for their pre-job briefing and work.

“Encouraging employees to speak freely when confronting an issue or challenge is the best way to solve a problem,” Dundas said. “It fosters the sharing of ideas and allows everyone an opportunity to be part of the solution. In the end, their agreed-upon solution helped them to safely complete this work activity.”

Lessons learned from the project will be applied to future cleanup work at the site. The lessons include the importance of refocusing on safety, being aware of changing conditions and new protocols, and getting reacquainted with procedures, work packages, and radiation work permits.

-Contributor: Joseph Pillittere

Source: EM Update | Vol. 12, Issue 14 | June 23, 2020​

Canadian technology offers Fukushima tritium option

November 06, 2019

The Canadian company's Advanced Water Distillation (AWD) technology was initially developed for pressurised heavy water reactors. A test plant in Oakville, Ontario that has been in operation for a year has shown the detritiation of light water using AWD to be five times as efficient as that of heavy water, the company said. A multi-column demonstration plant is to be built in 2020.

Tritium is a heavy radioactive isotope of hydrogen that can replace ordinary hydrogen in light water or deuterium in heavy water, and occurs both naturally and in small amounts during the operation of nuclear power plants. Tritiated water molecules cannot be separated from light or heavy water by conventional filtration since all water molecules behave very similarly.

Water containing very low levels of tritium and other radioactive substances is normally released from nuclear power plants under tightly controlled and monitored conditions. Pressurised heavy water reactors - Candus - produce significantly more tritium than most other types of reactors owing to the use of heavy water (deuterium) in the moderator and heat transport system. Facilities to remove tritium from heavy water from Candu reactors currently operate at Darlington in Canada and Wolsong in South Korea.

Laker says its AWD technology exploits the latest advances in water distillation equipment design and configuration, and in testing has already achieved a five-fold equipment height reduction and 80% energy consumption reduction over conventional water distillation. The process operates under benign conditions of purified warm water under vacuum, which eliminates the possibility of chronic leakage and associated environmental emissions, it says.

Continue reading at https://www.world-nuclear-news.org/Articles/Canadian-technology-offers-Fukushima-tritium-optio​

Significant milestone for world-first underground repository

November 06, 2019


Posiva – the Finnish waste management company, has laid the foundation stone for the used fuel encapsulation plant Onkalo, at Olkiluoto, with construction scheduled for completion in 2022.

Construction of the world’s first permanent underground nuclear storage facility (costing an estimated EUR500 million (US$550 million) began in 2016 and once complete, it will store up to 6,500 tons of waste. Operation of the repository is expected to begin in 2023.

Used fuel will be packed inside copper-steel canisters at the above-ground encapsulation plant, then transferred into the underground repository, located at a depth of 400-450 meters.

“Teollisuuden Voima Oyj (a joint owner of Posiva) has been working and doing research on the final disposal of nuclear fuel since the late 1970s,” Posiva Communications Manager Pasi Tuohimaa told Nuclear Energy Insider.

“The used fuel needs to be cooled down in temporary storage for at least 40 years, so the first moment to start final disposal is now.

“Posiva was established in 1995, when the Finnish law changed so no used nuclear fuel is allowed to be brought in to Finland or taken out. The other owner of Posiva, Fortum, had transported its used nuclear fuel to Russia prior to that.”

Continue reading at https://analysis.nuclearenergyinsider.com/significant-milestone-world-first-underground-repository?utm_campaign=NEI%2009OCT19%20Newsletter%20%28Database%29&utm_medium=email&utm_source=Eloqua&elqTrackId=891b9803e56b4ff19e50e434e7e12579&elq=1bd16e8d3aa14d51a3e08be0320218b6&elqaid=48492&elqat=1&elqCampaignId=29382​

Demolition Continues at Hanford’s Plutonium Finishing Plant

July 29, 2019

RICHLAND, Wash. – One of the Hanford Site’s most critical risk-reduction efforts continues at the Plutonium Finishing Plant’s (PFP) main processing facility.

Since April, workers with EM Richland Operations Office (RL) contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company (CHPRC) have safely removed large sections of the main facility, including two stairwells, several sections of piping, and an associated concrete vault.

This time-lapse video highlights lower-risk demolition completed through mid-July.

Demolition resumed after crews finished removing debris that had been on the ground since December 2017, when work stopped after a spread of low levels of contamination. Since September 2018, crews with CHPRC have safely packaged and transferred nearly 7,000 tons of debris to Hanford’s onsite regulated landfill.

Demolition of the remaining lower-risk portions of the main processing facility is expected to be completed by the end of August and is being done under a revised demolition strategy and safety controls implemented last fall.




Photos from late June and early July show lower-risk demolition progress on the east end of the Plutonium Finishing Plant’s main processing facility. Demolition on the remaining lower-risk portions of the facility is expected to be completed by the end of August.

“PFP demolition continues to be a high priority, and I am encouraged by the safe and steady progress,” said Tom Teynor, RL project director. “The enhanced safety measures in place since lower-risk activities resumed nearly a year ago have proved effective in protecting workers, the environment, and the public.”

This animation shows the revised demolition approach and enhanced controls, reflecting worker input. Pauses are built into the schedule to review lessons learned and incorporate additional input before proceeding.

“The physical progress on this project is really exciting to see,” said Jason Casper, CHPRC vice president for the PFP closure project. “I’m proud of our team’s continued focus on safety over speed.”

RL continues to post weekly updates on PFP activities here.

-Contributor: Dieter Bohrmann

-Credit: EM Update Newsletter

SRS Employees Further Safety, Create Efficiencies in Plutonium Downblending

July 29, 2019

A new, sturdier mock-up of a glovebox was built at K Area at the Savannah River Site for employee training on updated procedures related to plutonium downblending.

AIKEN, S.C.  EM, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and the management and operations contractor at the Savannah River Site are partnering to reduce radiological exposure, improve efficiency, and align with long-term DOE plutonium downblending goals at the site’s K Area Complex.

“K Area is ramping up its capabilities in order to meet the needs of DOE,” Savannah River Nuclear Solutions Facility Manager Steve Wilkerson said. “We are moving from one-shift to two-shift operations, with the plan of being at four shifts by 2021.”

Plutonium downblending is the process of mixing plutonium oxide with an inert material. The material will then be shipped to an out-of-state repository for disposition as waste. All plutonium downblending takes place inside a K Area stainless-steel glovebox with safety glass panels and fitted glove-port openings. The glovebox shields workers from hazards while allowing for contaminated materials handling.

Employee improvements to the glovebox include:

  • A new wing cabinet being installed on the side of the glovebox, which allows for easier introduction of material to the glovebox, compared to the current process of bagging the material and bringing it inside the glovebox through a smaller port.
  • Specially designed blend can carts to roll heavy canisters through the glovebox.
  • A new 6-inch bagport to reduce the amount of transuranic waste generated. The bagport is where workers place material from the glovebox into bags and seal it for storage and removal.
  • Acquiring new tools to allow for tight bag closure.
  • Relocating tools inside the glovebox to allow materials to pass through the glovebox once to complete downblending, instead of multiple times.

Employees completed training in the updated procedures in a newly built mock-up of the glovebox, which is housed in a non-contaminated environment. The mock-up is made of aluminum, making it sturdier than the previous wooden one.

“We are on track to have process optimization complete by spring of 2020,” DOE Nuclear Materials Manager Maxcine Maxted said. “These improvements required a lot of planning and work to complete, but will result in a safer, more efficient process.”

NNSA is in the design phase of its surplus plutonium disposition project, which will add three additional gloveboxes to the K Area, increasing plutonium downblending capacity and expediting the removal of plutonium from South Carolina.

-Contributor: Lindsey MonBarren

-Credit: EM Update Newsletter

Oak Ridge Contractor Develops Next Generation of Cleanup Workers

July 29, 2019


OAK RIDGE, Tenn.  EM’s cleanup contractor at the Oak Ridge Site is helping develop the next generation of workers by leading or collaborating on numerous programs to ensure future cleanup is met with a capable, safety-conscious workforce.

UCOR President and CEO discussed those efforts under way at the 1,800-employee company during an address at the 2019 East Tennessee Workforce Summit last week.

“Even though UCOR will complete major cleanup at ETTP (East Tennessee Technology Park) next year, we realize that much more cleanup will be required here in Oak Ridge and across the nation,” Rueter said. “Because of that continuing need for workers, we are committed to cultivating the next generation of cleanup workers.”

EM has created new economic development opportunities by cleaning and transferring land at ETTP. However, much more work remains to remove all of the old, hazardous infrastructure at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Y-12 National Security Complex, which will enhance safety and clear the way for mission growth at these crucial research and national defense sites.

UCOR’s comprehensive workforce development approach begins in elementary schools and continues through higher education, technical training, and apprenticeships.

The company has invested more than $150,000 in local elementary, middle, and high schools to fund science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education projects in classrooms.

UCOR partnered with United Steelworkers to offer hazardous waste operations and emergency response training to high school students in the region, providing the students credentials that will help them find work in the hazardous waste cleanup industry.

At the collegiate level, UCOR collaborated with the University of Tennessee’s nuclear engineering department to offer the first nuclear decommissioning and environmental management minor degree at a university or college in the U.S. UCOR has hired several recent graduates with that minor degree. UCOR also is collaborating with Roane State Community College on a chemical operators program.

A collaborative effort with the North America's Building Trades Unions and the Cooperative Agreement of Labor and Management led to the East Tennessee Apprenticeship Readiness Program. UCOR sponsored the program’s inaugural classes, and the 48 graduates were offered employment in the Oak Ridge area, many by UCOR.

The company’s summer internship program pairs college students from across the nation with mentors. Several participants pursued careers at UCOR after completing their internships.

Within UCOR, the Rising Senior Leaders Program gives a boost to future leaders. It is UCOR’s signature 12-month development program for leaders who show great potential to rise to upper level leadership positions.

“We have had great success in our cleanup work in Oak Ridge, bringing in projects ahead of schedule and under budget, and most importantly, completing them safely,” Rueter said. “We are proud to have so many partnerships with other organizations, as well as providing our own sponsorship, to keep alive the legacy of safe, effective cleanup and environmental risk reduction at the Oak Ridge Reservation.”

-Contributor: Wayne McKinney

-Credit: EM Update Newsletter

800 People Attend DOE-Supported STEM Night at Oak Ridge School

February 26, 2019

Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management Manager Jay Mullis participates in the DOE Career Café, where students shared interests, learned about careers, and asked questions.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Nearly 20 employees from DOE’s offices of EM and Science supported a local middle school’s first science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) night, which attracted more than 800 students and their family members.

   Jefferson Middle School’s recent event provided the students and families the opportunity to learn and have fun. Organizers designed activities to share ideas, resources, and opportunities in the STEM fields. Those fields are central to the technical work occurring in DOE’s Oak Ridge operations, which employ about 12,000 people and have a $5.6 billion economic impact in Tennessee.

   Many local organizations partnered with the school for the STEM night to enable the students to explore different aspects of STEM, including 3-D printing, laser scanning, radiation detection, virtual reality, drones, and CO2-powered race cars.

Elizabeth Phillips talks with students about her work as a geologist at the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management. She helped them examine the difference between fossils, minerals, gold, and fool’s gold.
The Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management’s Leon Duquella shows students how to build lava lamps.

 DOE Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) employees gave students an entertaining hands-on lesson on building lava lamps using vegetable oil, water, food coloring, and effervescent antacid. Others participated in the DOE Career Café, where students shared interests, learned about careers, and asked questions of OREM’s scientists, engineers, and technicians.

   “Community involvement is incredibly important to us as an organization, and we are continuously looking for opportunities for our employees to interact with students in local schools,” OREM Manager Jay Mullis said. “This event provided an excellent environment for students to have some fun and learn how diverse and exciting STEM careers can be.”

Students enjoy hands-on lessons on building lava lamps.
 Alex Goldberg, the school’s STEM coach, emphasized the importance of having major STEM employers engage young people in the community.

   “We are proud to represent Oak Ridge and bring the entire community together to further the STEM possibilities for our students, and the Department of Energy plays a vital role in this endeavor,” Goldberg said.

   Oak Ridge was the second school district in the U.S. to have each of its elementary, middle, and high schools fully STEM-accredited and certified.

   Mullis appreciated the opportunity to engage the students at this stage of their education at the STEM event.

   “We work to introduce them to new, exciting ideas and make them aware of the options available to them,” he said. “It is an investment in our future. One day, some of these kids may be responsible for leading our program and achieving Oak Ridge’s cleanup mission.”

-Contributor: Ben Williams

SRNS Explores Expanding University Recruitment

February 26, 2019


Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) engineer Wim Lewis discusses safety requirements with SRNS employees Zach Bogard, left, and Wes McGuire, who are recent graduates of Murray State University.

AIKEN, S.C.  EM’s cleanup contractor at the Savannah River Site (SRS) is benefiting from a new recruitment strategy to fill much-needed positions in industrial health and safety.

   “Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) must have qualified health and safety professionals to achieve our missions. To stay ahead of our critical need, we spearheaded partnerships with accredited post-secondary schools to bring us face to face with upcoming graduates looking to start meaningful careers,” SRNS Health and Safety Manager Cindy Lunsford said.

   Over two days late last year, SRNS health and safety professionals discussed career opportunities and presented an overview of SRS and the surrounding area to occupational safety and health students at Murray State University (MSU) in Murray, Kentucky. They also met one on one with the students.

   SRNS offered employment to a qualified candidate while at MSU, and since returning to SRS, the team has received applications from other MSU students.

   The recruitment team is exploring use of this strategy at other universities in Alabama, North Carolina, and Florida.

-Contributor: Caroline Reppert

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