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D&D Industry News

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

3D Printing Improves Radiological Safety at SRS at Low Cost

September 09, 2020

 Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) Senior Health Physicist Michael Ratliff, left, examines parts created by SRNS Principal Scientist Andy Warren using a 3D printer.

AIKEN, S.C. – An employee at the Savannah River Site (SRS) recently discovered how 3D printers can create unique objects at a low cost to improve safety and operations.

EM and Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS), the site’s management and operations contractor, analyze about 80,000 industrial air monitoring filters each year for radiological contamination within SRS nuclear facilities.

Known as a high-tech “radiological investigator,” Senior Health Physicist Michael Ratliff operates a laboratory at SRS where those analyses are completed.

Air filter analysis determines the source of radioactive particulates and helps measure possible airborne particulates within an operating facility. The process provides valuable data that can be used to monitor the health and safety of SRS employees working within nuclear facilities.

Ratliff said the circular filters sent to the laboratory for analysis are two inches in diameter on cards that are about three inches wide. Each card is packaged and delivered to the laboratory for analysis.

Recently, Ratliff sought the expertise of Andy Warren, who works at a laboratory within the SRNS environmental bioassay organization. That laboratory is used to analyze samples submitted by workers to assess possible occupational exposure to radiological substances and to ensure implemented hazard controls prevent occupational exposure.

Warren asked Ratliff how the cards are used in the high-volume equipment that processes the estimated 80,000 samples a year.

“I brought him one of the little fixtures used in the automated units,” Ratliff said. “To my surprise, the next day he provided a 3D printed part that fit perfectly on my counting instrument and holds the sample card exactly centered in a reproducible geometry.”

Ratliff noted that Warren’s solution improves the quality of data and reduces the time needed to prepare the analyses, all while enhancing radiological safety at SRS.

“When Michael contacted me and said, ‘I could use your help,’ we were already set up to create unique, one-off products using a computer-aided design program. It took about two hours to draft the part and send the design to the printer. The next morning, I came in, took it off the printer, and gave to Michael,” Warren said.

What use to take months at a design and fabrication shop can now be printed overnight at the site.

According to Warren, costs associated with 3D printing are low — approximately $7,000 for a printer and $2,000 for computer-aided design software.

“The fixtures made for Ratliff cost about $5 dollars each,” Warren said.

-Contributor: DT Townsend

Source: EM Update | Vol. 12, Issue 25 | Sept. 8, 2020​

Oak Ridge Constructing Test Facility for Sludge Processing

September 09, 2020

 Last week, crews moved a massive 50,000-tank into position to support efforts at the Sludge Processing Mock Test Facility under construction at Oak Ridge.​

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Construction is underway on the $10 million Sludge Processing Mock Test Facility, which will play a vital role in maturing technologies needed to begin processing Oak Ridge’s 500,000-gallon inventory of transuranic sludge waste.

Transuranic waste contains elements heavier than uranium, hence the name “trans,” or “beyond” uranium. Oak Ridge’s inventory of that waste was generated and stored onsite from years of defense-related research, conducted primarily at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

The Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) has been working since 2003 to process, repackage, and ship Oak Ridge’s inventory of contact-handled and remote-handled transuranic debris waste for permanent disposal at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, New Mexico. With that processing scheduled for completion in 2022, OREM is now working to address the site’s inventory of transuranic sludge waste.

Crews have already placed footers and poured the foundation for the mock test facility. They took another major step forward last week when they transported a 50,000-gallon tank to the worksite that will be used during testing.

 Site preparation for the Sludge Processing Mock Test Facility began in January 2020. Crews recently poured the concrete slab for the structure, which is slated for completion in October 2021.

OREM will test six critical technology elements to gather the data necessary to complete the final design and construction of the Sludge Processing Facility later this decade. Two of those technologies will be tested at the mock test facility, which is now under construction.

Engineers at the mock test facility will focus on testing pump technologies and instrumentation measurement technologies. Advanced pump technologies are needed to pull the sludge wastes out of their storage tanks for processing. The instrumentation measurement technologies will inform operators what material is moving through the pumps, including its contents and density, to assist with processing needs.

“There is a lot of preparation and groundwork required before we can begin addressing our inventory of transuranic sludge waste, but we are moving closer to that goal with the construction of this crucial testing facility,” ORNL Portfolio Federal Project Manager Nathan Felosi said.

Site preparation began for the Sludge Processing Mock Test Facility in January 2020, and construction is slated for completion in October 2021. OREM anticipates approximately two years of testing to gather the data needed to determine the best designs and approaches for the Sludge Processing Facility’s final design.

-Contributor: Ben Williams

Source: EM Update | Vol. 12, Issue 25 | Sept. 8, 2020​

West Valley Prepares for Major Facility Demolition

September 09, 2020


Using a mobile crane, workers install a long-reach arm on a new fork truck for use in waste operations for the future demolition of the Main Plant Process Building at EM's West Valley Demonstration Project.

WEST VALLEY, N.Y. – The West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP) has obtained a fork truck capable of lifting more than 90,000 pounds for waste removal in the future demolition of the Main Plant Process Building (MPPB) — an EM 2020 priority.

“Safe and successful operations begin with safety, extensive planning, and the right equipment,” said Stephen Bousquet, EM WVDP deputy facility project director for the MPPB demolition. “This paves the way for the future demolition of the Main Plant Process Building.”

The fork truck was delivered to the site on three separate tractor-trailers. Workers used a mobile crane to assemble it.

“This fork truck is a versatile machine capable of lifting and stacking heavy box containers and loading railcars or tractor-trailers, and has a long reach for safe distancing” said Scott Chase, facility disposition operations manager for EM WVDP cleanup contractor CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley. “This fork truck will provide flexibility for safe, efficient, and successful waste operations during demolition activities.”

The five-story, 350,000-square-foot MPPB was constructed in the 1960s as a commercial reprocessing facility to recover reusable plutonium and uranium from spent nuclear reactor fuel. It operated from 1966 to 1972.

-Contributor: Joseph Pillittere

Source: EM Update | Vol. 12, Issue 25 | Sept. 8, 2020​

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

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