Office of Environmental Management

EM Crews Tear Down Cold War Facility Used to Repair SRS Rail Cars

November 19, 2019

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Crews knock down a facility once used to repair cask cars that transported nuclear materials at the Savannah River Site.
Crews knock down a facility once used to repair cask cars that transported nuclear materials at the Savannah River Site.

AIKEN, S.C. EM crews recently demolished a building used to repair heavily shielded railroad cask cars that carried nuclear materials from reactor buildings to chemical processing facilities during the Cold War era at the Savannah River Site (SRS).

The successful deactivation and decommissioning of the building is part of the site’s efforts to clean up legacy facilities and prepare for future missions. Workers have deactivated and decommissioned 292 structures at SRS to date.

“SRS is responsible for a wide variety of projects and missions. However, as we grow in some areas, we no longer need to incur the ongoing costs to maintain obsolete structures,” said Rick Sprague, senior vice president of the environmental, safety, health, and quality division at EM contractor Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS). “The best alternative is usually to safely and efficiently demolish them.”

The building and the cask cars became obsolete following the closure of the site’s last reactor in 1993.

SRNS Geologist Steven Conner said that demolishing the cask car repair building posed a challenge due to low-level contamination found within the structure.

“The decommissioning of any radiologically contaminated facility requires additional safety measures to ensure the protection of our employees and those of our subcontractor, CTI and Associates,” Conner said. “Working as members of the SRNS project, CTI employees performed all contracted activities related to the deactivation and decommissioning of this facility both safely and with no release of contamination to the environment.”

SRNS Program Manager Mike Griffith noted that working with CTI, an SRNS mentor-protégé company, was a win-win for SRNS and CTI.

“They did a great job, and it was rewarding to help a young small business succeed at its first deactivation and decommissioning contract,” Griffith said.

The SRNS Mentor-Protégé Center of Excellence provides space for small businesses to share best practices and lessons learned, and helps them focus on strengths, promote growth, cultivate new skills, and expand capabilities.

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