AIKEN, S.C. – EM and its Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) continue to consolidate critical analytical capabilities and reduce the Savannah River Site’s (SRS) operational footprint with the latest transfer of radiological asbestos monitoring equipment.
SRNL moved the equipment from its F/H Laboratory to the site’s Environmental Bioassay Laboratory (EBL), the third transfer of analytical capabilities as EM and SRNL complete modifications to aging infrastructure.
EM, SRNL and Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS), the site’s management and operations contractor, are consolidating the F/H Laboratory into SRNL space, a cost savings move that realigns resources at the site for future missions.
The F/H Laboratory serves EM by evaluating radiological and non-radiological samples for process, product, accountability, and criticality safety analyses. It’s located several miles from most SRNL operations at the 310-square-mile site.
Removing F/H Laboratory operations from the F Area facility allows SRS to place that building in a low-cost surveillance and maintenance mode similar to the F Canyon chemical separations facility, which was deactivated in 2005. This mode allows for a minimal number of employees in the area to perform periodic activities to ensure the facility is safe and poses no risk to the environment.
Asbestos analysis for radiological contamination is a critical need and one-of-a-kind capability at SRS.
“By transferring this analytical capability and merging it with ongoing analytical services performed by EBL, SRNS has retained a unique capability that is difficult to find in commercial laboratories,” SRNL Deputy Director Sharon Marra said.
According to Mary Flora, the SRNS environmental stewardship, safety and health representative in the SRNL modification project, “much of SRS’s infrastructure was constructed in the early 1950s, when asbestos was commonly used. The site’s ability to perform radiological asbestos monitoring is critical to ensure worker safety and health is maintained as SRNS safely and cost effectively executes its mission.”
Prior to the transfer of the radiological asbestos monitoring equipment, the EBL was only able to perform asbestos analysis on non-radiological samples, while those samples suspected to contain radiological contamination were taken to F/H Laboratory.
Typically, asbestos is found in old construction materials such as roofing, ceiling tiles, gaskets, siding and insulation. Most recently, it was discovered in below-ground piping during road construction work on C-Road.
“EBL was able to quickly analyze samples from piping that was uncovered during culvert work on C-Road and ultimately determine the presence of asbestos. Our ability to provide this analysis onsite prevented delays in road construction and most importantly, it provided Industrial Hygiene with accurate data to establish protective measures to prevent employee exposure,” Flora said.
The two F/H Laboratory capabilities SRNL previously transferred to EBL include analysis of tank corrosion chemistry samples and processing of radioactive beryllium samples.
“These transfers yield cost savings and provide centralization of analytical methods, which better aligns laboratory resources for future needs,” Marra said.