Office of Environmental Management

Keeping SRS Workers Safe in Highly Enriched Uranium Campaign

January 22, 2019

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Radiological Protection Inspector Wanda Patterson gathers information before beginning a radiological survey.
Radiological Protection Inspector Wanda Patterson gathers information before beginning a radiological survey.

AIKEN, S.C. – Through deliberate work, planning, and continuous monitoring, EM and the management and operations contractor at the Savannah River Site (SRS) ensure the safety of workers involved in a project to blend down liquid highly enriched uranium that is shipped offsite for use in generating electricity.

   “The target residue material (TRM) posed a significant challenge to the team in designing the processes for safely handling the material, which is shipped in individual stainless-steel containers,” said Johnny Lott, facility manager with H Area Radiological Protection Department (RPD) at Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS).

   Lott said the containers, which have significant dose and contamination rates, need to be handled with extra care to ensure safety. That’s why SRNS devised ways to limit worker exposure to the containers and provide real-time monitoring of personnel involved in the project, he said.

   One of the most successful methods for limiting personnel exposure is use of wireless computer tablets as remote controls to allow a mechanized container removal system to enter the cask in which the TRM containers are shipped. That system pulls the containers into a shielding device for initial processing, eliminating the need for operators to be in high dose rate areas.

   SRNS also performs pre- and post-job reviews for employees to provide suggestions on how to improve the process in which the RPD quantifies exposure rates without being in the radiation field.

   Real-time monitoring allows SRNS to make sure radiation exposure remains within acceptable levels when employees are around the containers.

   “Safety is at the forefront of all we do at SRS, and I congratulate the team on doing what it takes to make this operation as safe for our workers as possible,” said Wyatt Clark, SRNS vice president of EM operations.

 

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