Office of Environmental Management

Paducah Site Installs More-Efficient Alarms

May 21, 2019

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EM Paducah Site Electrician Steve Atherton installs electronic horns for the criticality accident alarm system to replace the air-powered horns that have been used since the 1990s.
EM Paducah Site Electrician Steve Atherton installs electronic horns for the criticality accident alarm system to replace the air-powered horns that have been used since the 1990s.

PADUCAH, Ky. – Workers are making changes to reduce utility and maintenance costs for EM’s Paducah Site cleanup.

Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership (FRNP), EM’s deactivation and remediation contractor at the site, is switching from air horns to electronic horns for the criticality accident alarm system (CAAS) in the large C-333 and C-337 Process Buildings.

“Electronic horns operate more efficiently than the air horns,” said Paducah Site Lead Jennifer Woodard of EM’s Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office. “They are less expensive to test and maintain, while still functioning as an important safety feature at the Paducah Site.”

During a power outage, the power supply to the electronic horns is automatically switched to one of several large battery banks to maintain alarm capability. Electronic horns do not rely on the plant’s air compressors, which helps to reduce the amount of power needed to operate the CAAS.

The CAAS was installed in the early 1960s during the height of operations at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant. It was upgraded in the early 1980s and again in 1999. Enrichment operations were very loud and the air horns were needed to be heard over the sound of the process equipment. With enrichment operations ceased, the noise levels were reduced and electronic horns became the preferred option. All air horns will be transitioned across the site by the end of the year.

“Providing adequate safeguards for our workers, the community, and the environment is a top priority as we improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the site’s alarm systems,” said FRNP Program Manager Jeff Bradford. “We will continue to seek ways to safely reduce costs at the Paducah Site.”

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