AIKEN, S.C. – EM recently surpassed a project milestone to clean 20 gloveboxes and radiohoods in the Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL) Analytical Laboratory approximately two months early as part of the Savannah River Site’s (SRS) laboratory consolidation efforts.
Workers have analyzed samples from radiochemical processing and radiological environmental monitoring programs using gloveboxes and radiohoods for over 55 years at several facilities across the site. Gloveboxes are stainless-steel boxes with safety glass panels and fitted glove-port openings to allow for safe handling of contaminated materials. They shield and segregate workers from hazards. A radiohood contains a work surface and ventilation hood, and is used for handling small quantities of radioactive materials and corrosive chemicals.
“Completing the cleanup of gloveboxes and radiohoods ahead of schedule is a great accomplishment,” DOE F Area Program Manager Randy Clendenning said.
To reduce costs and streamline capabilities, SRNL has begun a multi-year project to relocate analytical services from SRNL laboratory facilities located in SRS’s F Area to SRNL’s central facilities location.
“Safe reduction in the operational footprint of F Area laboratories and relocation of ongoing analytical methods have involved teaming by many workgroups at Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) and SRNL,” said Woodie Melton, director of the Analytical Laboratories Section at SRNS, the site’s management and operations contractor. “When complete, the consolidation of analytical work at SRNL will provide a significant savings and allow the lab to better serve EM and National Nuclear Security Administration missions.”
F Area is home to the decommissioned F Canyon chemical processing facility and 235-F Plutonium Finishing Facility, which is currently undergoing deactivation activities.
“Our goal is to eventually move all personnel and capabilities out of F Area and to put all facilities located there in surveillance and maintenance until they are decommissioned,” said FH Lab Lay-up and Deactivation Senior Project Manager Anatia Whittenburg.
Since fiscal year (FY) 2018, the F Area Team has taken 10 laboratories no longer used out of service in the F Area analytical facilities, Whittenburg said.
“We are expected to complete activities to take four additional labs out of service this fiscal year,” said Whittenburg. “In addition to this work, a number of gloveboxes and radiohoods are no longer in use in operating labs and the team has been working to clean out those units, which will allow us to accelerate deactivation activities next year.”
The SRNS deactivation team is also removing and discarding unneeded equipment. The deactivation of the F Area analytical facilities moves F Area closer to being put in surveillance and maintenance mode, which lowers the cost of operational activities.
The colocation of SRNL capabilities is scheduled to continue through fiscal FY2021 until deactivation of the F Area Analytical Laboratories can begin. The site plans to begin those deactivation activities in FY2021 and complete them in FY2023.