AIKEN, S.C. – Contractor employees supporting the EM program at the Savannah River Site (SRS) recently reevaluated deactivation plans for legacy facilities in the site’s F Area, prompting a change in direction resulting in significant cost savings.
F Area is home to several legacy nuclear facilities and support buildings no longer used for processing nuclear material, including the F Canyon Chemical Separations and F Area Analytical Laboratory facilities. F Area also includes Building 235-F, which was used to process plutonium used in space exploration. The area is undergoing cleanup and closure to make room for the new Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility and to help EM reduce its cleanup footprint at SRS.
Three legacy buildings in F Area are being deactivated. Two of those buildings were home to the F Area Analytical Laboratories, whose capabilities were moved to another location at SRS in 2020. The third is home to the chiller plant, which provides chilled water needed for conditioned air — either heated or cooled air depending on the season — to the former laboratory buildings.
Initial plans called for deactivating those three buildings by individual zones to reach final end-state objectives, or endpoints, according to Trey Gilland, manager of the Laboratory Deactivation Project with Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS), the managing and operating contractor at SRS.
“The plan was to deactivate the high-hazard, highly contaminated zones first, working our way out to the lower-hazard, lower-contamination zones,” Gilland said. “Steam and water services were going to be isolated at the end of the deactivation project to provide conditioned air until all deactivation activities inside the buildings were complete.”
However, deactivation team members determined they could eliminate substantial utility costs in the near term by isolating steam and water services earlier than planned.
With SRNS set to deactivate most radiological areas in the former F Area Analytical Laboratory buildings by the end of fiscal year 2023, which ends Sept. 30, the deactivation team considered ways to save steam costs and apply that savings to future deactivation activities.
“Instead of the deactivation-by-zone concept, we looked at individual endpoints required to isolate steam to the buildings and identified 36 endpoints that need to be completed before we can move to unconditioned air,” said Jack Musall, project engineer with SRNS. “We can complete deactivation of the remaining zones, or endpoints, without conditioned air, so we pivoted the schedule to transition to unconditioned air in all three buildings, with the first building set for completion in fiscal year 2024 and the remaining two in fiscal year 2025. This will result in annual savings in steam costs,” Gilland added.
Following completion of deactivation of the 36 endpoints required to isolate steam, the project team will return to its original plan of deactivating by zones. The end goal of deactivating those facilities will be removal of hazards to make them safe and stable, and reduction of surveillance and maintenance costs.
“SRNS employees are committed to continuous improvement and to being good stewards of taxpayer money,” SRNS President and CEO Dennis Carr said. “This change in direction goes to prove the flexibility and ingenuity of our workforce and their ability to get the job done.”
SRS considers legacy facilities as those used for past missions in nuclear materials. Many of those buildings were constructed when the site was founded in the 1950s.
“The purpose of these facilities during that time addressed the national security needs of the country,” Gilland said. “It is fitting that the cleanup of these legacy buildings allows F Area to focus once again on national security with construction of the Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility.”
-Contributor: Lindsey MonBarren
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