AIKEN, S.C. – The Savannah River Site (SRS) exceeded its plutonium downblending goal for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30 ahead of schedule as part of ongoing activities to remove the material from South Carolina.
“Exceeding our fiscal 2022 downblending goal ahead of schedule is a testament to our team’s commitment to safe, efficient and secure operations,” said K Area Facility Manager Lee Sims of Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS), the SRS management and operations contractor. “Much of our work in the past few years has been to introduce efficiencies and speed up our processing rates. This shows that our efforts are working.”
Plutonium materials shipped to K Area Complex at SRS are sealed inside a robust configuration of storage and shipping containers. The materials are stored in K Area until they are ready to be downblended.
Downblending is the method used at SRS for the disposition of surplus plutonium. Also referred to as dilute and dispose, downblending involves mixing the plutonium materials with an inert material called adulterant, producing a mixture that can eventually be safely disposed at a geologic repository.
This year, K Area personnel processed a variety of items, many of which provided unique challenges.
“K Area’s accomplishment is more impressive considering the nature of the packaging and risks associated with some of the materials we downblended this year,” Sims said. “Exceeding projected processing rates while handling a variety of materials for the first time builds a great foundation for the program moving forward.”
SRNS employees began downblending plutonium in K Area in 2016.
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