Office of Environmental Management

SRS Upgrades Nuclear Materials, SNF Facilities Ahead of Schedule, Under Budget

July 10, 2018

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Before and after photos of the K and L areas power distribution system project.
Before and after photos of the K and L areas power distribution system project.

AIKEN, S.C. – The Savannah River Site (SRS) recently finished a major infrastructure project five months ahead of schedule and $3.9 million under budget.

   SRS management and operations contractor Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) safely replaced 60-year-old power distribution equipment at the K and L areas to ensure key nuclear materials and spent nuclear fuel storage facilities continue to operate. 

   K Area provides for the handling and interim storage of excess plutonium and other special nuclear materials. L Area is the consolidation point for all aluminum-clad used nuclear fuel from research reactors worldwide. Crews completed the work without interrupting operations. 

   “These facilities are vital to SRS operations and our national security mission,” SRNS President and CEO Stuart MacVean said. “Ensuring the reliability of the infrastructure to support these missions is one of our most important jobs. We’ve made a commitment to prioritize and invest in improving the site infrastructure and we’re following through on that.”

   The power distribution system that was replaced had entered service in 1951. It has experienced an increase in outages in recent years and replacement parts were no longer commercially available.

   Additionally, legacy switches ran on compressed air, and the air tanks had degraded such that workers could not access the facilities unless power to the facility was completely turned off.

   “They weren’t able to do anything without turning the whole building off,” said Tim Spieker, the SRNS project manager for the K and L Reliable Power Project. “Each time it took three or four days. The replacement project increases reliability tremendously, which will allow everyone to be more efficient.” 

   Though the K and L area projects were separate, they were managed as one project to increase efficiency. The $19 million project was funded by EM and the National Nuclear Security Administration.

   “Making sure we could safely keep the lights on in these facilities while not impacting operations was the most important aspect of this project,” Spieker said. “Being able to treat both areas as one project helped us save costs and time. It’s been a great show of teamwork from all involved.”



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