EA-2052: Proposed Changes for Analytical Chemistry and Materials Characterization at the Radiological Laboratory/Utility/Office Building, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico

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Summary

The Environmental Assessment analyzes the potential environmental impacts of administrative and physical changes necessary to convert the Radiological Laboratory/Utility/Office Building (RLUOB) located in Los Alamos National Laboratory's Technical Area 55 from a Radiological Facility to a material-at-risk-limited Hazard Category 3 Nuclear Facility. The proposed action would maximize use of RLUOB laboratory space for analytical chemistry and materials characterization operations.

Contact Information

Questions, EA comments, or requests for a paper copy of the EA may be submitted via U.S. mail to:

     NNSA Los Alamos Field Office
     ATTN: CMRR Project Management Office
     3747 West Jemez Road
     Los Alamos, NM 87544

or emailed to: RLUOBEA@hq.doe.gov

About this project

The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has a need for enduring analytical chemistry (AC) and materials characterization (MC) capabilities at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), and the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research (CMR) Building in Technical Area (TA)‑3 where AC and MC operations have historically occurred cannot be operated to the full extent needed for these operations.  In 2003, DOE/NNSA prepared the Environmental Impact Statement for the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Building Replacement Project at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico (CMRR EIS) (DOE/EIS-0350) to evaluate potential environmental impacts of alternatives for replacing the AC and MC capabilities provided in the CMR Building.  DOE/NNSA subsequently issued a Record of Decision (ROD) (69 Federal Register [FR] 6967) for constructing and operating a two-building replacement for the CMR Building to be located in TA‑55.  The Radiological Laboratory/Utility/Office Building (RLUOB) was constructed and provides laboratories, offices, training and operations centers, an incident command center, and utilities space.  A second planned facility to house Hazard Category 2 nuclear operations was initially delayed and subsequently cancelled.  In 2015, NNSA issued the Supplement Analysis, Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Building Replacement Project at Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico (2015 CMRR SA) (DOE/EIS‑0350‑SA-2), which evaluated the potential environmental impacts of performing AC and MC operations by using RLUOB and the existing Hazard Category 2, Plutonium Facility, Building 4 (PF‑4). Changes to the programs performed in PF‑4 had made laboratory space available at PF-4 that could be repurposed to support AC and MC operations.  Additionally, changes in radiation dosimetry and accident release fractions increased the quantity of plutonium-239 equivalent (PuE)[1] permitted in a Radiological Facility such as RLUOB to 38.6 grams. 

NNSA has now identified the potential to recategorize RLUOB from a Radiological Facility to a Hazard Category 3 Nuclear Facility with an increased material-at-risk (MAR) limit of 400 grams PuE (fifteen percent of the 2,610 grams of PuE allowed in a Hazard Category 3 Nuclear Facility), allowing certain laboratory capabilities previously planned for PF‑4 to be installed in RLUOB.  Fewer modifications to PF‑4 would be required, while additional modifications would be made to RLUOB.  Modifications to PF‑4 and RLUOB would not require changes to the structure of either facility.

 

[1] Because the threshold quantity (TQ) for plutonium-239 in a Hazard Category 3 Nuclear Facility was changed from 8.4 grams to 38.6 grams, up to 38.6 grams of plutonium-239 can be handled within a Radiological Facility.  This change in TQ is a function of an enhanced understanding of dosimetry and revised accident release fractions. That is, the health risk associated with 8.4 grams of plutonium-239 as calculated using the previous dosimetry and accident release fractions yields the same health risk as 38.6 grams of plutonium-239 calculated using the updated dosimetry and accident release fractions.