EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is a regular summary
of operations at DOE’s Idaho Site. It has been compiled
in response to a request from stakeholders for more
information on health, safety and environmental
incidents at DOE facilities in Idaho. It also includes a
brief summary of accomplishments at the laboratory. The
report is broken down by contractor:
Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project (AMWTP),
Idaho Cleanup Project (ICP)
Idaho National Laboratory (INL). This summary will
be sent to everyone on INL’s regular news release
distribution list every other week. To be added to this
distribution list, please call Brad Bugger at (208)
Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project
No incidents to report.
Waste Shipments: Twenty-three of twenty-three planned
shipments of transuranic waste were made from Idaho to
the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico for
disposal during the week ending Oct. 10, 2009. Sixteen
of the shipments contained exhumed buried waste from the
Advanced Retrieval Project.
Idaho Cleanup Project
Sept. 30: The Utah Radiation Control Board issued a
Notice of Violation to CH2M-WG Idaho for placing the
wrong identification number on a low-level waste
shipment from DOE’s Idaho Site to the Energy Solutions
disposal site in Utah. Corrected documentation was
provided to Energy Solutions and a fact-finding meeting
was held to determine the cause of the incident. (EM-ID—CWI-ICPWM-2009-0004).
Oct. 6: While preparing to remove asbestos insulation
from a pipe at the Idaho Nuclear Technology and
Engineering Center, a worker tried to remove a light
fixture that was still powered. The worker noted a small
flash while cutting the electrical wiring. Work was
immediately stopped, management was notified and a fact
finding meeting initiated. (EM-ID—CWI-BIC-2009-0006).
Oct. 7: During routine monitoring of the Irradiated
Fuel Storage Facility, it was noted that rain water was
leaking into the Fuel Storage Area. Moisture in the fuel
storage facility is a safety concern. All work was
halted in the area, plugged drains were cleared which
caused water on the roof to flow off, facility
surveillances were increased and further investigation
was planned. (EM-ID—CWI-FUELRCSTER-2009-0004).
Oct. 8: A scissor lift used for welding ducting
contacted a 240-volt electrical cable at the Integrated
Waste Treatment Unit construction site. There were no
injuries, but the electrical cable was damaged and the
incident was not reported as required. A fact finding
meeting was held and subcontractor management conducted
a safety stand down for all personnel to review safety
procedures and policies. (EM-ID—CWI-IWTU-2009-0006).
Oct. 8: As a technician was leaving the Accelerated
Retrieval Project (where waste containing radioactive
and hazardous chemicals is retrieved), someone noticed a
split in the worker’s respirator air hose. There is no
evidence that the worker was exposed to radioactive or
hazardous materials, and smears on the equipment and
nasal swabs of the worker were negative. All personnel
in the facility who use similar equipment were ordered
to exit the work areas, and all air hoses on similar
equipment were inspected. (EM-ID—CWI-RWMC-2009-0007).
Decontamination and Decommissioning: American
Recovery and Reinvestment Act-funded crews have
completed decontamination and decommissioning of ten
structures resulting in a footprint reduction of around
70,000 square feet at DOE’s Idaho Site.
Idaho National Laboratory
Sept. 30: An automatic shutdown of the Advanced Test
Reactor occurred when a circuit breaker on a diesel bus
tripped open on a ground fault indication. An
investigation was initiated into the cause of the ground
fault trip. The reactor remained in a safe condition and
was restarted following review of the shutdown.
Oct. 2: Subcontractor employees working at the
Materials and Fuels Complex inappropriately isolated and
removed a section of piping for repairs without
authorization and without applying the appropriate lock
out/tag out. The subcontractor personnel realized their
error, secured the area and notified facility management
of the event. (NE-ID—BEA-MFC-2009-0005).
Oct. 6: An employee at the Specific Manufacturing
Capability facility performed work on an energized
system without the proper lock out/tag out, zero energy
verification or required electrical personal protective
equipment. Operation crews were briefed on the event
prior to assuming shift duties, and safety requirements
and expectations were reinforced. A critique of the
incident was held. (NE-ID—BEA-SMC-2009-0011).
Oct. 6: On Sept. 23, during site-wide boiler
start-up, a valve that was danger-tagged and locked out
at the Fuel Conditioning Facility was found to be left
open. A day later, a valve that had been locked out and
tagged shut at the same facility was found to be open.
Both incidents resulted in water leakage in the basement
of the facility. The boiler startup was suspended and
the open valve closed, locked out and tagged out. Boiler
start-up was completed, the water in the basement of the
facility was cleaned up, and an investigation into the
improper lock out/tag outs was initiated.
Oct. 12: An automatic shutdown of the Advanced Test
Reactor occurred as the result of an error by an
experiment operator who failed to follow proper
procedures. The reactor remained in a safe condition; a
critique was conducted and corrective actions taken.
Hydrogen Milestone Achieved: Researchers at the Idaho
National Laboratory reached another milestone on the
road to reducing carbon emissions and providing energy
security when their high-temperature electrolysis fuel
cell set a new mark for endurance. The Integrated
Laboratory Scale experiment has now operated
continuously for 2,583 hours at higher efficiencies than
previously attained. By decreasing the amount of
electricity required by the electrolysis process that
separates hydrogen from oxygen in water, there’s the
potential for large energy savings.