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
Nothing to report.
Waste Shipments: As of Jan. 1, 2011, a total of
34,587 cubic meters of contact-handled transuranic
waste, 96.37 cubic meters of remote-handled transuranic
waste, and 3,744 cubic meters of previously-buried
transuranic waste have been shipped from Idaho to the
Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico for disposal.
Idaho Cleanup Project
Nothing to report.
Waste Exhumation: Cleanup crews with CH2M-WG Idaho,
the main cleanup contractor at the Department of
Energy’s Idaho Site, began digging into Pit 9 recently
as part of a campaign that is expected to exhume 500
cubic meters of radioactive and hazardous waste during
the next 18 months. For a brief history of “Pit 9,” go
Idaho National Laboratory
Dec. 20: While moving a high bay crane over to pick
up a hatch at the Fuel Conditioning Facility, a grease
gun that had been left on top of the crane gear box fell
from the crane and landed a short distance from an
operations technician. Work was stopped, management was
notified of the event and it was verified that there
were no other items left on the crane that could be a
Dec. 21: While monitoring operations at the Advanced
Test Reactor, an operator noted that water flow through
an instrumentation transmitter was less than required.
The indicator system was declared inoperable and
compensatory measures were taken.
Dec. 23: While performing maintenance on a vacuum system
in a radiation area at the Analytical Laboratory, a
radiation monitor alarmed. The work crew immediately
exited the area and performed surveys, which detected
contamination on the protective clothing of one of the
mechanics. The clothing was removed and bagged for
disposal and all personnel then performed whole body
surveys again before exiting the facility. No
contamination was found on the workers.
Jan. 3: The Idaho Falls Fire Marshall issued a notice
of violation to the lab for failing to obtain a permit
for the remodeling of the cafeteria at the Engineering
Research Office Building. INL Construction Management
and the subcontractor responsible for the work then
applied for the appropriate building permit.
Jan. 4: It was determined that a required radiation
monitor at the Neutron Radiography Reactor is not
operating properly after two separate instances of the
monitor showing anomalous readings. The reactor was shut
down when it was determined the monitor was not working
properly, management was notified and a critique held.
Jan. 5: A drive chain was removed from a security
fence at the Specific Manufacturing Capability facility
without installing a lockout/tagout and without approved
work controlled documentation. A critique was held, a
lockout/tagout was installed on the electrical
disconnect for the gate, and a maintenance request was
submitted to repair the gate. (NE-ID—BEA-SMC-2011-0001).
Jan. 10: A worker who had been performing repairs on
remote manipulators at the Hot Fuel Examination Facility
came close to exceeding his annual limit for radiation
exposure to his extremities. Radiological work involving
BEA and its subcontractors requiring radiation work
permits at the Materials and Fuels Complex and the Idaho
Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center was suspended
pending further evaluation and corrective actions.
Building a “Prison” for Radioactive Waste:
Researchers at Idaho National Laboratory, Center for
Advanced Energy Studies and other national laboratories
and universities are working together to test an
inexpensive method to sequester radioactive strontium-90
where it lies. The researchers can coax underground
microbes to form calcite, a white mineral form of
calcium carbonate and the main ingredient in cement. The
calcite should be able to trap strontium-90 until long
after it has decayed into harmless zirconium.