DOE-Idaho Operations Summary

DOE-ID Bi-Weekly Summary
For the Period November 8 to November 28, 2011

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) and 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) 526-0833.

Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project

Nov. 8: Management at the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project initiated a safety stand-down on cell entries until a course of action could be developed to ensure a higher degree of safety for personnel entering into contamination and high contamination areas at the plant. The stand-down was the result of an increasing trend of contamination events in such areas. (EM-ID—ITG-AMWTF-2011-0014).

Nov. 15: Alpha contamination was discovered on a waste box during cleaning operations at the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project. All work was stopped and the area where the box was located was declared a contamination area. The contaminated areas were covered with plastic and the entire box was wrapped with plastic to contain the contamination. (EM-ID—ITG-AMWTF-2011-0015).

Nov. 21: An operator failed to follow proper procedures when entering data from a waste drum into a computer system at the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Facility, violating a technical safety requirement. When the error was discovered, all movement of waste containers into the mass control areas and all assay unit activities were suspended. The qualifications of the operator were suspending pending remedial action. (EM-ID—ITG-AMWTF-2011-0016).

Operational Summary

Through Oct. 31, 2011, a total of 36,742 cubic meters of stored transuranic waste, 106.72 cubic meters of remote-handled transuranic waste and 5,021 cubic meters of previously buried transuranic waste have been shipped to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico for disposal.


Idaho Cleanup Project

Nov. 14: While personnel were treating passivated sodium in building MFC-766, a pressure excursion in the piping occurred. The area was evacuated; on-scene command personnel surveyed the areas outside the building and found no signs of a fire. A release of asbestos occurred during the excursion that exceeded reportable quantities, but there were no injuries or other releases from the incident. An investigation is under way. (EM-ID—CWI-BIC-2011-0009).

Nov. 17: Lock Out/Tag-out violations occurred at the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit when those performing the lock outs failed to identify nitrogen and steam as potential hazardous energy sources, thus isolating only the electrical hazards, not the hazards from off-gas. All work under lock out/tag-outs at the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit was suspended pending performance of a safety review. (EM-ID—CWI-IWTU-2011-0013).

Nov. 22: An inadequate lock out/tag-out was identified at the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit. The lock out/tag-out isolated only one of two nitrogen purge lines to the coal conveyor. Because IWTU was configured to use compressed air instead of nitrogen, the workers were never exposed to nitrogen hazards. All Level II lock out/tag-outs at IWTU were reviewed and work was authorized to continue with additional administrative controls in place. (EM-ID—CWI-IWTU-2011-0014).    

Operational Summary

Treating Underground Contamination: Switching to three catalytic oxidizers nearly 10
years ago enabled the Idaho Cleanup Project at the Radioactive Waste Management Complex
to more effectively treat volatile organic compounds (VOCs) removed from the vadose zone
between ground level and the Snake River Plain Aquifer. While the VOCs pose a risk to the aquifer, the catalytic oxidizers – which operate much like large automobile catalytic converters – are major components of a vapor vacuum extraction and treatment system selected to reduce that risk.


Idaho National Laboratory

Nov. 15: While inspecting material in the Zero Power Physics Reactor work room, sixteen employees were found to be exposed to external radiological contamination. An alarm sounded, work was stopped and the workers exited the area according to procedures. The employees were surveyed for contamination and follow-up observation and treatment provided. An independent DOE investigation into the incident is under way. (NE-ID—BEA-STC-2011-0007).

Operational Summary

Space Battery Launched: Many of the Idaho National Laboratory team members who spent the last few years making the launch possible watched in awe as the Mars Rover Curiosity lifted off recently on the nearly nine month voyage to Mars. The team fueled, tested and assisted in integrating the Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) that is powering Curiosity's instruments as it heads to Mars. The MMTRG is the latest "space battery" that can reliably power a deep space mission for many years.   

DOE-ID Operations Summary Releases

Last updated December 01, 2011

Contact Shannon Brennan