DOE-Idaho Operations Summary

DOE-ID Bi-Weekly Summary
For the Period February 28, 2012 to March 27, 2012

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

March 8: Three laborers were moving a safe using a dolly at the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Facility when a wheel of the dolly broke through the floor of the building. Two of the laborers suffered back pain from the incident. Movement of all safes was stopped and plywood was put in place over the damaged floor area. (AMWTF-2012-0009).

March 13: A review team identified six areas of concern in the safety documentation in use at the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Facility. The manager of the facility issued an order identifying each of the six areas of concern and establishing interim controls to ensure the safety of personnel and to ensure the facility is safe while the six areas are addressed. (EM-ID—ITG-AMWTF-2012-0010).

March 13: An industrial safety assessment at the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Facility identified ten ratchet-type tie downs that contained suspect/counterfeit fasteners. The suspect parts were removed from service and inspections were continued to ensure that all suspect/counterfeit components are identified and removed from service. (EM-ID—ITG-AMWTF-2012-0011).

March 20: A safety evaluator at the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Facility identified changes that were made in processes at the facility without the required safety evaluation. Use of the procedure was suspended pending the required safety evaluation, and movements of containers that had been repaired or over packed using that procedure were also suspended, pending completion of the required safety evaluation. A review was also ordered of any other procedures that may have been changed without the proper safety review. (EM-ID—ITG-AMWTF-2012-0012). 

Operational Summary

Waste Shipments: Through Dec. 31, 2011, a total of 37,034 cubic meters of stored transuranic waste and 8,248 cubic meters of mixed low-level waste that was previously managed as transuranic waste have been shipped out of Idaho for disposal. Including previously-buried waste, a total of 50,497 cubic meters of waste have been shipped out of the state for disposal.


Idaho Cleanup Project

Feb. 29: During routine testing at the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit, it was determined that a safety disk located in the off-gas piping between the mercury absorbers had ruptured. An investigation was initiated and appropriate notifications made. (EM-ID—CWI-IWTU-2012-0002).

March 13: Reacting to a bulletin, inspectors discovered about two dozen suspect/counterfeit ratchet tie down bolts at various Idaho Cleanup Project facilities. The bolts were removed from service pending disposition. (EM-ID—CWI-INLPROGM-2012-0001).

March 14: Uncovered high-voltage electrical panels were discovered underneath the Power Distribution Center at the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit. The area was barricaded and posted, and a report was entered for follow-up. (EM-ID—CWI-IWTU-2012-0003).

March 15: A fire safety watch removed a fume extractor unit out of the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit processing facility because smoke was coming out of the extractor unit. The flame self-extinguished, and the INL Fire Department responded and confirmed the fire was out. (EM-ID—CWI-IWTU-2012-0004).   

Operational Summary

Spent Fuel Processing: The third shipment of Experimental Breeder Reactor-II spent fuel was completed recently. The project will transfer a total of 227 cask shipments from the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center storage pool to the Materials and
Fuels Complex for processing. The project will be completed ahead of the December 31, 2023 Settlement Agreement date that requires all spent nuclear fuel to be out of wet storage.


Idaho National Laboratory

March 6: As part of the recovery activities from the plutonium exposure event at the Zero Power Physics Reactor, the INL contractor is reviewing the safety documentation for other vulnerabilities based on potential safety issues raised by the event. The contractor believes that additional safety vulnerabilities need to be evaluated because some of the plates have deteriorated over the years and may be damaged, as demonstrated by the exposure event. No immediate action is being taken because facility operations remain limited by the controls put in place after the exposure incident, but potential vulnerabilities are being evaluated. (NE-ID—BEA-ZPPR-2012-0001).

March 6, 7, 13 and 26: On several occasions throughout the period: A “limiting condition for operation” was entered into at the Advanced Test Reactor when it was discovered that confinement door latches for the reactor building had suffered mechanical failures and were not functioning properly. Maintenance personnel temporarily repaired the latches while a long term action is being developed. (NE-ID—BEA-ATR-2012-0007, 0008, 0010 and 0014)

March 7: An operator performing routine inspection rounds noted excessive sparking from a diesel generator at the Advanced Test Reactor. The diesel generator was shut down and declared out of service, while a backup generator was started. (NE-ID—BEA-ATR-2012-0009).

March 13: A small leak was discovered in a cooling water line on a diesel generator at the Advanced Test Reactor. The generator was shut down and the power load shifted to a backup generator. The leaking line was replaced and the generator was placed back into service. (NE-ID—BEA-ATR-2012-0011).

March 16: While performing decontamination and decommissioning activities at the Zero Power Physics Reactor, workers mistakenly cut into 120-volt conductors that were energized. No personnel contacted the hazardous electrical energy source and they were wearing protective gear. All work was stopped, notifications were made and a critique of the incident performed. (NE-ID—BEA-ZPPR-2012-0002).

March 19: Through routine review, it was determined that current safety documentation governing special nuclear materials containers in use at the Fuel Manufacturing Facility at the Materials and Fuels Complex may not be adequate. Additional interim controls were implemented while a formal review of the safety documentation is being conducted. (NE-ID—BEA-FMF-2012-0002).

March 20: At the Advanced Test Reactor, it was discovered that a power supply system was left energized with an exposed and unguarded 120 volt terminal board. Upon discovery, the equipment was immediately de-energized by a technician. The equipment was located on an elevated work platform in a location that is not typically accessed by untrained workers. (NE-ID—BEA-ATR-2012-0012).

March 22: While preparing old shipping casks located at the Materials and Fuels Complex for disposal, technicians discovered radioactive contamination on an inner container. The internal container lid was re-secured and the inner container was placed back inside the cask and secured closed. Work was stopped to evaluate the unexpected contamination and a critique was held. (NE-ID—BEA-MFC-2012-0003).

March 26: The Advanced Test Reactor automatically shut down due to a loss of power to the diesel generator-powered electrical distribution bus. Also, due to the loss of ventilation, an excessive negative pressure was achieved in the ATR building resulting in elevated airborne contamination levels in a buffer area causing air monitors to alarm. Appropriate actions were taken, and following restoration of the ventilation system, airborne contamination levels returned to normal. (NE-ID—BEA-ATR-2012-0013).

Operational Summary

INL Lab Director John Grossenbacher, left, presenting the Early Career Achievement Award to Zalupski.

Nuclear Fuels Research: Rising energy demands and environmental concerns have intensified the search for valuable energy resources. As myriad public and private entities pursue increased efficiency, reliable renewable energy or unconventional fossil fuel reserves, a young Idaho National Laboratory researcher is focused on recycling.

INL Lab Director John Grossenbacher, left, presenting the Early Career Achievement Award to Zalupski.
But INL research scientist Peter Zalupski is taking a modern approach to a mature idea. He's using mathematics and computational science in the quest to mine the most valuable resources from used nuclear fuel. His unique approach and early success recently earned him the 2011 INL Laboratory Director's Award for Early Career Exceptional Achievement, an honor reserved for researchers 35 and younger.


DOE-ID Operations Summary Releases

Last updated March 30, 2012

Contact Shannon Brennan