DOE-Idaho Operations Summary

DOE-ID Bi-Weekly Summary
For the Period Feb. 26, 2013 to Mar. 18, 2013

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 6: During inspection, a drum of transuranic material that was scheduled for super-compaction at the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Facility was determined to contain more fissile material than allowed by safety regulations. The drum was placed in administrative hold, and movement of fissile material in the Treatment Facility was stopped pending an investigation. (EM-ID—ITG-AMWTF-2013-0005).
March 13: During routine quality assurance work, it was determined that a revised procedure in use at the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Facility had not undergone the proper level of review before implementation. Because this was the third instance in the last month that proper review procedures were not followed, management at the facility determined that a comprehensive look at the review process was warranted. (EM-ID—ITG-AMWTF-2013-0006).

Operational Summary

Waste Shipments:  The Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Facility has built 67 “virtual shipments” of transuranic waste (assumed shipments based on volume of certified containers) since the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico shut down for maintenance in January. Waste shipments to WIPP were expected to resume to this month, as the disposal facility reopens.    

Idaho Cleanup Project

March 12: A small insulation fire occurred in one of the CPP-606 boiler house plant air dryers. Personnel were evacuated from the facility, the Idaho National Laboratory Fire Department responded and declared the fire out. There were no injuries or damage to the plant air system. (EM-ID—CWI-LANDLORD-2013-0001).

Operational Summary

Innovative Approach to Treating Sodium: An innovative idea for cleaning up sodium in the decommissioned Experimental Breeder Reactor-II (EBR-II) located at the Materials and Fuels Complex grew out of a morning carpool discussion and evolved into a patented treatment method.
EBR-II, a sodium cooled reactor, was shut down in 1994. Most of the sodium was drained and disposed of, but small amounts remained in the reactor vessel and trapped in piping. The remaining sodium was passivated by blowing moist carbon dioxide through the system. Passivating sodium this way creates a powdery crust of sodium bicarbonate and helps make the sodium safer.

Idaho National Laboratory

Feb. 26: A maintenance technician at the Specific Manufacturing Capability project was recently escorted into an area to perform work using an Engineered Safety Device key control when they crossed into an additional hazard area not under the protection of that safety device. No one was injured.  Management was notified and an investigation into the incident was initiated. (NE-ID—BEA-SMC-2013-0003).
Feb. 26: It was discovered that a safety analysis performed on a seismically-induced shutdown of the Advanced Test Reactor did not consider the potential impact of an experiment failure in the event of such a shutdown. The reactor was shut down for maintenance at the time of this determination, but interim controls that ensure safe operations will be in effect until an evaluation of this factor can be completed. (NE-ID—BEA-ATR-2013-0008).
Feb. 26: It was determined that the core loading for an experimental position in the Advanced Test Reactor was  incorrect because an aluminum filler was installed instead of the stainless steel backup that was specified by the core safety assurance package. The reactor was shut down at the time, and a critique of the event was ordered. (NE-ID—BEA-ATR-2013-0009).
March 7: It was determined that proper procedures were not followed at the Fuel Manufacturing Facility in order to insure criticality safety when the Criticality Alarm System was not operable. No fuel handling operations were going on at the time. Actions were taken to make sure there was not enough fissile material in the area to cause a criticality, limits were placed on the operations at the facility, and a critique was held. (NE-ID—BEA-FMF-2013-0002).
March 11: During his rounds, an employee noted that an overhead heater was arcing and sparking at the Sodium Components Maintenance Shop. The employee pulled the manual fire alarm and exited the facility, but later recognized that the alarm was local and did not alarm complex-wide as expected. He called his supervisor, who notified the Fire Department, who responded immediately to the facility, found no smoke or flames, opened the breaker to the heater which had tripped, and place the heater out of service. It was later determined that maintenance on the associated telephone conductors had occurred earlier in the day and the manual fire alarm retest had not yet been conducted at the time of the heater failure. The alarm system will be repaired to assure it functions properly. (NE-ID—BEA-MFC-2013-0001).

Operational Summary

Reverse Mining for Rare Substances: So-called rare earth elements are deeply embedded in everything from fluorescent light bulbs to smartphones — and they're critical for electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels. Because these materials are subject to supply disruptions, the U.S. Department of Energy is investing in solutions to potential domestic shortages. On Jan. 9, DOE announced the creation of a new Critical Materials Innovation Hub led by the Ames Laboratory.
Idaho National Laboratory scientists will contribute to that effort with expertise from recycling fissionable material from used nuclear fuel rods. They'll now apply similar principles to separate rare earth metals and other critical materials from crushed consumer products. The work could also help improve extraction from the mining process.


DOE-ID Operations Summary Releases

Last updated October 01, 2013

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