Historical review of plutonium storage container failures at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

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As part of the DOE Plutonium Vulnerability Assessment, an investigation was made to characterize the can failures at LLNL. Since the LLNL Plutonium Facility was opened for plutonium operations in 1961, there have only been three can failures that could be remembered by plutonium handlers, vault workers, chemical analysts, and material managers. Only one of these can failures was discovered during the processing of more than 606 packages containing plutonium as part of the LLNL Plutonium Inventory Reduction Program. A very low failure rate, especially since some of the 606 cans had been in storage for two to three decades. ... continued below

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15 p.

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Dodson, K. E. May 1994.

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Description

As part of the DOE Plutonium Vulnerability Assessment, an investigation was made to characterize the can failures at LLNL. Since the LLNL Plutonium Facility was opened for plutonium operations in 1961, there have only been three can failures that could be remembered by plutonium handlers, vault workers, chemical analysts, and material managers. Only one of these can failures was discovered during the processing of more than 606 packages containing plutonium as part of the LLNL Plutonium Inventory Reduction Program. A very low failure rate, especially since some of the 606 cans had been in storage for two to three decades. Two of the three containers that failed were made of aluminum and were packaged with 1.25 inch diameter plutonium metal spheres. The cans were split down their entire length and the plutonium metal was heavily oxidized. The secondary gallon container of the third package failure was found to be imploded in the storage vault. Upon closer examination, the plastic bags around the inner pint can were badly melted and the lid on the can was loose. Like the other two failures, the metal was heavily oxidized. In all three of the can failures, it is theorized that air entered the inner can through incomplete sealing and the oxygen in the air then reacted with the plutonium metal to produce plutonium oxide. Air was supplied to the inner can by permeation through the surrounding plastic bag. The air could have either diffused through the bag or could have been pumped through the twisted and taped ends of the inner most bag. The inner bags and cans were packaged into second bags and cans in an air atmosphere; therefore, trapping air inside the packaging configuration that could have passed through the bags. A failure of the inner can integrity would be necessary for the air to pass into it. In all three LLNL can failure cases, it is believed that the seal of the inner can was not sufficient to prevent a breach of the can environment.

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15 p.

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OSTI as DE95017263

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  • Other Information: PBD: May 1994

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  • Other: DE95017263
  • Report No.: UCRL-ID--117333
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • DOI: 10.2172/104994 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 104994
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc624051

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Office of Scientific & Technical Information Technical Reports

Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

Office of Scientific and Technical Information (OSTI) is the Department of Energy (DOE) office that collects, preserves, and disseminates DOE-sponsored research and development (R&D) results that are the outcomes of R&D projects or other funded activities at DOE labs and facilities nationwide and grantees at universities and other institutions.

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  • May 1994

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  • June 16, 2015, 7:43 a.m.

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  • Feb. 23, 2016, 1:41 p.m.

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Dodson, K. E. Historical review of plutonium storage container failures at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, report, May 1994; California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc624051/: accessed November 22, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.