A modern depleted uranium manufacturing facility Page: 3 of 11
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The Specific Manufacturing Capabilities (SMC) Project located at the Idaho National
Engineering Laboratory (INEL) and operated by Lockheed Martin Idaho Technologies Co.
(LMIT) for the Department of Energy (DOE) manufactures depleted uranium for use in the U.S.
Army M1A2 Abrams Heavy Tank Armor Program. Since 1986, SMC has fabricated more than
12 million pounds of depleted uranium (DU) products in a multitude of shapes and sizes with
varying metallurgical properties while maintaining security, environmental, health and safety
The SMC project began in 1983 as a 'black' project with strict national security requirements.
The high level of project security and classification impacted initial facility construction by
limiting communication with other depleted uranium manufacturing facilities. As a result, many
aspects of facility construction were based on a best effort design that has proven over time to
be successful in maintaining security, safety and radiation control.
During the time of initial facility design in the early 1980's, emphasis on employee safety,
radiation control and environmental consciousness was gaining momentum throughout the DOE
complex. This fact coupled with security and production requirements forced design efforts to
focus on incorporating automation, local containment and computerized material accountability
at all work stations. The result was a state-of-the-art (at that time), fully automated production
facility engineered to manufacture DU armor packages with virtually no human contact while
maintaining security, traceability and quality requirements. This hands off approach to handling
depleted uranium resulted in minimal radiation exposures and employee injuries.
Construction of the manufacturing facility was complete in early 1986 with the first armor
package certified in October 1986. Rolling facility construction was completed in 1987 with the
first certified plate produced in the fall of 1988. Since 1988 the rolling and manufacturing
facilities have delivered more than 2600 armor packages on schedule with 100% final product
quality acceptance. During this period there was an annual average of only 2.2 lost time
incidents and a single individual maximum radiation exposure of 150 mrem.
SMC is an example of designing and operating a facility that meets regulatory requirements with
respect to national security, radiation control and personnel safety while achieving production
schedules and product quality.
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Zagula, T.A. A modern depleted uranium manufacturing facility, article, July 1, 1995; Idaho Falls, Idaho. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc673227/m1/3/: accessed January 20, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.