Development of weld closure stations for plutonium long-term storage containers Page: 1 of 12
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R. Fernandez, D.A. Martinez, H.E. Martinez, T.O. Nelson, R.E. Ortega, C.K. Rofer, W.
Romero, J. Stewart, V.L. Trujillo
Los Alamos National Laboratory -
Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545
DEVELOPMENT OF WELD CLOSURE STATIONS FOR PLUTONIUM
LONG-TERM STORAGE CONTAINERS
Abstract: Weld closure stations for plutonium long-term storage containers
have been designed, fabricated, and tested for the Advanced Recovery and
Integrated Extraction System (ARIES) at the TA-55 Plutonium Facility of
the Los Alamos National Laboratory. ARIES is a processing system used
for the dismantlement of the plutonium "pits" from nuclear weapons.
ARIES prepares the extracted-plutonium in a form which is compatible with
long-term storage and disposition options and meets international
inspection requirements. The processed plutonium is delivered to the
canning module of the ARIES line, where it is packaged in a stainless steel
container. This container is then packaged in a secondary container for
long-term storage. Each of the containers is hermetically sealed with a full
penetration weld closure that meets the requirements of the ASME Section
IX Boiler and Pressure Vessel Code. Welding is performed with a gas
tungsten arc process in an inert atmosphere of helium. The encapsulated
helium in the nested containers allows for leak testing the weld closure and
container. The storage package was designed to meet packaging
requirements of DOE Standard 3013-96 for long-term storage of
plutonium metal and oxides. Development of the process parameters, weld
fixture, weld qualification, and the welding chambers is discussed in this
The ARIES processing line is a large barrier and process containment system
composed of diverse controlled environments and processing modules. Processing of
weapon components include the following: introduction to the system, pit disassembly,
plutonium processing as either a metal ingot or an oxide, material packaging that is
acceptable for long-term storage, and Nondestructive Assay (NDA) for plutonium
accountability. An automated conveyor transport system (Martinez, H.E., et al, 1997) is used
to provide material movement to each of the process modules. Airlocks between the process
modules and the conveyor tunnel isolate the various atmospheres. A schematic of the ARIES
line is shown in Fig. 1.
Containers were developed to meet Department of Energy requirements (DOE-STD-
3013-96) for long-term storage of plutonium metal or oxide. The container package consists
of a pair of nested stainless steel cans; an inner can where the material is packaged and a
secondary or outer can that is exposed to the environment. Both can designs are made up of
a can body and lid. Each of the cans is sealed by welding the lid to the can body in an inert
atmosphere of helium Each welding station maintains oxygen and moisture concentration
less than 200 ppm.
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Fernandez, R.; Martinez, D.A.; Martinez, H.E.; Nelson, T.O.; Ortega, R.E.; Rofer, C.K. et al. Development of weld closure stations for plutonium long-term storage containers, article, December 31, 1998; New Mexico. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc685553/m1/1/: accessed October 17, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.