Nuclear Rocket Facility Decommissioning Project: Controlled Explosive Demolition of Neutron-Activated Shield Wall

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Located in Area 25 of the Nevada Test Site (NTS), the Test Cell A (TCA) Facility (Figure 1) was used in the early to mid-1960s for testing of nuclear rocket engines, as part of the Nuclear Rocket Development Program, to further space travel. Nuclear rocket testing resulted in the activation of materials around the reactors and the release of fission products and fuel particles. The TCA facility, known as Corrective Action Unit 115, was decontaminated and decommissioned (D&D) from December 2004 to July 2005 using the Streamlined Approach for Environmental Restoration (SAFER) process, under the Federal Facility Agreement and Consent ... continued below

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Kruzic, Michael R. June 1, 2008.

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Located in Area 25 of the Nevada Test Site (NTS), the Test Cell A (TCA) Facility (Figure 1) was used in the early to mid-1960s for testing of nuclear rocket engines, as part of the Nuclear Rocket Development Program, to further space travel. Nuclear rocket testing resulted in the activation of materials around the reactors and the release of fission products and fuel particles. The TCA facility, known as Corrective Action Unit 115, was decontaminated and decommissioned (D&D) from December 2004 to July 2005 using the Streamlined Approach for Environmental Restoration (SAFER) process, under the Federal Facility Agreement and Consent Order. The SAFER process allows environmental remediation and facility closure activities (i.e., decommissioning) to occur simultaneously, provided technical decisions are made by an experienced decision maker within the site conceptual site model. Facility closure involved a seven-step decommissioning strategy. First, preliminary investigation activities were performed, including review of process knowledge documentation, targeted facility radiological and hazardous material surveys, concrete core drilling and analysis, shield wall radiological characterization, and discrete sampling, which proved to be very useful and cost-effective in subsequent decommissioning planning and execution and worker safety. Second, site setup and mobilization of equipment and personnel were completed. Third, early removal of hazardous materials, including asbestos, lead, cadmium, and oil, was performed ensuring worker safety during more invasive demolition activities. Process piping was to be verified void of contents. Electrical systems were de-energized and other systems were rendered free of residual energy. Fourth, areas of high radiological contamination were decontaminated using multiple methods. Contamination levels varied across the facility. Fixed beta/gamma contamination levels ranged up to 2 million disintegrations per minute (dpm)/100 centimeters squared (cm2) beta/gamma. Removable beta/gamma contamination levels seldom exceeded 1,000 dpm/100 cm2, but, in railroad trenches on the reactor pad containing soil on the concrete pad in front of the shield wall, the beta dose rates ranged up to 120 milli-roentgens per hour from radioactivity entrained in the soil. General area dose rates were less than 100 micro-roentgens per hour. Prior to demolition of the reactor shield wall, removable and fixed contaminated surfaces were decontaminated to the best extent possible, using traditional decontamination methods. Fifth, large sections of the remaining structures were demolished by mechanical and open-air controlled explosive demolition (CED). Mechanical demolition methods included the use of conventional demolition equipment for removal of three main buildings, an exhaust stack, and a mobile shed. The 5-foot (ft), 5-inch (in.) thick, neutron-activated reinforced concrete shield was demolished by CED, which had never been performed at the NTS.

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  • American Nuclear Society 2008 Annual Meeting; June 8-12, 2008; Anaheim, California; Disneyland Hotel: "Nuclear Science and Technology: Now Arriving on Main Street"

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  • Report No.: DOE/NV/25946--350
  • Grant Number: DE-AC52-06NA25946
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 933030
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc897122

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  • June 1, 2008

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  • Sept. 27, 2016, 1:39 a.m.

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  • Oct. 31, 2016, 8:02 p.m.

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Kruzic, Michael R. Nuclear Rocket Facility Decommissioning Project: Controlled Explosive Demolition of Neutron-Activated Shield Wall, article, June 1, 2008; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc897122/: accessed September 19, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.