Heavy Water Components Test Reactor Decommissioning - Major Component Removal

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The Heavy Water Components Test Reactor (HWCTR) facility (Figure 1) was built in 1961, operated from 1962 to 1964, and is located in the northwest quadrant of the Savannah River Site (SRS) approximately three miles from the site boundary. The HWCTR facility is on high, well-drained ground, about 30 meters above the water table. The HWCTR was a pressurized heavy water test reactor used to develop candidate fuel designs for heavy water power reactors. It was not a defense-related facility like the materials production reactors at SRS. The reactor was moderated with heavy water and was rated at 50 megawatts ... continued below

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Austin, W. & Brinkley, D. May 5, 2010.

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  • Savannah River Site (S.C.)
    Publisher Info: Savannah River Site (SRS), Aiken, SC (United States)
    Place of Publication: Aiken, South Carolina

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Description

The Heavy Water Components Test Reactor (HWCTR) facility (Figure 1) was built in 1961, operated from 1962 to 1964, and is located in the northwest quadrant of the Savannah River Site (SRS) approximately three miles from the site boundary. The HWCTR facility is on high, well-drained ground, about 30 meters above the water table. The HWCTR was a pressurized heavy water test reactor used to develop candidate fuel designs for heavy water power reactors. It was not a defense-related facility like the materials production reactors at SRS. The reactor was moderated with heavy water and was rated at 50 megawatts thermal power. In December of 1964, operations were terminated and the facility was placed in a standby condition as a result of the decision by the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission to redirect research and development work on heavy water power reactors to reactors cooled with organic materials. For about one year, site personnel maintained the facility in a standby status, and then retired the reactor in place. In 1965, fuel assemblies were removed, systems that contained heavy water were drained, fluid piping systems were drained, deenergized and disconnected and the spent fuel basin was drained and dried. The doors of the reactor facility were shut and it wasn't until 10 years later that decommissioning plans were considered and ultimately postponed due to budget constraints. In the early 1990s, DOE began planning to decommission HWCTR again. Yet, in the face of new budget constraints, DOE deferred dismantlement and placed HWCTR in an extended surveillance and maintenance mode. The doors of the reactor facility were welded shut to protect workers and discourage intruders. The $1.6 billion allocation from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to SRS for site clean up at SRS has opened the doors to the HWCTR again - this time for final decommissioning. During the lifetime of HWCTR, 36 different fuel assemblies were tested in the facility. Ten of these experienced cladding failures as operational capabilities of the different designs were being established. In addition, numerous spills of heavy water occurred within the facility. Currently, radiation and radioactive contamination levels are low within HWCTR with most of the radioactivity contained within the reactor vessel. There are no known insults to the environment, however with the increasing deterioration of the facility, the possibility exists that contamination could spread outside the facility if it is not decommissioned. An interior panoramic view of the ground floor elevation taken in August 2009 is shown in Figure 2. The foreground shows the transfer coffin followed by the reactor vessel and control rod drive platform in the center. Behind the reactor vessel is the fuel pool. Above the ground level are the polar crane and the emergency deluge tank at the top of the dome. Note the considerable rust and degradation of the components and the interior of the containment building. Alternative studies have concluded that the most environmentally safe, cost effective option for final decommissioning is to remove the reactor vessel, steam generators, and all equipment above grade including the dome. Characterization studies along with transport models have concluded that the remaining below grade equipment that is left in place including the transfer coffin will not contribute any significant contamination to the environment in the future. The below grade space will be grouted in place. A concrete cover will be placed over the remaining footprint and the groundwater will be monitored for an indefinite period to ensure compliance with environmental regulations. The schedule for completion of decommissioning is late FY2011. This paper describes the concepts planned in order to remove the major components including the dome, the reactor vessel (RV), the two steam generators (SG), and relocating the transfer coffin (TC).

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  • ANS Decontamination, Decommissioning, and Reutilization 2010

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  • Report No.: SDD-2010-00018
  • Grant Number: DE-AC09-08SR22470
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 978453
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc928509

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  • May 5, 2010

Added to The UNT Digital Library

  • Nov. 13, 2016, 7:26 p.m.

Description Last Updated

  • May 11, 2018, 10:48 a.m.

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Austin, W. & Brinkley, D. Heavy Water Components Test Reactor Decommissioning - Major Component Removal, article, May 5, 2010; Aiken, South Carolina. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc928509/: accessed November 18, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.