Replacement of HEPA Filters at the LANL CMR Facility: Risks Reduced by Comprehensive Waste Characterization
Description: In March 2001, the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) completed the replacement of 720 radioactively contaminated HEPA filters for $5.7M. This project was completed five months ahead of schedule and $6.0M under budget with no worker injuries or contaminations. Numerous health and safety, environmental, and waste disposal problems were overcome, including having to perform work in a radioactively contaminated work environment, that was also contaminated with perchlorates (potential explosive). High waste disposal costs were also an issue. A project risk analysis and government cost estimate determined that the cost of performing the work would be $11.8M. To reduce risk, a $1.2M comprehensive condition assessment was performed to determine the degree of toxic and radioactive contamination trapped on the HEPA filters; and to determine whether explosive concentrations of perchlorates were present. Workers from LANL and personnel from Waldheim International of Knoxville, TN collected hundreds of samples wearing personnel protective gear against radioactive, toxic, and explosive hazards. LANL also funded research at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology to determine the explosivity of perchlorates. The data acquired from the condition assessment showed that toxic metals, toxic organic compounds, and explosive concentrations of perchlorates were absent. The data also showed that the extent of actinide metal contamination was less than expected, reducing the potential of transuranic waste generation by 50%. Consequently, $4.2M in cost savings and $1.8M in risk reduction were realized by increased worker productivity and waste segregation.
Date: February 28, 2002
Creator: Corpion, J.; Barr, A.; Martinez, P. & Bader, M.
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