Large reactor ship shipped to Utah from Oak Ridge National Lab

Complete the cleanup of the reactor demolition site


Employees of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Environmental Management (EM) have completed cleanup efforts associated with the demolition of a large reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Last fall, workers completed the demolition of the low-intensity test reactor and the removal of rubble and debris from the facility, achieving EM priority this year. However, the reactor vessel remained on the building's footprint until it could be shipped off-site for final disposal.

In April, employees loaded the 30-foot-long, 37,600-pound vessel onto a truck and shipped it to a facility in Clive, Utah, for final disposal.

The reactor, known as Building 3005, was built in 1949 as a criticality test facility that used highly enriched fuel with water as a coolant. It was in operation until 1968. Researchers used the reactor for numerous experiments over the years, and the core was frequently reconfigured to conduct these experiments.

EM cleanup contractor UCOR characterized and sampled the reactor and used multiple modeling software programs to develop the final characterization. This allowed employees to figure out how to safely transport and dispose of the reactor.

“Completing the decontamination and transporting the reactor vessel for disposal is a major accomplishment that presented technical difficulties and placed a particular emphasis on safety to complete the cleanup at the Building 3005 site,” said UCOR Project Manager Greg McGinnis.

Workers refilled the pit from which the ship was removed and made necessary repairs to the base.

“Completing these final tasks is critical to our ongoing efforts at ORNL,” said Jim Daffron, acting federal project director for the ORNL portfolio. “Clearing and backfilling this area will provide our crews with a staging area to support safe and efficient demolition for our next two major projects.”

Workers deactivate the Graphite Reactor and Oak Ridge Research Reactor support facilities adjacent to the Low Intensity Test Reactor and Bulk Shielding Reactor footprints.

These projects continue EM's mission to eliminate risk and transform the heart of ORNL to enable future research missions and growth at the site.

Carolyn Hendrycks is a member of the UCOR communications team.

Anna Harden

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