Workers have demolished a nuclear reactor that was built at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the 1950s for studies that were part of the federal aircraft nuclear propulsion program.
It’s the first demolition of a reactor in the ORNL central campus area. The demolition was reported to be completed ahead of schedule.
The Bulk Shielding Reactor, also known as Building 3010, was built in the 1950s for radiation shielding studies as part of the federal aircraft nuclear propulsion program. It included a 27-foot-deep reactor pool filled with water to shield the radioactive components contained in the pool, according to the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management. Its mission changed to a general-purpose research reactor in 1963, and it was shut down permanently in 1991.
The reactor was demolished by cleanup contractor UCOR, working for DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM).
“I’m proud of the pace of progress our crews achieved since demolition began in September,” said Nathan Felosi, ORNL portfolio federal project director for OREM. “Removing Building 3010 is a significant accomplishment for our program because it kicks off our efforts to start eliminating aging reactor facilities located in the heart of ORNL.”
Work continues at the reactor site to finish reducing the size of debris from the demolition and to haul debris to a disposal facility. Workers will complete packaging and disposal of the 250 truckloads of waste and debris generated by this project by the end of November, DOE said.
“This major milestone in UCOR’s cleanup history took place because of the skill and dedication of our craft workforce and our dedicated support groups who ensure our craft have the programs, procedures, and tools in place to safely accomplish their mission,” said Dan Macias, UCOR’s site integration and cleanup manager.
One of the most important pre-demolition activities involved removing and disposing irradiated components from the reactor pool. After those tasks, workers drained the 130,000 gallons of the water from the pool and sent it to an onsite treatment facility. Then the pool area was decontaminated and filled with a concrete mixture to close it, DOE said.
In addition to stabilizing the reactor pool, workers removed asbestos and other waste from the facility.
The Bulk Shielding Reactor was one of more than a dozen research reactors constructed at ORNL over multiple decades.
“Each contributed to ORNL’s reputation as a world leader in cutting-edge nuclear research and development,” DOE said.
The facility was one of 16 inactive research reactors and isotope facilities that EM is addressing at ORNL.
Crews are continuing deactivation and demolition preparations at the adjacent Low Intensity Test Reactor, known as Building 3005, and Oak Ridge Research Reactor. Both are slated for near-term demolition, further transforming ORNL, reducing risks, and clearing land for expanding research missions at the site.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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