Federal site cleanup workers reported in August that they had begun removing contaminated sludge and debris from tanks, sumps, and valve boxes at Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s liquid and gaseous waste operations using a powerful, new trailer-mounted vacuum.
The equipment has already enhanced safety and operational efficiency, according to the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management.
“Without the vacuum, personnel would be required to fully dress in personal protective equipment and remove the sludge and debris with shovels and buckets,” DOE said. “In addition to being closer to contaminated materials in confined spaces, workers would face an increased chance of slips and falls while climbing in and out of slippery areas in the protective suits.”
Using the vacuum technology has eliminated the risk of heat stress for employees, who would otherwise perform manual labor in protective suits during the hot Tennessee summer, DOE said. [Read more…]