No injuries reported in transformer fire at salt bath for depleted uranium

No injuries were reported during a fire at a transformer for a salt bath used to heat depleted uranium at the Y-12 National Security Complex in May.

The transformer fire was reported Monday, May 20, in Building 9215 at Y-12. It burned no more than about 25 minutes, according to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. No depleted uranium was being processed at the time of the fire, the board said.

The salt bath heats depleted uranium before metalworking operations.

The DNFSB said the system engineer had stepped away from the salt bath while it was slowly heating to a new temperature, and he noticed the fire after re-entering the area after a supervisor told him about an unusual odor, the DNFSB said. The engineer called 911, and all personnel evacuated the immediate area.

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Y-12 helps NNSA, others eliminate weapons-grade uranium from Indonesia

Anne Harrington

Anne Harrington

The Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge has helped the National Nuclear Security Administration and other agencies eliminate weapons-grade nuclear material from Indonesia, a press release said.

The material was eliminated by “down-blending” highly enriched uranium, or HEU, to low enriched uranium, or LEU. Unlike HEU, LEU cannot be used to make an improvised nuclear device, a press release said.

The work to eliminate the HEU from Indonesia was done through a collaboration between the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration, or DOE/NNSA; Indonesian Nuclear Industry LLC, or PT INUKI; the National Nuclear Energy Agency, or BATAN; and the Nuclear Energy Regulatory Agency, or BAPETEN, of the Republic of Indonesia.

Indonesia is the 30th country plus Taiwan to be declared free of HEU. That’s defined as possessing less than one kilogram of HEU in a country. Indonesia joins fellow Southeast Asian countries Thailand, Vietnam, and the Philippines in working with DOE/NNSA to eliminate all of its weapon-usable nuclear material, an NNSA press release said.

“With this most recent milestone, the entire region of Southeast Asia is now free of HEU,” the press release said. [Read more…]