The U.S. Department of Energy is investigating fuel element performance in the High Flux Isotope Reactor, which is used for research and isotope production at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, after elevated radiation levels were found in the cooling system last year, possibly due to a pinhole leak.
The investigation of potential noncompliances with DOE nuclear safety program requirements was announced this month by the DOE Office of Enterprise Assessments’ Office of Enforcement. The office notified UT-Battelle LLC, ORNL’s managing and operating contractor, and BWXT Nuclear Operations Group Inc. of Lynchburg, Virginia, on December 5. BWXT manufactured components that were involved.
ORNL has said the slightly elevated reading in the primary cooling system was well below alarm levels, and there was no impact to the public, the environment, or workers, and the reactor was not damaged or compromised.
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