Hot components removed from ORNL reactor pool

IMG_0081A shipping cask containing four highly radioactive components removed from the reactor pool at the old Oak Ridge Research Reactor are loaded onto a truck for transportation to Waste Control Specialists in Texas. (UCOR photograph)

UCOR, the Department of Energy’s cleanup manager in Oak Ridge, said today that four irradiated components have been removed from the reactor pool at the Oak Ridge Research Reactor as part of a project to deal with a pool leak discovered last year at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

According to information released by UCOR (URS-CH2M Oak Ridge), the four items removed from the pool weighed about 200 pounds each. Collectively, those components were the source of about 96 percent of the radiation in the pool, which contained about 125,000 gallons of water for shielding.

“These items were moved by long-handled tools into a container that had been placed in the pool,” UCOR said. “The container was then retrieved and moved by crane into a shipping cask set up next to the pool.”

UCOR has been managing the work with subcontractor support from AREVA.

In a statement released by the DOE contractor, project manager Paul Larson said, “The removal was completed safely and efficiently, allowing us to move on to the next step in addressing the pool seep. Removing these components has eliminated a major risk factor as this project progresses.”

UCOR said the next step will be placing a concrete cap over the pool to act as shielding for the components that remain the pool. The water will then be pumped from the pool and sent to an ORNL treatment facility.

The water removal will take several weeks, according to UCOR. The project is expected to be completed in early 2016.

The shipping cask that contains the hot components reportedly weighs about 80,000 pounds. It was sealed and is being transported to the Waste Control Specialists disposal facility in Texas.

The Oak Ridge Research Reactor, once a workhorse for nuclear research activities at ORNL, has been shut down since the late 1980s. It is scheduled for eventual decommissioning and demolition in the 2030s.

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