Annual checkup at 9212: good and not so good

9212An annual review of conditions at Y-12’s 9212 uranium complex did not find any safety problems that would warrant limiting operations at the World War II-era facility, according to a newly released memo by staff of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. It reportedly noted some accomplishments over the past year, such as establishing an administrative limit for “material at risk” in 9212.

However, the review by the Continued Safe Operability Oversight Team (CSOOT) did note continuing concerns about the “growing maintenance backlog” of equipment at the key uranium-processing facility at the Oak Ridge plant, the Aug. 7 memo by the DNFSB staff states.

“The (CSOOT) report notes improvements to maintenance planning and execution processes but the maintenance backlog for enriched uranium operations has grown by 15 percent,” the memo to safety board headquarters states. “The CSOOT is concerned that operating with known material issues could degrade safety and recommends an increase in designated facility maintenance, engineering and production support personnel to slow the growth of this backlog.”

The memo further states that the site manager for Y-12 contractor Consolidated Nuclear Security addressed this recommendation by promising to establish “a dedicated maintenance team” to cover certain areas of 9212 — the main facility for processing weapons-grade uranium.

“Wet chemistry and metal production areas are to serve as the pilot for this team,” the safety board memo said. The special maintenance team is to be created by Oct. 1.

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.