Programmatic operations at the Los Alamos National Laboratory Plutonium Facility (TA-55) involve working with various amounts of plutonium and other highly toxic, alpha-emitting materials. The spread of radiological contamination on surfaces, airborne contamination, and excursions of contaminants into the operator’s breathing zone are prevented through use of a variety of gloveboxes (the glovebox, coupled with an adequate negative pressure gradient, provides primary confinement). Size-reduction operations on glovebox equipment are a common activity when a process has been discontinued and the room is being modified to support a new customer. The Actinide Processing Group at TA-55 uses one-meter or longer glass columns to process plutonium. Disposal of used columns is a challenge, since they must be size-reduced to get them out of the glovebox. The task is a high-risk operation because the glass shards that are generated can puncture the bag-out bags, leather protectors, glovebox gloves, and the worker’s skin when completing the task. One of the Lessons Learned from these operations is that Laboratory management should critically evaluate each hazard and provide more effective measures to prevent personnel injury. A bag made of puncture-resistant material was one of these enhanced controls. We have investigated the effectiveness of these bags and have found that they safely and effectively permit glass objects to be reduced to small pieces with a plastic or rubber mallet; the waste can then be easily poured into a container for removal from the glovebox as non-compactable transuranic (TRU) waste. This size-reduction operation reduces solid TRU waste volume generation by almost 2-1/2 times. Replacing one-time-use bag-out bags with multiple-use glass crushing bags also contributes to reducing generated waste. In addition, significant costs from contamination, cleanup, and preparation of incident documentation are avoided. This effort contributes to the Los Alamos National Laboratory Continuous Improvement Program by improving the efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and formality of glovebox operations. In this report, the technical issues, associated with implementing this process improvement are addressed, the results discussed, effectiveness of Lessons Learned evaluated, and waste savings presented.
- Nuclear Engineering Division and Environmental Engineering Division
Transuranic (TRU) Waste Volume Reduction Operation at a Plutonium Facility
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Cournoyer, ME, Nixon, AE, Fife, KW, Sandoval, AM, Garcia, VE, & Dodge, RL. "Transuranic (TRU) Waste Volume Reduction Operation at a Plutonium Facility." Proceedings of the ASME 2010 13th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management. ASME 2010 13th International Conference on Environmental Remediation and Radioactive Waste Management, Volume 2. Tsukuba, Japan. October 3–7, 2010. pp. 313-319. ASME. https://doi.org/10.1115/ICEM2010-40132
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