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2 | APPLIED | WINTER 2019 | SAVANNAH RIVER NATIONAL LABORATORY





























                                                     Pu-238 pellet                                  PuFF facility shielded cells

        Cleanup technologies







        SRNL facilitates cleanup of building that produced fuel for U.S. space program





                                                        econtamination technologies and approaches developed by SRNL are
        SRNL technologies                               facilitating the cleanup of the Plutonium Fuel Form (PuFF) facility within
                                                        Building 235-F at SRS. The PuFF facility was designed and operated
        • Remote radiation mapping                      to manufacture spheres and pellets of plutonium-238 (Pu-238) to
                                                        power deep-space missions for the National Aeronautics and Space
        • Tools to overcome                             Administration (NASA) from the late 1970s through the 1980s.
          physical constraints
                                          Building 235-F is a two-story, blast-resistant, windowless, reinforced concrete structure.
        • Equipment and material          With the exception of residual contamination, 235-F was de-inventoried of special
          to mitigate radiological        nuclear material and subsequently operated in surveillance and maintenance mode after
          hazards during                  1988. 235-F houses several partially deactivated processing lines, but the PuFF facility
          decontamination activities      contains more than 95 percent of the estimated 1,500 grams of residual Pu-238, with
        • Removal and analysis            approximately 82 percent concentrated in two of the nine PuFF facility cells.
          of first material-at-risk       In 2012, SRNS, the site’s management and operating contractor, undertook the 235-F
          from PuFF cells                 Risk Reduction Project, which is expected to complete in 2021.
                                          SRNL has worked with the 235-F Risk Reduction team from the beginning of the
                                          project to describe the Pu-238 contamination in the facility and to identify existing or
                                          develop new tools and technologies to ensure that the facility can be decontaminated
                                          safely and efficiently.
                                          The long half-life of Pu-238 (87.7 years) that makes it ideal for fueling deep-space missions
                                          also makes the residual contamination in the PuFF facility a potent hazard. In addition,
                                          much of the residual Pu-238 contamination is in a highly dispersible fine ball-milled powder
                                          form, which increases the potential for radiological exposure to workers if decontamination
                                          activities disturb the particles as well as to a broader population if a fire or natural hazard
                                          event causes loss of containment in the aging building.
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