Saturday, December 17, 2011

Criticalities - Have you heard of this?

It almost plays like science-fiction except it's real...

RICHLAND — One of the most contaminated buildings at Hanford, the 209 East Critical Mass Laboratory, has been demolished.

The 8,979-square-foot building was used for more than two decades for research on plutonium and uranium solutions to identify controls for uncontrolled nuclear reactions called criticalities.
After two years of safety preparations, Contractor CH2M HILL Plateau Remediation Company demolished one of the most contaminated facilities at the Hanford Site.

Built in 1960 during the height of the Cold War, the lab was one of three buildings of its type in the nationwide DOE complex. Battelle used the lab at Hanford for experiments to test the criticality limits of radioactive solutions.

The building included an administration section and control area where experiments could be remotely monitored and controlled, plus a contaminated mixing room and a contaminated criticality assembly room.

The lab had highly radioactive tanks, including two underground storage tanks beneath 2.5 feet of concrete.

Two long, narrow tanks — 20 feet long by 2 inches wide and 4 feet high — that were above ground in the lab were used to control solutions to prevent criticalities, said Mike Swartz, deputy project manager.

 Sources: Tri-City Herald and Enformable

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