Original Date: 11/03/1996
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Improved Handling of Recycled Materials
The Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant is tasked to provide nuclear weapon dismantlement. This program has expanded substantially, generating tremendous quantities of material for recycling. Existing recycle systems were initially inadequate and inefficient when the flow of returned materials increased by orders of magnitude.
In the recycled depleted uranium stream, this large flow of metal created new problems and exacerbated existing problems concerning employee health and safety, adequate storage of material, and disposal of waste products. Handling this material consisted of disassembly, placing the material into 55 gallon drums sent to the scrap processing area, then sending it to the warehouse for storage, and on to the foundry to cast into billets. Finally, the material was sent back to the warehouse for storage. Most of the drums proved inadequate and were crushed, scratched, or dropped during the awkward handling of the drums. The drums were then contaminated and had to be treated before disposal, adding another problem. In addition, a fire hazard associated with dumping uranium out of drums needed to be eliminated.
The solution to these handling problems came by expanding the use of tote pans for all depleted uranium storage and handling. The tote pan is a low, rectangular, heavy duty container with built-in forklift and stacking features, and through further design enhancements, also includes locking rings for the pan. Some pans were also made deeper. By using these tote pans, there has been minimized personal injury and fire hazards; the pans are easier to transport with a forklift; are more efficient to stack and store; have a greater visibility of contents which facilitates efficient packing and inventory ease; and the pans are more durable and totally reusable, thereby eliminating additional drum disposal.
An improved structured process flow was also implemented, routing all recycled depleted uranium to the scrap processing area where the proper storing and staging functions are performed. The filled totes are sent directly to the foundry, then on to the warehouse. This process flow eliminated an additional trip to the warehouse, thus decreasing the number of handling steps with resulting employee safety.
Expanding the use of tote pans and the changes in the recycle process flow have corrected many problems in personal health and safety, reduced storage requirements for materials returned to the Y-12 Plant from weapon dismantlements, minimized a waste stream for contaminated 55 gallon drums, and resulted in more efficient recycling operations of depleted uranium.
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