(Certified Best Practice by BMPCOE)
Department of Energy, Oak Ridge Operations - Oak Ridge, TN
The Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant is tasked to provide nuclear weapon dismantlement. This program has expanded substantially over the last two years, 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 (Figure 4-1) 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 fork lift; are more efficient to stack and store; a greater visibility
of contents which facilitates efficient packing and inventory ease; and the
pans are more durable and totally reusable, thereby eliminating additional
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.
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.