Savannah River's Ford Building comes down

November 20, 2020, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions

Demolition of the Ford Building at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina has been completed, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) announced on November 18. The large metal storage building formerly contained mechanical systems used during the Cold War to remotely raise and lower control rods within nuclear reactor vessels.

Workers have also sealed the Ford Building’s original concrete flooring with six inches of new concrete. Teardown of the facility brings the number of structures that have been deactivated and decommissioned at the site to 292.

Background: Decades ago, employees at the Ford Building worked daily on hundreds of control rod assemblies, which were used to ensure a stable nuclear criticality within reactor vessels, said Grady Friday, decontamination and decommissioning project lead for SRNS. Made by the Ford Motor Company, these control systems played an important role within the now dormant reactors. “Ford was making more than cars in those days,” Friday said.

Later, the Ford Building was reconfigured to function as a repair facility for nuclear reactor heat exchangers. These devices removed heat from heavy water used to control the temperature within a reactor vessel by transferring the heat to water circulating inside the exchanger.

Obsolete structure: Steve Conner, a project manager with SRNS, said, “We no longer need to incur the ongoing costs associated with maintaining obsolete structures like the Ford Building. We can safely and efficiently demolish unneeded buildings to eliminate the need for surveillance and maintenance, while preventing any potential release of hazardous substances to the environment. These are all good reasons to move forward and prepare for the next building to be safely demolished.”

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