Final hot cell at former Oak Ridge lab prepared for demolition

October 14, 2021, 3:03PMRadwaste Solutions
A view of the final remaining hot cell at the former Radioisotope Development Laboratory at Oak Ridge National Laboratory as it is prepared for demolition. (Photo: DOE)

Using a specialized radiation detector, Department of Energy cleanup contractor UCOR is characterizing a hot cell at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in preparation for its demolition. The detector overlays a radiation-intensity color-map on a picture of the environment and identifies gamma-emitting nuclides and their locations.

The cell is the last of six hot cells to be deactivated and demolished at the former Radioisotope Development Laboratory at ORNL. The work is being conducted under a six-story protective structure erected last year to ensure that nearby facilities and ongoing research missions at the site aren’t impacted by the cleanup.

He said it: “Removing the remnants of the former Radioisotope Development Laboratory has been a priority for several years,” Said Nathan Felosi, ORNL’s portfolio federal project director. “Its removal next year will eliminate a high-risk structure in the heart of ORNL and clears space for continuing science missions at the site.”

The work: As announced by the DOE’s Office of Environmental Management, steps taken to enable characterization work include removing a wooden membrane covering the roof, installing and testing fire suppression and detection systems, placing gravel over the exposed floor to reduce dust inside the protective cover, and installing a negative air machine to provide localized ventilation during characterization and future deactivation.

“Demolishing contaminated structures requires a lot of preparation to safely complete the demolition,” said Dan Macias, environmental cleanup program manager for the Oak Ridge Reservation. “The removal of this hot cell is another significant step forward in ongoing cleanup activities at ORNL.”

The outer structure of the Radioisotope Development Laboratory was previously demolished, and the lab’s fifth hot cell was removed earlier this year. The laboratory dates back to the Manhattan Project, and its six hot cells were used to process radioisotopes from Oak Ridge’s Graphite Reactor and other reactors.

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