Hanford uses 3D scanning to help prep for demolitions

June 13, 2023, 12:00PMRadwaste Solutions
This image of the PUREX plant was used to demonstrate how a 3D laser scanning tool could capture the layout of facilities being prepared for demolition. (Image: DOE)

A team of designers from Central Plateau Cleanup Company (CPCCo), a contractor of the DOE-EM Richland Operations Office, is using 3D laser scanning technology to gather data to help workers prepare some of the facilities at the Hanford Site for demolition.

3D laser images of the REDOX plant were used to identify safe locations for cutting into a concrete wall. (Image: DOE)

In detail: The process uses laser light to capture information about the surface and shape of an object from different perspectives. Millions of data points are collected, and that information is blended with high-quality photos to create scans capable of highlighting the smallest surface detail.

The high level of detail allows designers to build the most accurate 3D computer models possible, according to the Department of Energy. Those models provide an exact layout of a facility and its contents, including flanges, pipelines, tanks, valves—even nuts and bolts.

“Anytime we can capture comprehensive layout and configuration data in hazardous areas, some of which have not been explored in decades, that’s a big win for worker safety,” said Mark French, division director for the DOE–Office of Environmental Management’s Central Plateau Cleanup Project at Hanford, in Washington state. “When workers are required to make physical entries, knowing system layouts and configurations allows for robust planning, which reduces risk and makes the job more efficient.”

The projects: CPCCo is deploying the 3D technology at cleanup projects across Hanford’s Central Plateau, including at the Plutonium Uranium Extraction Plant (PUREX), the Waste Encapsulation and Storage Facility (WESF), and the Reduction-Oxidation Plant (REDOX). The data help with the development of work packages, sampling plans, and demolition preparation and can be used to conduct virtual walk-throughs of facilities.

At PUREX, crews are using digital models of tanks, structures, pipelines, and ancillary equipment to support ongoing cleanup activities. At WESF, 3D scanning assisted with design modifications to the building to help crews prepare for installation of equipment that will transport nearly 2,000 radioactive capsules from underwater pools in the aging facility to a new dry-storage pad. At REDOX, the technology was used to establish locations for workers to cut into a concrete wall to install a new roll-up door, which will enable the removal of contaminated equipment as the facility is being prepared for demolition.

“We want to show our crews what the facilities look like right now; we want to eliminate the unknowns,” said Stephen Papenfuss, CPCCo designer and engineer with the Inner Area End States team. “In the past, the projects have had to rely on old pictures and drawings that can take a long time to find and might not best represent conditions inside the facilities today. With the 3D images and models, everybody can be working off the same, up-to-date information.”

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