Orano completes removal of Crystal River-3 RPV

December 11, 2023, 6:58AMRadwaste Solutions

The first piece of Crystal River-3’s reactor pressure vessel is lifted from the reactor cavity. (Photo: Orano)

The cutting and conditioning of the reactor pressure vessel (RPV) and internals belonging to the pressurized water reactor at the Crystal River-3 nuclear power plant in Florida has been completed, the Orano Group has announced. Finished in under two years, removal of the RPV marks the conclusion of the plant’s dismantling and spent fuel management project, which began in 2021.

Crystal River-3 is being decommissioned by Advanced Decommissioning Partners (ADP), a joint venture of Orano and NorthStar Group Services. Duke Energy transferred the licenses for Crystal River-3 to ADP in October 2020 for accelerated decommissioning.

Optimized process: Orano’s Dismantling and Services teams carried out the cutting and conditioning of the reactor vessel and primary circuit components using a patented segmentation process called “optimized segmentation,” according to the company.

Using the process, the reactor vessel was removed in three pieces, with the segmented internal components packaged inside each section as low-level radioactive waste. Orano noted that this method limited the amount of waste required for transport and disposal.

The irradiating parts of the reactor core, including the vessel’s internal equipment, were cut up under water and by remote control to limit the dose exposure to workers.

The lifting: Orano was assisted with the extraction of the sectioned 10-meter tall, 540-ton nuclear reactor by heavy-lifting company Mammoet, which said it had prior knowledge of the facility after previously completing a steam generator replacement at the same location.

Using a custom-installed jack system spanning the inside of the reactor containment building, Mammoet’s crew lifted the two heaviest RPV segments out of the reactor well and lowered each one down through the reactor building into a customized package on the ground level for transport to fWaste Control Specialists site in Andrews County, Texas, for final disposal.

The reactor vessel removal was completed with a quicker, more cost-effective, and more efficient solution using the jack system’s greater lifting power and minimal required space to position the equipment inside an already congested containment area, according to Mammoet.

They said it: “The completion of this project in such a short timeframe and employing an innovative process bears testimony to Orano’s proficiency in carrying out cleanup and dismantling projects in the United States,” said Jean-Christophe Patout, senior executive vice president in charge of Orano’s Dismantling and Services activities.

Sidney King, Mammoet project manager, stated, “Mammoet put together an expert team with decades of nuclear experience to assemble and operate the TLD/HTS strand jack system for our client. Execution of the lifts were performed flawlessly, and it is exciting to see the experience, technical expertise, and Mammoet’s innovative thinking come together to be a part of this historic moment in nuclear decommissioning.”


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