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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Key Facilities

Buildings 371 and 374, Plutonium and Waste Treatment Complex

    Building 371, built in 1975, was used for interim storage of SNM and low-level waste processing. Recovery operations originally conducted in the building were terminated due to inadequacies in process performance and poor inventory control reflecting process design deficiencies. Operation of the Caustic Waste Treatment System was planned for late 1996 to support liquid stabilization. Preparations and upgrades for solid residue processing are ongoing. Analytical laboratory activities and standards development were ongoing at that time. Efforts were also under way to determine the suitability and preparation needed for interim storage of most of the SNM remaining at RFETS in Building 371.

    In 1993, DOE proposed moving most of the RFETS SNM inventory into Building 371 for interim storage until final disposition. Building 371 was the newest of the plutonium buildings and was considered to be the most structurally sound building at RFETS. In 1994, the DNFSB concluded that activities under way to prepare Building 371 for its extended role in storage of plutonium were not logically structured and were not comprehensive enough in either detail or scope to assure adequate protection of safety and health. As a result, the DNFSB issued Recommendation 94-3, Rocky Flats Seismic and System Safety. RFFO established an implementation plan to address this recommendation. RFFO activities to support the plan included investigating and analyzing the seismic adequacy of Building 371 operations, and evaluating other options for interim SNM storage. Seismic improvements were made and additional upgrades were planned in accordance with the 94-3 Implementation Plan. The site was also evaluating two other options for interim plutonium disposition. One option involved sending Category I and II material to the DOE Savannah River Site. A second option, featured in the draft ten-year plan, involved the construction of a new passive storage vault at RFETS. The site was continuing with development activities associated with that option (i.e., conceptual design, cost projections); a final decision on the new vault option was anticipated by FY 1998.

    Building 374, built in 1980, treated (1) low-level radioactive liquid process wastes, such as nitric acid and sodium hydroxide solutions; and (2) low-level radioactive liquids, such as laundry waste and process cooling and steam condensate. The final products were dry sludge, salt, and distilled water.

Building 559, Plutonium Analytical Lab

    Building 559 was built in 1968 as an analytical laboratory to support plutonium processing operations. Its principal mission was analyzing gaseous, liquid, and solid samples to quantify major components, including isotopes, alloying agents, and impurities. Building 559 was a fully operational analytical laboratory providing identification, characterization, and analysis of process-related waste forms generated at RFETS. In addition, the lab provided analytical support to SNM management projects.

Building 707/707A, Plutonium Production

    Building 707, built in 1970, was originally a manufacturing facility for casting, fabricating, and assembling finished plutonium parts (as well as parts made of other materials) into nuclear weapons components. Operations were suspended in 1989. Building 707A was added as part of a 1972 modification. The mission for Building 707/707A in the mid-1990s was thermal stabilization, inspection, brushing, and repackaging of plutonium. Plutonium was stored in the building on an interim basis. Glovebox deactivation activities were ongoing. Preparations and upgrades for solid residue processing were also ongoing.

Building 771 and 774, Plutonium Recovery and Liquid Waste Treatment Building

    Building 771 was built in 1951 and designed for plutonium recovery from scrap/residue materials. Recovery operations were terminated in 1989. The facility was then used for: the interim storage of large quantities of SNM and waste; laboratory analysis; HEPA filter counting; low specific activity counting; and conduct of risk reduction activities (low-level tank draining, bottle venting). The building also solidified ion-exchange resins through cementation and utilizes microwave vitrification for solid residue treatment. Building 774, also built in 1951, was used for low-level liquid waste treatment operations.

Building 776 and 777, Plutonium Manufacturing and Assembly Complex

    The Building 776/777 complex was built in 1957, and until Building 707 became operational in 1970 was the major plutonium fabrication and assembly facility. Operations in the building were shut down for several months in 1969 after a major fire, and production operations remain shutdown. Large amounts of plutonium were stored at the facility. Waste operations (initiated in 1969 to support disposition of both equipment damaged by fire, and waste generated in the cleanup efforts) were ongoing in the late 1990s. The Supercompactor and size-reduction facilities were used to minimize the total volume of radioactive waste at the complex. Building 776 housed drums containing plutonium residue and supported drum venting activities to prevent the buildup of hydrogen gas. Building 777 was designated as a packaging, storage, and shipping facility. Structural integrity concerns were identified in Buildings 776/777 associated with the former operation of Kathabar dehumidifiers.

Building 779, Plutonium Development Building

    Building 779, built in 1965, was constructed for plutonium research activities involving process chemistry technology, physical metallurgy, machining and gauging, joining technology, and hydrating operations. All activities were terminated in 1989. The facility was then used for storing SNM and waste. Glovebox activities in support of plutonium storage included inspection, metal brushing, and repackaging. Limited laboratory activities included waste characterization and minimization, stockpile reliability evaluations, and surface analysis. The building was cleared of Category I and II SNM.

Building 886, Critical Mass Laboratory

    Building 886, constructed in 1965, contained a critical mass laboratory that was used to conduct criticality experiments in support of process operations. Most experiments were conducted using highly concentrated and enriched uranyl nitrate solutions. Solid uranium and plutonium were also used. Criticality experiments were conducted until 1987. The facility was shut down in 1989. There are no active operations in Building 886.

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Page last modified: 24-07-2011 03:42:51 ZULU