AWE Cardiff, in Llanishen, 3 miles north of Cardiff, Wales, was initially a Royal Ordnance Factory. The facility produced non-fissile components for all United Kingdom nuclear warheads. Nuclear weapon component production started in 1961-63 and continued until the facility closed in 1997. It had a workforce of 400, and metallurgical capabilities for melting and casting, powder production, impact milling, ball milling, hot-pressing, isostatic-pressing, and heat and surface treatment. The facility specialized in high precision components and complex assemblies, including thermonuclear weapon components and beryllium/U-238 tampers for fission primaries. From the late 1970s to the mid-1980s, approximately 7,000-10,000 lb of Beryllium a year were processed in this facility-a volume that has declined gradually in 1992 to approximately 1000 lb. Very little BeO was processed at the facility.
This facility is equipped with offices, change rooms, Be process and handling areas, machine shops, laboratories, and mechanical equipment rooms. The local ventilation system is designed so that air flows from the office area to the change rooms, down a central hallway, and through the various process and laboratory areas. This technique of directing air flow from clean areas through contaminated process areas before passing through the air cleaning device is a recognized standard control method in building design for toxic and radioactive materials. Air entering the facility passes through a roughing filter and a HEPA filter. Each Be processing machine is either partially or completely enclosed and exhausted through the local ventilation system, which has a double stage of HEPA filters. The velocity through the machine enclosure open areas is kept at 50 ft/min. In 1976 a new machine shop; mechanical equipment room; and a high-velocity, low-volume exhaust system with a capture rate that ranges from 6000-8000 fpm (depending on the application) were added to the facility.
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