A container holding plutonium-bearing materials is placed inside an outer container. A number of these containers at SRS go through examinations each year to look for signs of degradation.
AIKEN, S.C. – The EM program at the Savannah River Site (SRS) recently completed an annual process in K Area that validates the site’s ongoing commitment to maintaining the safety and security of nuclear materials stored there.
The mission of K Area is the receipt and safe storage of nuclear materials. Safe storage is validated through the yearly examination of the containers that hold plutonium-bearing materials, called 3013 containers. The examinations to look for signs of degradation have been performed in each of the past seven years to support EM’s 3013 Surveillance Program. The program set the criteria for stabilizing plutonium-bearing materials at EM facilities to safe and stable forms for packaging and placement in storage with minimal surveillance for up to 50 years.
Plutonium material arrives in K Area in 3013 containers. To ensure the 3013 standard is met, the Materials Identification and Surveillance working group — comprised of employees from the DOE complex — surveys a number of the containers each year. The containers are placed inside the K Area Interim Surveillance glove box, which allows employees to open the containers to gather samples of the oxide, the container itself, and gasses inside the container. These samples are then sent to EM’s Savannah River National Laboratory (SRNL), which is part of DOE’s network of national laboratories, for testing and evaluation.
“We are being proactive in making sure the nuclear materials are stored in a safe manner,” K Area Complex Surveillance Program Authority and MIS Representative Beth Hackney said.
The samples from the nine containers examined this year will be analyzed at SRNL for any indication of degradation. The results will allow the working group to ensure the integrity of 3013 containers is maintained.