Friday, February 9, 2007

Cleanup continues at INL

Public comments sought on DOE plan


Public comment is being taken on a significant aspect of the cleanup project at Idaho National Laboratory, near Idaho Falls.

The U.S. Department of Energy, in cooperation with the state of Idaho and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is seeking comment through March 11 on the proposed disposition of the "Hot Shop" facility, also called TAN-607, at an INL test area.

The work is being conducted as part of the Idaho Cleanup Project.

The Idaho Cleanup Project, funded through the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Environmental Management, targets waste generated from munitions testing, government-owned research and defense reactors, laboratory research, and defense missions at other DOE sites.

The "Hot Shop" was built in 1954 to support research related to the Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion project, according to a news release issued by CH2M-WG Idaho LLC, which is overseeing the cleanup efforts.

The test area was originally designed to handle work on highly radioactive components of nuclear-powered jet engines after each flight. It was also used for other nuclear research over the years, including examination of damaged fuel and equipment from the Stationary Low-Power Reactor-I and Three Mile Island accidents.

The Department of Energy is decommissioning the Hot Shop after efforts to find new missions for the facility were unsuccessful.

The TAN-607 area includes the Hot Shop itself, several smaller hot cells for more detailed work, an adjacent "warm shop" for staging and other preparatory work, and a spent fuel storage basin that was drained and closed in 2004.

The 165-foot-long, 55-foot-high Hot Shop has 7-foot-thick reinforced concrete walls that taper to 2 feet thick at the top, two 5-foot-thick concrete doors, nine 6-foot-thick viewing windows, and several remotely-operated cranes and manipulators.

Recommendations for the site could include no action on closing down the site, limited action, which might involve removal of hazardous materials and continued surveillance and maintenance of the facility, or complete demolition of the above-ground portion of the facility and removal or burial of all radiologically contaminated debris.

The decommissioning and demolition work is proposed to be done under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act, also known as Superfund work.

The DOE in March 2005 selected contractor CWI, a collaboration between Boise-based CH2M Hill and Washington Group International, for the undertaking.

Written comments on DOE's plan can be e-mailed to or mailed to: R. Mark Shaw, U.S. Department of Energy, P.O. Box 1625 MS 1222, Idaho Falls, Idaho 83415-1222.

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