Seventeen glove boxes at the mixed-oxide fuel plant under construction at Savannah River Site are being checked after nonconforming welds were found in one of the devices.
In a report made public Monday by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the plant contractor – Shaw AREVA MOX Services – said the glove box in question included 32 welds that will require repairs.
Glove boxes are a main component in protective work stations that allow operators to handle radioactive materials safely.
The plant is designed to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium by blending it with uranium to make fuel for commercial power reactors, a process that renders the plutonium unusable for weapons.
The box needing repair is designed to handle fuel pellets, the report said, and was supplied by Flanders CSC.
The report also questioned the short circuit arc process used by the supplier who built the glove boxes. That process creates a weld “that looks acceptable but could fail under small loads,” the report said.
MOX Services spokesman Bryan Wilkes said the company’s inspectors detected and reported the weld issue and will make sure all needed corrections are made.
“At least half are still at the vendor and are being redone to the quality standards we expect, and which fall under NRC rules,” he said.