Savannah River Nuclear Solutions starts process to exit 'operational pause'

 

 

A Savannah River Site contractor started the process of resuming full operations Friday, almost a month after all nonessential work was suspended for what administrators described as a “significant” safety violation employees committed while storing plutonium.

With the exception of H-Canyon, HB-Line and K-Area Complex, all Savannah River Nuclear Solutions organizations exited an “operational pause” begun on Sept. 11 and are now in a stage known as “deliberate operations,” said Jim Giusti, spokesman for the U.S. Department of Energy.

Giusti said during deliberate operations, only work the facility manager approves may be performed.

Giusti said the K-Area Complex is expected to enter deliberate operations next week, but that there are no established dates for when H-Canyon or HB-Line will follow suit.

The “operational pause” stemmed from a Sept. 3 incident in SRS’ HB-Line, where material for the site’s mixed-oxide fuel fabrication facility is processed.

Carol Johnson, president and CEO of SRNS, said a violation of standard-operating procedure occurred while three operators and a first-line supervisor were extracting three samples of plutonium for placement in critically safe containers that would be transported to a storage vault.

The crew performing the work, she said, made a decision midway through the extraction process to use a non-specified container.

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