Grout seals Savannah River Site's C Reactor basin

More than 2.8 million gallons of grout were poured into Savannah River Site's dormant C Reactor facility as part of an effort to eliminate contamination hazards while preserving the Cold War building's historical integrity.

Contractors have completed placement of about 1,700 truckloads of concrete into Savannah River Site’s dormant C Reactor building that once served the nation’s Cold War nuclear weapons program.

The reactor’s huge, below-ground disassembly basin – similar to a series of interconnected swimming pools – required more than 2.8 million gallons of grout designed to permanently seal the area.

The once water-filled basin was used to cut and store irradiated fuel elements for the reactor, which was in use from 1955 to 1985 and helped produce weapons-grade plutonium.

Before the area could be grouted, the contractor, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, had to remove about 2 million gallons of water through an evaporation process, said Chris Bergren, the manager of area completion projects.

“Due to C Reactor’s historical status, the rest of the building will not be filled with grout,” he said. “Our goal is to safely eliminate a potential source of contamination while fully preserving the historical integrity of the building as a whole.”

At peak operations, SRS maintained five productions reactors, beginning in the 1950s. The last, K Reactor, was shut down in 1992 and is still used for plutonium storage. Both P and R Reactors have been fully grouted and permanently sealed. L Reactor remains in use as a storage site for spent nuclear fuel.

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