TA-16 More Details

March 1998 6 7 TA and Facilities Descriptions Facility Hazard Categories
Table 4-9 identifies the facilities at TA-16 that fall into a facility hazard category because of the type
of operations performed in the facility. Nuclear Facility Hazard Categories Hazard Category 2 Nuclear Facilities
TA-16 contains two Hazard Category 2 nuclear facilities: the Weapons Engineering Tritium Facility
(WETF) (Buildings 205 and 205A; Figure 4-11, Sheet 2) and the Rest House (Building 411). Weapons Engineering Tritium Facility
WETF is located in Buildings 205 and 205A in the southeast section of TA-16 outside the explosives
area. WETF is in a secured area patrolled by armed guards.
Building 205 is specifically designed and built to process tritium safely and to meet user needs
and specifications. Planning for WETF began in 1981 to replace an aging tritium-processing
facility located at TA-33. Construction began in 1982 and was completed in 1984. The operational
readiness review of WETF was performed by DOE-Albuquerque in three phases, which corresponded
to various systems being ready for use. Phases I and II were completed in 1987, and
Phase III was completed in 1988. WETF began operation in 1989.
Current DOE-approved operational safety requirements (OSRs) limit to 100 g the total “at-risk” tritium
inventory in the facility at any given time. The OSRs define the at-risk inventory as that portion
of the tritium inventory not in a secondary confinement vessel that would mitigate a release if
the primary confinement vessel were compromised. The purpose of this limit is minimizing the
source term for potential release during an event that could lead to a credible accident while providing
the necessary flexibility for processing tritium. The quantity of tritium that can be stored in
March 1998 6 8 TA and Facilities Descriptions
approved storage containers providing secondary confinement is unlimited; however, the area
available for storing tritium containers is small.
Building 205 is a single-level structure except for a mezzanine area. The structure consists of
reinforced, cemented, mortar unit walls set on reinforced-concrete footings. The walls are also
reinforced at corners, joints, windows, and doors. The foundation is reinforced-concrete floor
slab set on compacted fill. A precast, prestressed concrete, double T-beam roof is supported by
reinforced concrete beams, columns, and cemented mortar unit walls.
An exterior steel stairway located at the west wall of Building 205A, an addition to Building 205,
provides access to the roof. Effluents from the ventilation and cleanup systems in the tritiumhandling
areas are exhausted through a 60-ft- (18-m-) high steel stack mounted on a concrete
base. WETF has six entrances/exits and three exterior windows located in the two offices of
Building 205. The total floor area is approximately 7,885 ft2 (2,403 m2) and is divided into multiple
areas that include the control room, the tritium-handling areas, and the support areas.
Wall partitions and doors divide the tritium-handling areas into five rooms that contain the equipment
used to handle and process tritium. Tritium may also be stored in containers in these rooms.
Tritium-handling areas are separated from the rest of the facility by walls, doors, windows, air locks,
and a zoned ventilation system. Personnel access to the radiologically controlled area is controlled
through an air lock entry located at the control room. There is a staging area for shipments entering
or leaving the tritium-handling area. The exterior metal doors to this area can only be opened
from the interior and are used to provide access to the exterior loading dock during shipping
and receiving.
Shipments containing tritium are admitted to WETF through a staging room that functions as a
shipping and receiving area. Once receiving activities are complete, an item is moved into the
tritium-handling area, where it is unpackaged. Unpackaging involves removing shipping containers
from their protective overpacks and checking for leaks. If the contents are destined for processing
by the tritium-gas-handling system (TGHS), the container is connected to the TGHS, and
the required tritium-processing manipulations are performed by the TGHS equipment. At the
completion of the processing activity, the tritium is off-loaded into an appropriate container, sealed,
and then disconnected from the TGHS. Tritium may also be temporarily stored in vessels connected
to the TGHS or in a metal hydride bed, known as a getter bed.
These areas are monitored for tritium and are controlled to a slightly negative pressure relative to
atmosphere by a dedicated once-through ventilation system that exhausts to a 60-ft (18-m) stack.
A separate ventilation system maintains the control room, which is also monitored for tritium, at a
positive pressure relative to atmosphere and within a temperature range for proper operation of
electronic equipment in the room. The control room is the operations focus for activities that monitor,
control, and operate the facility systems. The control room is entered from the main entry foyer
and is separated from the tritium-handling areas by walls, windows, and an air lock.
Construction of Building 205A started in 1993 and was completed in 1994. The addition was designed
and built to provide more space for the same type of activities performed in the original
The operations at WETF are divided into two categories: tritium processing and activities that support
tritium processing. Operations at WETF are described briefly in the following paragraphs.
Tritium-processing operations include
• repackaging tritium into smaller quantities,
• removing the 3He decay product and other contaminants,
March 1998 6 9 TA and Facilities Descriptions
• mixing tritium with other gases,
• analyzing gaseous tritium and gas mixtures,
• repackaging tritium and other gases to user-specified pressures,
• performing various user-defined experiments that use tritium,
• unloading containers of tritium,
• performing function tests of components and apparatus containing tritium,
• reacting tritium with other materials to form compounds,
• fusion target and neutron tube target loading, and
• analyzing the effects of tritium.
WETF is designed to process tritium in quantities consistent with present and anticipated future
needs while providing reliability and protection for workers, the public, and the environment. The
tritium-processing activities occur in the tritium-handling areas and are typically performed in a
TGHS, which is enclosed in glove boxes. The TGHS contains a variety of components that users
require for manipulating tritium. Gloveboxes may stand alone or be joined together to form a
glovebox line.
An inert atmosphere (typically nitrogen gas) in the gloveboxes reduces the potential for fire and
for formation of tritium oxide, should tritium be released to a glovebox. The oxygen concentration
in the glovebox is monitored and controlled through the facility computer system. The oxygen
and hydrogen content of the tritium waste treatment system low-pressure receiver is also monitored
and controlled to prevent flammable concentrations from accumulating. Fire protection (suppression
and detection) in the facility consists of a full-coverage wet-pipe sprinkler network, fire
detection devices, alarms, and pull stations. The control room has the additional protection of a
Halon system.
To reduce the potential for inadvertent release, most processes, experiments, and storage configurations
involving tritium typically use double containment. Operations in the TGHS components
that provide primary confinement are housed in gloveboxes that provide secondary confinement.
TGHS piping outside of gloveboxes is enclosed in a large-diameter pipe that provides
secondary confinement for the tritium. Most tritium storage configurations include both a primary
and secondary confinement barrier. The facility building structure, along with the ventilation isolation,
forms the outermost confinement barrier against any tritium releases.
Strategically located tritium monitors provide computer signals and alert workers of tritium release
concentrations above alarm set-point values. Each glovebox has a tritium monitor that initiates tritium
gas cleanup system (TGCS) actions when a set point is exceeded. Room tritium monitors in
the tritium-handling areas and in the control room and a tritium stack monitor alert workers of released
tritium through alarms and other indicators. The stack monitor provides backup for the
room monitors in the tritium-handling areas and monitors process effluents that are routed directly
to the stack. These effluents are also monitored in the emergency tritium cleanup system and tritium
waste treatment system before being routed to the stack. When certain alarm set points are
exceeded, the tritium room monitors and stack monitor also initiate signals that lead to isolating the
ventilation systems of the tritium-handling areas and sound the evacuation alarm. Tritium released
to the tritium-handling areas is either cleaned up by the emergency tritium cleanup system before
discharge through the stack or is discharged directly to the atmosphere through the stack in a
manner that allows for a controlled release so as not to exceed allowable limits, as appropriate. Rest House
A number of buildings in TA-16 are referred to as rest houses. The term “rest house” basically
refers to a safe place to temporarily store something until needed. Building 411 (Figure 4-11,
Sheet 2), along with Building 410 (Section, is used for assembling devices.
Building 411 is occasionally used to warehouse nuclear material and classified parts in sufficient
March 1998 7 0 TA and Facilities Descriptions
quantities to qualify it as a Category 2 nuclear facility. On these occasions, the building is considered
to be a Hazard Category 2 nuclear facility. Based on safety analyses, the necessary controls
are in place when nuclear materials are being handled. For all other operations, the building is
considered non-nuclear. Many of the remaining rest houses at TA-16 are used as explosives
magazines. Non-Nuclear Facility Hazard Categories Building Categorized M/CHEM

Building 560 (Figure 4-11, Sheet 2) houses a drinking water chlorination station. Buildings Categorized L/ENS
Sixty-one facilities located in TA-16 are categorized L/ENS. Eighteen of the buildings identified in
Table 4-9 as L/ENS are passageways between facilities. These passageways are not shown on
Figure 4-11, nor are they discussed below. The descriptions below identify some building numbers
that do not show on the maps. These structures do not currently have a hazard category. Large-Scale Explosives Formulation and Fabrication Plant
The Large-Scale Explosives Formulation and Fabrication Plant (Buildings 58, 340-343, and 345;
Figure 4-11, Sheets 2 and 3) has large-scale, HE-processing capabilities for manufacturing and
processing HE powders, micronizing HE powders, pressing formulated powders into structured
pieces, performing strength-of-materials testing on HE components, and conducting loading
operations for some specialty explosives. Some small, special-test devices are also assembled
here. High-Explosives Inspection and Component Radiography
In the high-explosives inspection and component radiography facilities (Buildings 220, 221, 223-
226, 280, 281, 283, and 285; Figure 4-11, Sheets 2 and 3), HE is inspected and components undergo
radiography as part of the quality control process to guarantee integrity for design intent.
Quality assurance includes using coordinate-measuring equipment and industrial x-ray devices to
obtain dimensional and density measurements of HE components and test devices. Radiography
takes place in Building 220; however, radiography operations will be consolidated and relocated
in Building 260. High-Explosives Fabrication
The high-explosives fabrication facilities (Buildings 260, 261, 263, 265, 301, 302, 380, 430, 435,
and 437; Figure 4-11, Sheets 2 and 3) house HE fabrication processes. Machined components
needed for weapons research and development and full weapons test assemblies are fabricated
to specifications. Casting operations provide cast HE components for testing, as well as mock HE
to be used in weapons systems training and in tests that use mockups of components as substitutes
for actual HE components. HE-pressing operations consolidate plastic-bonded explosives
into solid charges and into stock pieces for machining components for hydrotests and other HE
testing. Rest House
The rest house (Building 303; Figure 4-11, Sheet 3) is used for HE environmental testing.
March 1998 7 1 TA and Facilities Descriptions Plastics Operations
Buildings 307 and 308 (Figure 4-11, Sheet 3) house plastics operations. High-Explosives Receiving and Storage
To comply with DoD and DOE regulations, all HE and energetic materials shipped to the Laboratory
must be received at the HE-Receiving Facility (Building 280, Figure 4-11, Sheet 2). Buildings
281-285 (Figure 4-11, Sheets 2 and 3) are used as magazines that store bulk HE and some
limited HE components until they are needed for future processing. High-Explosives Disposal and Treatment
The High-Explosives Disposal and Treatment Facility (Buildings 388-389, 399, 401, and 406;
Figure 4-11, Sheet 3) disposes of HE and HE-contaminated wastes generated at the Laboratory.
Current disposal techniques include open-air burning for solid HE and incineration for combustible
HE-contaminated waste. HE-contaminated water, solvents, and oil are also treated in this processing
area. All treated effluent is sampled and analyzed to be sure that it meets regulatory requirements.
Buildings 399, 401, and 406 are not really buildings—Building 399 is a burn pad for
disposal of HE, and Buildings 401 and 406 are sand filter vessels. Test Device Assembly
Local hydrotesting and pre-Nevada-Test-Site device assembly are performed in Buildings 410
(Figure 4-11, Sheet 3) and 411 (Figure 4-11, Sheet 2). The facility has two large walk-in vaults that
sometimes warehouse nuclear material and classified parts. Building 411 can also be used for
SNM storage when extra security is provided, and Building 410 can accommodate a safe secure
transport overnight. Buildings 413-415 are used as staging magazines. Explosives Analytical Chemistry
The explosives analytical chemistry buildings (Buildings 460, 462, and 463; Figure 4-11, Sheet 2)
are currently being used by the Laboratory’s biochemistry group rather than for explosives analytical
chemistry. They are included here to identify their current use. Laboratory Building/Rest House
This facility (Building 477, Figure 4-11, Sheet 3) is used for HE storage. High-Speed Machine Shop
The high-speed machine shop (Building 478, Figure 4-11, Sheet 3) is used for remote HE machining. Buildings Categorized L/CHEM
Three buildings in TA-16 are categorized as L/CHEM. Casting Rest House
Building 88, also called the Casting Rest House (Figure 4-11, Sheet 2), currently houses a “museum”
containing several previously tested mock weapons assemblies. Although no HE or HE
March 1998 7 2 TA and Facilities Descriptions
operations are conducted in the building, it does contain depleted uranium, beryllium, and other
weapons materials. Storage Building
Flammable materials are stored in Building 339 (Figure 4-11, Sheet 3). Drum Storage
Flammable materials are stored in Building 344 (Figure 4-11, Sheet 3). Nonhazardous Facilities
A number of administrative/technical and physical support activities that do not involve any unusual
hazards are located in various buildings at TA-16.


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