TA-55 Brief Description
4.32.1 Site Description
The Plutonium Facility Site at TA-55 [Table 4-28, Figure 4-32 (index map of TA-55)] is located on 40 acres (16.18 ha) about 1 mi (1.6 km) southeast of the central technical area (TA-3). Most of TA- 55 is situated inside a restricted area surrounded by a double security fence. The main complex has five connected buildings: the Administration Building (Building 1), the Support Office Building (Building 2), the Support Building (Building 3), the Plutonium Facility (Building 4), and the Warehouse (Building 5). The Nuclear Materials Storage Facility (Building 41) is separate from the main complex but shares an underground transfer tunnel with Building 4. Various support, storage, security, and training structures are located throughout the main complex.
4.32.2 Facilities Description
To meet the varied needs of research and development and plutonium-processing programs at
the Laboratory, TA-55 provides chemical and metallurgical processes for recovering, purifying,
and converting plutonium and other actinides into many compounds and forms. Additional capabilities include the means to safely and securely ship, receive, handle, and store nuclear materials, as well as manage the wastes and residues produced by TA-55 operations. A core capability is basic and applied research in plutonium and actinide chemistry.
Core competencies are maintained in the Plutonium Facility for each type of plutonium-processing activity. Extensive plutonium recovery processes are maintained, as well as the ability to convert the recovered material to plutonium metal. A separate portion of the facility is dedicated to fabricating ceramic-based reactor fuels and to processing 238Pu used to produce radioisotope heat sources. In addition, analytical capabilities, materials control and accountability techniques, and a substantial R&D base are available to support these core capabilities.
A sophisticated nuclear materials measurement and accountability system is used at TA-55. The
system includes nuclear materials accounting, nuclear materials management and modeling, a
measurement support operation, operation of a nondestructive assay laboratory, nuclear materials packaging and transfer, and nuclear materials storage. All nuclear materials that are in process or are stored onsite are monitored to ensure that material balances are properly maintained and inventoried on a real-time basis. The nuclear-materials-packaging and transfer operation receives nuclear material into the facility and transfers shipments out of the facility. The nuclear materials storage operation provides a safe storage location for the actinide materials at the Plutonium Facility.
The Plutonium Facility has extensive capabilities for treating, packaging, storing, and transporting the radioactive waste produced by TA-55 operations. Liquid wastes are converted to solids or are piped to the RLWTF at TA-50. Some solid TRU wastes are immobilized in cement in 55-gal. (208- L) drums. Other TRU waste is consolidated in 15-gal. (57-L) or 30-gal. (114-L) drums or is packaged in waste boxes. Low-level wastes are also packaged at this facility. Solid wastes of all types are stored at TA-55 until they are shipped to Laboratory waste storage or disposal locations, primarily at TA-54.