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Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant Decommission

PROJECT: Rocky Flats was a nuclear weapons production facility operating from 1952 to 1989. Decommissioning began in the early 1990’s, and Bluegrass joined the cleanup effort in September of 2003.   In conjunction with Bartlett Services, Bluegrass provided diamond concrete shavers, skilled operators, and expertise for decontaminating walls, floors and ceilings in two buildings used for plutonium recovery and waste treatment: B371 and B374.

The initial plan was to decontaminate the concrete walls, floors and ceilings using a wet method, but after reviewing and considering all the contamination issues associated with the project it was determined the proven dry method would be safer and less costly.  

CHALLENGES: A wall shaver and six floor shavers were deployed in the buildings which had fixed plutonium and beryllium contamination to .5” depths.    B371 alone was 365,000 square feet and four levels. Bluegrass technicians -- operating in full anti-contamination clothing including full face respirators -- shaved hundreds of thousands of square feet of concrete floors and walls to the required .5” depth.  

“The personnel were very familiar with the operation of this equipment and were also able to maintain a good spare parts inventory to keep down time at a minimum. Bluegrass furnished equipment provided a good production rate and the equipment also proved to be very reliable.”  said Rolf Amundson, Senior Project Manager for Washington Group International. He went on to say that Bluegrass shavers worked well on a multitude of surfaces and provided good contamination control. 

OUTCOME:   The shaving method was so successful the balance of the two buildings were demolished using conventional methods. The shavers kept the project on schedule while the HEPA double redundancy vacuum system eliminated the potential for airborne contaminants.   The project was completed with zero airborne alarm issues.   Bluegrass demobilized in June 2005. Rocky Flats achieved regulatory closure in 2006 when the EPA certifies the site clean-up was complete.

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