Paducah Material Sizing Area to Drive Deactivation Efficiency, Worker Safety

Workers at EM’s Paducah Site are set to begin constructing a state-of-the-art material sizing area (MSA) in the C-333 Process Building to downsize large components.

Crews in the MSA will use specialized handling equipment, a custom-designed dust collection system, and other support systems to complete the work inside the building once used to enrich uranium.

Once constructed, the MSA will break down as many as 500 large components from the C-333 Process Building that are scheduled to be downsized using the new technology. Some of these components weigh as much as 60,000 pounds — the equivalent of 60 grand pianos. Components to be downsized in the MSA that contain uranium deposits will have those deposits identified, quantified, and removed before they are reduced in size for packaging and disposal.

“Due to the building’s twenty-five acre size and function, the deactivation of the C-333 Process Building will require a multi-faceted, multi-year approach, with the MSA playing a critical role,” said Jennifer Woodard, Paducah Site lead with the Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office. “Moving forward we will be heavily focused on downsizing large components in the building and the construction of the MSA will allow us to do that work more efficiently than traditional methods allowed.”

Equipment being designed and brought onsite for the MSA can be reused to resize large components from the site’s other process buildings, an important step in the deactivation of these facilities. Deactivation requires removal of hazardous materials from the buildings along with shutdown of utilities and other systems.

Traditional downsizing methods required the use of hand tools and thermal cutting techniques.The MSA allows for less physically demanding work, resulting in greater efficiency, increased productivity, and greater safety.

“Safety is always the first thing we consider when introducing new tools and techniques to our work,” said Myrna Redfield, program manager for Paducah Site deactivation and remediation contractor Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership. “The MSA will not only be protective of our workforce, but it will also allow us to be more efficient in working to fulfill DOE’s cleanup mission.”

In preparing for creation of the MSA, 32 3,000-horsepower motors have already been relocated along with 32 compressors, and 32 other large components will be relocated by the end of September. MSA construction is scheduled to begin this fall.