dangers of nuclear, environment, Fluor, German nuclear waste, H-Area, H-Canyon, HB-Line, National Nuclear Security Administration, nuclear, nuclear fuel processing, nuclear waste, nuclear weapons, nuclear weapons complex, plutonium, radioactive waste, risk management, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, Savannah River Site, tritium, Tritium Facilities
US fire satellite mapping reported on Sunday August 7, 2016, 16.20 UTC – a little after noon local time, what seems to have been a fire at the H-Area of the Savannah River Nuclear Site.
Note the tree-like shape of the “Par Pond” allowing identification of H-Area as the site of the apparent fire.
Apparent fire area. Note what appears to be piping near the yellow dot.
Fire location exported from: http://activefiremaps.fs.fed.us/index.php SRS icon exported from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Savannah_River_Site
Fire area without yellow and rotated to better see piping and more of the building area. Although the dot is on the parking lot, it would seem more likely that the fire would be in the area of the corner pipe or elsewhere, unless it occurred unloading.
Apparent area of fire – note parking lot, fans, chimneys.
H-Canyon seems to be center left with the parking lot-chimneys, etc. of apparent fire to the right. Screen shots from “Why SRS matters H-Canyon“: http://youtu.be/PClbY04FDhk
H-Canyon is the High-Tech (in the 1950s) facility where the German government is trying to send its Pebble Bed nuclear waste balls.
As seen above H-Canyon isn’t the only thing in H-Area
Tritium Facilities for nuclear weapons upkeep are also in the H-Area:
“Tritium may also meet the definition of other hazard classes in 49 CFR 173; e.g., tritium gas, in certain conditions, may meet the definition of a flammable gas. Tritium-contaminated hazardous waste will be subject to the requirements for hazardous waste shipments“. http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2013/07/f2/hdbk1129-07.pdf
“SRS Tritium Facilities
The Savannah River Site (SRS) Tritium area occupies approximately 28 acres in the northwest portion of H Area. Operations began in 1955. The Tritium facilities are currently operated by Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, LLC (SRNS), for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA). SRS works together with seven partner NNSA sites in the U.S. Nuclear Security Enterprise (NSE) to maintain a safe and reliable nuclear stockpile. The SRNS personnel have a long history of outstanding performance in safe, secure, disciplined, and compliant operations, consistently delivering high-quality products to our customers on schedule.
SRNS is committed to continued excellence in the execution of four assigned missions that are vital to the United States’ national security:
Tritium Supply – Tritium is a heavy isotope of hydrogen and a key component of nuclear weapons, but it decays radioactively at the rate of 5.5 percent each year and must be replenished continually. This is accomplished by recycling tritium from exist-ing warheads and by extracting tritium from target rods irradiated in nuclear reactors that are operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA). Recycled and extracted gases are purified to produce tritium that is suitable for use.
Nuclear Stockpile Maintenance – SRS helps to maintain the U.S. nuclear stockpile by replenishing gas transfer systems, which ensure the performance of nuclear weapons. War reserve reservoirs (stainless steel containers that meet rigorous quality specifications) are loaded with a mixture of tritium and deuterium (T2/D2) or an inert gas, finished, assembled, inspected, and packaged for shipment.
Nuclear Stockpile Evaluation – In the absence of nuclear weapons testing, designers must rely on surveillance data to certify the reliability of U.S. nuclear weapons. Samples of nuclear weapons are removed from the active stockpile, and their gas transfer systems are sent to the SRS Tritium facilities for function testing. These tests ensure that the tritium gas delivery system will function properly should the weapon be used. Prior to or during function testing, the gas transfer systems may be subjected to one or more conditioning steps that simulate forces potentially experienced during use. Metallographic evaluation and/or burst testing are performed following the function test to obtain valuable information about reservoir integrity, leading to safer designs.
Helium-3 Recovery – Tritium radioactively decays to helium-3, which has become a precious commodity. One reason for the tremendous growth in demand for helium-3 is its use in neutron detection equipment that is being installed all over the world to protect our nation and its allies from terrorism. We recover, purify, and bottle this valuable byproduct of tritium. SRS is the sole producer of helium-3 gas in the United States.
The Tritium Extraction Facility (TEF), which began operating in 2007….” (Read the rest here: http://web.archive.org/web/20160308225712/http://www.srs.gov/general/news/factsheets/tf.pdf
Less than a year ago:
“DEFENSE NUCLEAR FACILITIES SAFETY BOARD August 21, 2015 TO: S. A. Stokes, Technical Director FROM: M. T. Sautman and D. L. Burnfield, Site Representatives SUBJECT: Savannah River Site Weekly Report for Week Ending August 21, 2015
Emergency Response: A security event in H-Area led to the declaration of an operational alert and the activation of the SRS Emergency Operations Center. The event caused workers to evacuate some support buildings near H-Canyon and to remain indoors throughout H-Area. SRNS shut down operations in H-Canyon and HB-Line and there were lesser operational impacts to H-Tank Farms and the tritium facilities. DOE and the contractors are reviewing the performance of communications and protective actions to identify lessons learned that may be applicable to non-security emergencies. Facility operations personnel identified some improvements to their emergency procedures and announcements made over the public address system. Facility personnel reported good communications between the Area Emergency Coordinator in H-Canyon and the Facility Emergency Coordinators in other H-Area facilities, including the shutdown of ventilation systems in certain facilities. During the security event, fire department vehicles would have been unable to enter the limited area to respond to a fire or other emergency.” http://www.dnfsb.gov/sites/default/files/Board%20Activities/Reports/Site%20Rep%20Weekly%20Reports/Savannah%20River%20Site/2015/wr_20150821_116.pdf
A report from 2012. Has there been improvement? https://dcbureau.org/201211147978/national-security-news-service/the-bomb-plant-americas-three-a-m-nightmare.html
SRS overview video 2016: http://youtu.be/G28AeJjXhBI
Description of fire locator:
“MODIS Thermal Anomalies/Fire
MODIS Thermal Anomalies/Fire products are primarily derived from MODIS 4- and 11-micrometer radiances. The fire detection strategy is based on absolute detection of a fire (when the fire strength is sufficient to detect), and on detection relative to its background (to account for variability of the surface temperature and reflection by sunlight).
The product includes fire occurrence (day/night), fire location, the logical criteria used for the fire selection, detection confidence, Fire Radiative Power and numerous other layers describing fire pixel attributes. The product distinguishes between fire, no fire and no observation. Level 3 Daily fire products include 8 separate days of data detailing pixels according to their level of confidence as fires. This information will be used in monitoring the spatial and temporal distribution of fires in different ecosystems, detecting changes in fire distribution and identifying new fire frontiers, wild fires, and changes in the frequency of the fires or their relative strength.
MODIS data on Terra and Aqua are acquired from each platform twice daily at mid-latitudes. These four daily MODIS fire observations that are typically acquired serve operational fire management needs while also advancing global monitoring of the fire process and its effects on ecosystems, the atmosphere, and climate.” http://modis.gsfc.nasa.gov/data/dataprod/mod14.php https://lpdaac.usgs.gov/dataset_discovery/modis/modis_products_table/mod14a1
It is frightening how far it was possible to get with finding the facility, etc, although we still don’t know which one it is. Or, if the fire was even in that location. It is unclear what confidence of 26 means. 26% chance that it’s at the dot? Or?