FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE |Contact:  Michael Butler |  (704) 779-1844  |
Monday, March 28, 2022  |

Cold and dark doesn’t sound very inviting, but it’s the ideal state when the Department of Energy’s Environmental Management group prepares to demolish an aging, unused nuclear structure. It’s called deactivation.

In this week’s (March 28) episode of the Gone Fission Nuclear Report podcast, experts from three key Department of Energy sites discuss the essential work of deactivation in preparing a nuclear structure for teardown. The highly-skilled deactivation team places the facility in a “stable and known” condition which allows workers to enter and perform their tasks safely.

Listeners will hear from Mark French, Project and Facilities Division Director at DOE in Hanford, Washington, Karen Adams, DOE Federal Project Director at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, South Carolina, and Dan Macias, Site Integration and Cleanup Manager for UCOR, DOE’s environmental cleanup contractor in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

“Cold and dark refers to a building’s state when all deactivation work has been completed, and the building is ready for demolition,” Podcast Host Michael Butler said. “Utilities have been isolated. Hazardous waste like asbestos-containing material and lead and universal wastes like batteries and light bulbs have been removed, and the building is ready for the spotlight.  Elected officials, community leaders and the news media will show up for the ceremonial start of demolition, unaware of the months of preparation that have preceded this day of celebration.”

In the podcast, experts discuss the engineering evaluation that is completed before workers are allowed to enter an abandoned building for deactivation work.  Engineers evaluate the soundness of the structure to ensure floors and walls are safe, the roof is sound, and there are no obvious hazards that would pose an injury risk.  They also talk about the extensive training that is necessary, including practical exercises and the use of mock-ups to simulate conditions inside the building.  There are also special challenges related to deactivation of classified facilities.

The Gone Fission Nuclear Report covers the latest developments in environmental cleanup across the Department of Energy (DOE) complex. DOE is now engaged in the largest environmental remediation program in history, cleaning up nuclear production sites across the U.S. that were used to support national security missions for 75 years.

“Some of the work on these sites dates back to the super-secret Manhattan Project, a national priority to develop the first atomic bomb that helped end World War II,” Butler said. “Cleanup of these sites is a multi-decade effort, requiring thousands of trained professionals and highly skilled crafts people with budgets in the billions of dollars.”