A Review of Criticality Accidents [LA-13638]

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No one else received measurable doses, and there was no equipment damage nor contamination as a result of the accident. 26 Notes Draining of oil reservoir begun Draining of oil reservoir completed 10. Hanford Works, 7 April 196218,19,20,21,22 Plutonium solution in a transfer vessel; multiple excursions; three significant exposures. This Recuplex system process plant accident involved: 1) cleaning up the floor of a solvent extraction hood, 2) a product receiver tank that could overflow into the hood, 3) a temporary line running from the hood floor to a transfer tank (about 460 mm diameter, 69 l volume), and 4) the apparent improper operation of valves.

By an unfortunate coincidence, this other vessel contained solution with a uranium concentration 10 times lower than that in 64-A, thus reinforcing the operator’s expectations. The supervisor for the second shift, relying on this erroneous information, decided to recycle this supposedly low concentration solution to dissolve the next batch of dry precipitate. This next batch, still subject to the original recording error, contained ~1,255 g of uranium, about the same as that of the preceding batch.

28 During the days just before the accident, research was being conducted on technology for producing metal ingots by reduction smelting briquettes made from metal shavings. After having been returned to service subsequent to repairs, the first charge to dissolution vessel 2 was a residue batch from these smelting operations. This charge was high concentration residue containing 318 g of plutonium. After the dissolution run, only 11 g of plutonium was discharged in the nitrate solution. This was a clear sign of a very incomplete dissolution that should have caused operating personnel to postpone charging the next batch into vessel 2.

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