Pre-demolition work starts at Lawrence Livermore reactor

05 January 2021

Workers have begun activities to prepare for the demolition of a nuclear reactor at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), in California, the Office of Environmental Management (EM) at the US Department of Energy announced on 22 December. A team from EM, the National Nuclear Security Administration, and the US Army Corp Engineers performed core drilling, surveying, sampling, and a study of potential demolition impacts last month.

US Army Corp Engineers conduct surveys within Building 280 (Image: DOE)

The Livermore Pool Type Reactor operated for more than 20 years, supporting radiation research at what was then known as the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory. The reactor was cooled and moderated with light water, and its power came from a uranium chain reaction. The reactor was defueled and decommissioned in 1981.

"Hitting this significant cleanup milestone took a lot of cooperation between the NNSA, EM, and USACE teams, particularly given the challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic," EM LLNL Federal Project Director Kevin Bazzell said. “But everyone came together with a commitment to safety, and to ensure we met EM’s commitment to start pre-work for demolition by the end of 2020."

The remaining reactor vessel sits within a concrete-and-steel shielding structure inside Building 280. Removal of the reactor from Building 280 is scheduled to begin this spring, with completion of the demolition expected in the autumn.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News