The Hanford vitrification plant has received the first of 32 large nuclear-quality dampers for its High Level Waste Facility, according to Department of Energy contractor Bechtel National.
The 1,350-pound dampers are part of the building's extensive filter system and will be essential to maintaining contamination boundaries during plant operations.
Twenty of the 32 stainless steel dampers will isolate contaminated air flow during filter system maintenance using remote-operated vertical sliding doors.
The doors will slide over 2-foot-diameter openings that connect the dampers to one of two massive HVAC ducts, which were installed earlier this year.
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"These dampers are part of the High-Level Waste Facility's air-filtration system, which is essential to ... meeting strict air-emission requirements," said Joe St. Julian, area project manager for the facility. "They are therefore being manufactured and tested to highest nuclear safety and quality standards by an internationally recognized leader in specialty dampers."
The remaining 12 dampers will be used in other facility filtration systems.
As part of the quality-control measures, the dampers are being assembled and tested in a "clean room," which is accessed only through airtight doors and closely monitored for airborne contaminants. In addition, anyone entering the clean room must be dressed in head-to-toe protective clothing.
Many of the damper pieces were cut using a precision laser, and the dampers are now being assembled, tested and shipped in pairs.
"By manufacturing and delivering the dampers in pairs, we can begin to install them and progress more quickly than if we waited for all of them," said Gary Olsen, DOE area project manager for the facility. "This allows us to steadily move toward construction complete in 2016, commissioning in 2019 and full operations in 2022."
Each assembled damper must pass functional and leakage tests that ensure it will operate as designed for the 40 years the vitrification plant is planned to operate.
Each damper is estimated to open and close up to 500 times during plant operations, and a prototype damper was tested by opening and closing it more than 500 times. The damper was then disassembled, inspected and evaluated to confirm that all parts would meet or exceed the needed design life.