Contamination Control During Nuclear Weapons Disassembly


G. W. Britten, W. S. Wilson, J. B. Martin


Experience has shown that nuclear weapon components are frequently contaminated at low levels, and this contamination must be carefully controlled during weapons disassembly to avoid personnel contaminations and mixed wastes. At the beginning of a disassembly campaign, the first 10 weapons (units) are thoroughly characterized using extensive smears, air sampling, and radiation surveys. Each part removed is surveyed with multiple smears that are counted for both alpha and tritium contamination. Air samples are collected continuously at each step of the disassembly process. Radiation surveys of beta, gamma, and neutron dose rates are taken at contact, 30 cm and 1 m. The radiation survey and smear and air sample data are pooled for the 10 units and analyzed to establish the dose rates and contamination control requirements for the disassembly of subsequent units. The pooled data are used to determine precise locations for smear surveys and to determine the need for continuous air monitoring and/or engineered controls. Examples of characterization data are presented to demonstrate the variation among different weapon types. The process for validating the reliability of the characterization program will be described.


This abstract was presented at the 32nd Annual Midyear Meeting, "Creation and Future Legacy of Stockpile Stewardship Isotope Production, Applications, and Consumption", Poster Session, 1/24/1999 - 1/27/1999, held in Albuquerque, NM.

Index of Midyear Meeting Abstracts