The US Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Environmental Management (EM) has partnered with Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and the US Army Corp of Engineers (USACE) to complete the recent demolition of a building and removal of a reactor to make room for new facilities, LLNL said on 10 May.

With its small footprint, the lab must maximise all available space by demolishing buildings that have outlived their purpose. This includes Buildings B175 and B280, two high risk excess contaminated facilities onsite.

B175, which crews demolished to slab, played a part in LLNL’s Uranium Atomic Vapor Laser Isotope Separation programme, which used an electron beam to vaporise uranium to test ion extraction and material handling subsystems.

“The B175 effort required significant internal integration within LLNL to successfully demolish the building and help refine processes which will be used for future demolition activities,” said Kevin Bazzell, EM’s federal project director at LLNL. Part of the B175 building waste included low-level and mixed hazardous waste. Workers transported more than 30 shipping containers of waste to an out-of-state disposal facility.

B280 housed the Livermore Pool Type Reactor, a neutron-producing machine used for fundamental research and to measure and calibrate instruments. Later, it was used for trace-element measurements, radiation-damage studies and researching shorter-lived fission products.

USACE, in an interagency agreement with EM, completed removal of the reactor from within the building. The reactor demolition work included characterising and demolishing the reactor bioshield, reactor internals and support equipment. “The reactor removal required a colossal amount of teamwork and integration among EM, USACE and LLNL to demolish it. Coordinating the teams, their schedules and their individual duties was challenging, but everyone worked together to get it done,” Bazzell said. Razing the building and its slab will follow. LLNL plans to use the site for a parking structure to support ongoing mission expansion.