Workers at Idaho National Lab Reach Major Nuclear Milestones

Workers at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) hit two major project milestones this spring.

In March, workers at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) transferred the last spent nuclear fuel from a water-filled storage basin to a dry storage facility, completing the project at the Department of Energy (DOE) site nine months ahead of schedule. The project – which involved emptying the largest basin of wet nuclear fuel storage in the world – took nearly two decades to complete.

Workers at INL also helped the facility achieve another major milestone on April 11 with the launch of a first-of-its-kind Integrative Waste Treatment Unit (IWTU), a 53,000-square-foot facility for treating radioactive and hazardous liquid waste from underground tanks. The Office of Environmental Management first broke ground on the facility 16 years ago.

“We just processed some of our first radioactive canisters,” said Jace Radford, a member of Local 12-652 who has been a Radiological Control Technician for six years at INL. “The changes and upgrades they’ve made to the site over the years have worked fantastically.”

Those upgrades include the use of a robot decontamination system, which Radford said has worked extremely well to safely put clean canisters into underground storage vaults.

Many of the workers at INL have worked on the IWTU project for years, which converts liquid waste to a solid material and requires careful handling of and monitoring for radioactive contamination.

“We’re hitting milestones right now, and this could bring in a lot of work now that it’s running,” said Radford. “A lot of people are excited about it, and it’s been exciting for me because I’ve been really invested in this project for a while.”

Radford attended the USW’s Health, Safety and Environment Conference in Pittsburgh in April, where he got to share his experience as a radiological control technician with other conference attendees as a worker-trainer for the USW’s Tony Mazzocchi Center.

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