Reactor Stack Expected to Remain in Place

June 2011

Reactor Stack Expected to Remain in Place

Reactor stack

The 320-foot tall red-and-white striped stack that has been the most visible feature of the Brookhaven Lab landscape is expected to remain in place for some time, as plans for its accelerated demolition have been put on hold.

Starting in January of this year, Brookhaven Science Associates and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) undertook a detailed reevaluation of the alternative methods for dismantling the stack, taking into consideration worker safety, environmental impact, cost, schedule, and available funds. This reevaluation concluded that it was not practical to demolish the stack this year, and that it was prudent to revert to the original plan of removing the stack by 2020, as required by the High Flux Beam Reactor Record of Decision the agreement among the DOE, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Consistent with standard BNL procedures, the stack will be inspected and maintained during the period leading to its demolition.

Other work associated with the stack is now in progress, including the removal of 32 silencer baffles, which are housed in the slanted concrete duct located at the base of the stack. When the BGRR was in operation, the silencer functioned much like an automobile muffler, reducing the sound level of the 1,113,000 pounds of air per hour exiting the reactor cooling fans. These baffles contain more than 90 percent of the total radioactive contamination in the stack structure. To prevent the spread of contamination, a large containment tent has been erected over the silencer structure. All work, including packaging of the baffles for transportation to an off-site disposal facility, will be conducted inside this tent.