Removal of HFBR Spent Fuel Elements
In January 1997, tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen and a by-product of reactor operations, was found in groundwater monitoring wells immediately south of the HFBR. The tritium concentrations were above state and federal drinking water standards. Operations at the HFBR were suspended while the source of the tritium was investigated. The investigation revealed a leak in the pool where spent reactor fuel elements were stored. BNL subsequently determined that tritiated water had been leaking from the spent-fuel pool located in the basement of the HFBR building for more than a decade.
In preparation for pumping the water out of the spent fuel pool, the removal of the High Flux Beam Reactor (HFBR) spent fuel elements began. Between May and September 1,050 fuel elements that had been stored in the pool were removed and shipped off-site to the Savannah River Site.