MACTEC's ORION Soil Sorting System, which deploys advanced scanning spectrometer technology, is providing soil measurement and sorting services at the Plum Brook Reactor Facility in Sandusky, OH. ORION is a conveyor-based soil handling system that surveys and monitors excavated soils at high throughput rates.
During its operations, the 60-megawatt Plum Brook Reactor conducted over 70 experiments, most of which studied the effects of radiation on various materials. The reactor was closed down in 1973 and was placed into a "safe dry storage" mode, during which it was monitored by NASA until initial decommissioning work began in 1998.
According to MACTEC Vice President/Director of Radiological Services Steve Rima, ORION is expected to reduce the volume of radioactive waste by up to 90 percent compared to simply excavating it and disposing of it as radioactive waste.
"This will amount to a potential cost savings to NASA of millions of dollars," said Rima. "Faster processing will reduce the project schedule. Accurate monitoring also reduces waste and saves shipping and burial charges."
Rima added that soil to be processed will be from the facility's hot retention basin shielding, an emergency retention basin dike, cold retention basins, storm drains, and other buried piping, foundations and underground storage tanks.
"We anticipate assay and segregation quantities in excess of 50 million pounds of soil into material that can either stay on site for use as backfill (less than 1/2 of the release limit for Cesium-137 in soil) or shipped offsite for disposal," said Rima.
MACTEC (www.mactec.com), based in Alpharetta, GA, is a leading infrastructure engineering firm focused on five strategic business lines: Industrial/Commercial, Transportation, Municipal, Energy, and Federal. With annual revenues over $490 million, MACTEC's 3,000-plus employees work from over 80 offices nationwide. MACTEC consistently ranks in the top 10% of Engineering News-Record's Top 500 Design Firms.