Second quarter of 2000

Plutonium shipping container fails drop test in the US

WISE-Paris, 4 May 2000

[Posted 04/05/2000]

A plutonium shipping container (type 9975) showed severe damage after a drop test was carried out during the last week of March 2000 at the Savannah River Site. The information is contained in the 7 April 2000 report on Savannah River by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) and was highlighted by the opposition group Women's Action for New Directions (WAND).

The following is an excerpt of the 7 April 2000 DNFSB report.

"9975 Shipping Containers: Last week, one of two 9975 containers that was drop-tested showed a large separation between the outer container (a 35 gal drum) and its lid. This raises the concern that the lid might come off during a major transportation accident. Resolution may impact Rocky Flats plutonium shipments to K-Area Material Storage later this year. Those shipments have already been delayed due to problems with the Rocky Flats packaging system (site rep weekly, 3/3/00)."

"Specifically, the 30 foot drop test produced a gap about 4 inch long by 9/16 inch wide (maximum) between the lid and container. The test acceptance criteria is a gap less than 3 inches long by 1/8 inch wide. The container was pre-damaged by an inclined 4 foot drop, simulating an earlier handling mishap. The drop tests were being done to resolve regulator comments. Some of those comments were on the closure ring design, since an earlier test with the heavier 9974 container (a 55 gal drum design) had identified that the closure ring could be marginal. This week, SRTC and WSRC began to look at design upgrades, considering two options: (a) a bolted flange closure similar to that used on Y-12 DT-22 shipping containers and (b) a J-clamp clam-shell design. A path forward is still under development and is expected in about 2 weeks."

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