Lab Spotlight

Lab Spotlight: Y-12’s Analytical Chemistry Facility

Y12 labspotlight

This week’s lab spotlight shines on the Y-12 National Security Complex for its recently completed infrastructure upgrades to the plant’s Analytical Chemistry facility. These significant upgrades were a year-long effort implemented to improve the facility’s mission capability and reliability.

Built in 1957, Building 9995 in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, was designed to provide comprehensive analytical services in support of core Department of Energy (DOE) missions, environmental compliance, and overall worker health and safety.

The scientists who work in Building 9995 analyze impurity levels to ensure that the materials destined for nuclear weapons components or naval reactor fuel are of suitable high quality. Soil and groundwater samples are also analyzed for hazardous contaminants, and the site’s waste output is also characterized to ensure regulatory compliance.

Improvements at Building 9995 included upgrades of critical heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and electrical system upgrades, and replacement of obsolete radiochemistry hoods. The enhancements to the infrastructure have greatly improved the working environment by reducing risk to operations and enabling the facility to continue meeting Y-12’s extensive analytical chemistry needs.

The total cost of the Building 9995 infrastructure upgrades was $10 million. The improvements were enabled through a $5-million investment by National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Uranium Program Manager Tim Driscoll and matched by $5 million from Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS).

“These successful efforts in Building 9995 are a great example of how NNSA and CNS are working together to effectively address near-term needs in our aging Y-12 facilities,” stated Driscoll.

Significantly benefiting from the upgrades was the radiochemistry lab, which separates isotopes from uranium using concentrated levels of specific acids which, when used, require ventilation hoods capable of meeting certain safety requirements. Prior to the upgrades, only five of the lab’s nine hoods met the safety requirements, which rendered the remaining four hoods out of commission and caused a very crowded work space for technicians. A portion of the $10-million facility funding went toward replacing all nine hoods with lighter shatterproof windows, providing each technician their own hood to safely and efficiently handle hazardous materials.

To learn more about the Y-12 National Security Complex, visit www.y12doe.gov.

Click here to read the original Y-12 press release regarding its recent facility upgrades.

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Lab Spotlight