Volume 9, Issue 3 (March 2012)
Dosimetry of the Decommissioned High-Flux Beam Reactor at Brookhaven Lab
The high-flux beam reactor (HFBR) at the Brookhaven National Laboratory was a heavy water cooled and moderated reactor that achieved criticality on Oct. 31, 1965. It operated at a power level of 40 megawatts. An equipment upgrade in 1982 allowed operations at 60 megawatts. After a 1989 reactor shutdown to reanalyze safety impact of a hypothetical loss of coolant accident, the reactor was restarted in 1991 at 30 megawatts. The HFBR was shut down in December 1996 for routine maintenance and refueling. At that time, a leak of tritiated water was identified by routine sampling of groundwater from wells located adjacent to the reactor’s spent fuel pool. The reactor remained shut down for almost three years for safety and environmental reviews. In November 1999 the United States Department of Energy decided to permanently shut down the HFBR. The decontamination and decommissioning of the HFBR complex, consisting of multiple structures and systems to operate and maintain the reactor, were complete in 2009 after removing and shipping off all the control rod blades. The emptied and cleaned HFBR dome, which still contains the irradiated reactor vessel, is presently under 24/7 surveillance for safety. Detailed dosimetry performed for the HFBR decommissioning during 1996–2009 is described in the paper.