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Radioactive Waste Cleanup Project Becomes More Efficient, Greener

Bechtel Jacobs is now attaching EPC Gen 2 RFID tags to all trucks hauling hazardous waste for disposal at the East Tennessee Technology Park.
By Claire Swedberg
Mar 03, 2010After a yearlong pilot project of an RFID-based solution designed to manage and track material for the largest decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) effort undertaken at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), Bechtel Jacobs is now expanding its usage of the technology. The solution, described as "a fully automated electronic shipping system," is designed to increase transportation operational efficiencies within the organization.

Bechtel Jacobs is responsible for the cleanup of the ETTP, located in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The decontamination and decommissioning of the K-25 building complex, as well as various auxiliary and support buildings, are the contract's primary scope. The K-25 project, alone, has been estimated to generate more than 300,000 cubic yards of waste materials (more than 30,000 shipments) for packaging, transportation and disposal.

The solution employs passive EPC Gen 2 RFID tags and interrogators, in conjunction with GlobeRanger's iMotion platform.

Cleanup activities within the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge Reservation address environmental legacies from the Manhattan Project and nuclear energy research. These activities include environmental remediation, the decontamination and decommissioning of radioactively contaminated facilities, and disposition of the radioactive waste. Transporting and disposing of contaminated and hazardous waste products require compliance with numerous transportation, health and safety, radiological, physical security, classification and nuclear material control and accountability requirements. Every shipment of waste generated from the D&D process requires information regarding that waste, the trucks that carry it, and the results of inspections performed. Once the waste is delivered to the disposal facility, additional information must be captured documenting the shipment's receipt, as well as the waste's disposal within the facility, explains D. Dean Newton, director of information technology at Turnkey Transportation, which is managing Bechtel Jacobs's RFID initiative.

Bechtel Jacobs transports as much as 3.5 million pounds of construction debris to the disposal facility per day. As of this month, Newton says, the system tracks approximately 136 shipments daily, based on current D&D activities. The system has eliminated the amount of paperwork previously required for each shipment, while improving operational efficiency and establishing 'best practices' for the Department of Energy's environmental sustainability programs.

"We have seen more than 25 minutes of cycle time savings per truck shipment for the disposition of waste from the project to/from the disposal facility, as well as reductions in manual data entry errors," Newton states, "and have fully automated on-site observations and scale operations, ensuring consistent data quality."

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