Contractor employees in the HB Line facility and H Canyon EM contractor employees have creatively changed how they monitor the recently closed HB Line facility at the Savannah River Site, using existing resources and saving approximately $1.8 million annually.
Workers placed HB Line, which is located atop the H Canyon chemical separations facility, in safe shutdown in 2020. That work included inventory reductions and system and equipment shutoffs.
In 2018, DOE suspended plutonium oxide production at HB Line and directed the facility's shutdown to be reversible so it can operate in the future if needed. As a result, several of the facility’s systems remain operational and require routine surveillance and maintenance along with minimum staffing to facilitate operations and emergency response.
“We recognized early on that we would be able to support the bulk of the facility surveillance and maintenance activities with a days-only shift rotation,” said Nick Miller, the H Canyon facility manager for SRS management and operations contractor Savannah River Nuclear Solutions. “However, leaving the facility unmonitored overnight was not an option given the operating equipment and facility conditions. Our answer was to develop a remote monitoring program using cameras, which would allow H Canyon personnel to remotely monitor the HB Line facility at night.”
Installing the camera system in the HB Line control room and training H Canyon operators to monitor the camera while performing their other duties allowed SRS to remove the night shift operators from HB Line and resulted in a reduction of shifts from four to two.
Other H Canyon operators were trained to perform rounds in the HB Line once per night to verify safety and respond to any abnormal conditions. This resulted in the reduction of approximately 14 positions in the HB Line, which results in an annual savings of approximately $1.8 million of taxpayer money. Employees whose positions were eliminated at HB Line were transferred to other SRS missions, including work at H Canyon.
“The H Area team developed a creative solution to the challenging problem and assumed more work responsibilities, all as part of a continuing effort to deliver value to the Department of Energy and to taxpayers,” Miller added. “I am proud to be a part of such a creative and highly capable team.”