b'C H A P T E R 11T H E C H E M P L A N Tquietly in the storage canal for a fewmonths just so that short-lived isotopes S u p p o r t loaded with X-ray equipment, shield-like RaLa could decay out of existence. ed boxes, spectrometry, and chro-After that, the fuel could go to the matography instruments.Chem Plant less hazardous to handle. I n a typical office setting in the mid- Radiochemical support could iden-dle of a city, support means theBut the Korean War began in 1950. The administrative functions provided tify alpha, beta, and gamma-emittingAEC needed RaLa for weapons devel- by the personnel, legal, accounting, radionuclides in any solid, liquid, oropment. During World War II, scientists payroll, and similar departments. In gas substance. People in these andat Los Alamos had perfected the pluto- an industrial plant like the CPP, sup- other labs had to use alpha-tight con-nium bomb as an implosion device. port meant a variety of laboratories tainment cells and learn to use gloveExplosive pressure from outside the with special equipment and functions. boxes and remote manipulators tosmall plutonium-239 core pushed the protect themselves from radiation.not-yet-critical mass into a critical Process support meant working outmass. The bomb worked only if the ways to improve the chemical process- Another form of support peculiar to ansphere were compressed at the same es that are the main mission of the environment with radioactivity cameinstant from all sides. This was a prob- plant. This group designed bench-scale from safety specialists, who not onlylem solved with much trial and error pilot experiments and tests to evaluate examined the accumulation of expo-and hundreds of (non-nuclear) test and compare with current practices. sure on personnel badges, but evaluat-explosions. The experimenters used ed techniques and procedures for safeRaLa in test cores to help diagnose the Analytical support meant taking a operation of equipment and processes.efficacy of their gradually improving sample of waste, water, or other sub- They reviewed construction plans totechniques. Work at Los Alamos now stance and determining exactly what see what the safety impacts would befocused on creating thermonuclear was in it and how much and what when parts had to repaired or replacedweapons, and the scientists still concentration. Laboratories were in case of an accident.required RaLa. 5Because RaLa decayed so quickly, thesupplier and the user had to coordinateclosely. When Los Alamos needed aquantity of RaLa for a pending experi-ment, it would inform Oak Ridge (orlater, Idaho). Oak Ridge would removefuel elements from a reactor, cool thema day or two, and drop them into acaustic bath. The caustic dissolved thecladding and the fuel, releasing theSamples were drawn from all stages of the uraniumextraction process and sent to the Remote AnalyticalFacility (until 1986). Here, technicians and scientistsexamined the hot samples to help determine theeffectiveness of the process and ways to improve it.INEEL 62-63499 7'