b'P ROVING THE P RINCIPLElanthanum and (about 250) otherThe Chem Plant removed the U-235 in The Foster Wheeler Company designedfission products into the soup. The lan- a sequence of steps. Upon dissolving the origianl plant. The Bechtel Corpora-thanum was then recovered in a cen- the fuel and its cladding in an acid, the tion built it. The first operator, Am eri c antrifuging process and shipped quickly next steps, called extraction cycles, Cyanamid, managed construction, hiredto Los Alamos.introduced a chemical solvent that operating personnel, and developed thewould form a compound only with the first safety procedures and operatingThe dissolving process also liberated uranium. Then the compound was manuals. It took thirty-one months togases, among them radioactive iodine- extracted and refined. Along the way, build and cold-test the plant, making it131. The gas went through a filter and water was added to dilute the solutions ready for the first hot run. The designersup a stack into the environment. It was to a composition suitable for extraction had borrowed freely from existing tech-the filtration system at Oak Ridge that and to help prevent accidental criticali- no ogy, as Don Reid recalled. 9l was so ineffective. With a half-life of ties. Later in the process, some of theabout eight days, iodine could settle water was evaporated. At first the sol- Foster Wheeler.took the flow sheetsonto blades of grass and eventually vent was hexone (methylisobutyl developed by Oak Ridge and, usingcontaminate the milk of cows that ate ketone), a chemical cousin of acetone their oil refinery knowledge, convertedthe grass. Hanfords virtue, aside from (used in nailpolish remover). In 1955, these flow sheets to a commercial plant.its ready supply of fuel, was its isola- the Chem Plant was modified and the Their nomenclature and drawings aretion. 6 extraction process improved with the still in use at ICPP. It was started inuse of tributyl phosphate in the first haste because it was a war planttheOak Ridge scientists persuaded AEC extraction cycle. Among other effects Korean War was on.Headquarters that it would be more of this new process, the changeseconomical to produce RaLa in Idaho. expanded the capacity of the plant. 8They could add a RaLa capability to The Chem Plant in 1956 with Big Southern Butte tothe Chem Plant for perhaps $20 million the south. The process building is at center right; theless than building a plant at Hanford. storage basins, at the southern edge of the complex.The MTR could supply spent fuel everyseventeen days. So it was done. TheAEC assigned the RaLa operation tothe Chem Plant, adding a small sub-sidiary defense mission to its originalpeaceful purpose. 7The Chem Plant might be thought of asa kitchen-in-reverse. Instead of puttingingredients together to make bread orcookies, the system was designed tobegin with a finished product andrecover only one of the original ingre-dients, say the sugar, and refine it so itcould be used again. As in the case ofRaLa, a secondary ingredient mightalso be retrieved. The rest of the ingre-dients and whatever chemicals it tookto recover the prized ones wouldbecome wastes.INEEL 56-1129 8'