b'P ROVING THE P RINCIPLEof air is sufficient shielding. This char-acteristic differentiated Rocky Flatswaste from fission- or activation-prod-uct waste producing beta particles orgamma rays, which required strongershielding. When the sealed drums ofTRU waste arrived at the BurialGround, workers handled them withnothing more than a gloved hand.Typically drums were taken off theback of the truck and hand stacked inrows in the center of a pit. Material thatarrived in wooden crates went aroundthe edge of the pit. Sometimes, workershandled unusual volumesand pack-agesof waste, as labor foreman ClydeHammond recalled: 18Courtesy U.S. Department of Energy-Rocky Flats 26568-02Once we got a bunch of stuff from a By the time of the fire, the BurialCalifornia contractor who buried wasteGrounds first thirteen acresand tenat sea. He had it all ready to bury and trencheshad been filled up. Inthen he went broke. He had it already November 1957, two months after theloaded, so it came out to the Site, and fire, the IDO opened up new acreage.they were all concrete barrels. Some ofWorkers began digging pits for thethose barelsrweighed more than a ton bulky post-fire increase of TRU waste.apiece. So we buried them out here. They continued using trenches for theNRTSs own fission- and activation-They had a big spill at Rocky Flats, product waste. However, when some-Colorado, and we got their whole plantone at the NRTS generated an item tooout there, lathes even. It was a big bulky for the narrow trenches, the prac- U.S. Department of Energy 350 074 001mess. Tuckrafter truckloads of stuff. tical thing to do was to place it in one Above. Work stations inside the Rocky Flats19of the Rocky Flats pits. Thus, different fabrication plant had numerous glove ports. Below.The big spill at Rocky Flats was waste types were mixed together in Sealed enclosures called glove boxes allowed forcaused by a fire in September 1957. A some areas. The main difference workers to handle plutonium without direct exposuresmall pile of plutonium shavings ignit- between a trench and a pit was the to it.ed spontaneously in a glove box. shape of the excavation. Pits were ofInexplicably, the glove box was made varying sizes. Some of the large onesof acutely flammable plexiglas, and the were up to 300 feet wide and 1,100 feetfire raced out of control through the long. Others were as small as 50 feetbuilding. The fire blew out or burned wide by 250 feet long. The work pre-hundreds of ventilation filters and melt- sented certain challenges to equipmented the top of an exhaust stack. The operators. Hammond recalled how theybulky clean-up debris went to the solved one of them: 21NRTS Burial Ground packed in thou-sands of barrels. 208 0'