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Figure 6.8. Reduction in Neutron Dose Equivalent Rate for Various Slab Shields for Plutonium Oxide Sources - doe-std-1128-98_ch10191
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DOE Standard Guide of Good Practices for Occupational Radiological Protection In Plutonium Facilities
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Regulations and Standards - doe-std-1128-98_ch10194


DOE-STD-1128-98
7.0
NUCLEAR CRITICALITY SAFETY
This chapter will emphasize present-day criticality concerns from the standpoint of what
health physics personnel need to know to ensure that the DOE mission is accomplished in a
safe and cost effective manner. It provides an overview of the administrative and technical
elements of current nuclear criticality safety programs. It does not provide a definitive
discourse on nuclear criticality safety principles or repeat existing guidance. For health
physics personnel who require a greater understanding of nuclear criticality safety, the
references contained here provide a source of such detailed requirements and information.
Nuclear criticality safety issues at DOE facilities historically have been concerned with
manufacturing plutonium, processing plutonium into weapon components, and storing
weapon components and weapons in safe arrays. With DOE's newly identified mission of
concluding much of the plutonium production and decommissioning of production reactors
and processing facilities, today's nuclear criticality safety concerns have changed. While the
historic nuclear criticality safety issues remain with the storage of weapons and associated
components, current concerns include the disassembly of weapons, processing, and
disposition of unique plutonium materials (commonly referred to as "legacy materials"),
and decommissioning of production reactors and processing facilities.
Radiation protection personnel should understand nuclear criticality principles and the
impact of these principles on radiological conditions that result from the processing,
handling, and storage of fissionable materials. Radiation protection personnel provide an
additional knowledgeable resource to help recognize workplace situations that might lead
to the violation of a nuclear criticality control parameter that could contribute to an
inadvertent nuclear criticality event. There have been occasions in the history of the nuclear
industry when radiation protection personnel have observed and stopped unsafe actions by
facility personnel that, if allowed to continue, might have resulted in an inadvertent nuclear
criticality. Radiation protection personnel must also be aware of the potential impact of
actions that may be routine for normal radiation protection practice, but which could result
in the violation of a nuclear criticality control parameter. Finally, radiation protection
personnel provide significant support in emergency response actions should an inadvertent
nuclear criticality occur. These actions include use of emergency instrumentation, accident
dosimetry, radiological dose assessment, and recovery.
This chapter reviews (1) nuclear criticality safety regulations and standards applicable to
DOE facilities, (2) criticality control factors, (3) past criticality accidents and associated
lessons learned, (4) roles, responsibilities, and authorities of health physics staff with regard
to nuclear criticality safety, (5) the content of an acceptable nuclear criticality safety
program, and (6) a summary of the criticality safety issues identified in DOE/DP-0123T,
Assessment of Plutonium Storage Safety Issues at Department of Energy Facilities (DOE,
1994a).
7-1


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