SANDIA NATIONAL LABORATORIES
The Sandia National Laboratories engages in the following activities:
nuclear weapons research, development, and testing;
explosives testing involving radioactive materials;
accelerator-based nuclear physics research, materials testing, and applied technologies;
reactor-based nuclear physics research and materials testing;
hot cell work to support analysis of fuel and material components;
decontamination and decommissioning of radiological facilities;
radioactive and mixed waste treatment and storage; and
proposed thermal battery and medical radioisotope production.
The Tonapah Test Range was established in 1957 for testing nuclear weapons ballistics,
parachutes, and other non-nuclear functions for Sandia National Laboratories. Fourteen
potential release areas in need of characterization have been identified.
This site has been used for various tests for which a remote site was needed for safety or
security reasons. These tests have involved beryllium, uranium, and plutonium. Plutonium
is the greatest concern, with three areas fenced due to plutonium contamination from
B.13 SAVANNAH RIVER SITE
The Savannah River Site has extensive operations involving plutonium. Both F and B
Areas contain facilities that process irradiated fuel and recover plutonium. Additional
facilities provide analytical and measurement capabilities. Both 238Pu and 239Pu have been
handled and stored at the site.
B.14 VALLICITOS NUCLEAR CENTER
The Vallicitos Nuclear Center is a commercially owned research site near San Francisco
which is no longer active. From 1962 through 1979, the site was used for mixed oxide fuel
fabrication for the DOE. A hot cell onsite was used to examine uranium fuel and reactor
components and was later converted to study mixed oxide (uranium and plutonium) fuel
cell rods. Decontamination is scheduled to begin in 1997.
B.15 WEST VALLEY DEMONSTRATION PROJECT OFFICE
The West Valley Demonstration Project is on the site of the only commercial nuclear fuel
reprocessing plant to operate in the United States. Most of the material processed was
irradiated metallic uranium fuel from the Hanford N-Reactor although commercial fuel was
stored and processed as well. The facility reclaimed uranium and plutonium from the spent
fuel using a process similar to the PUREX process used at Hanford. The decontamination
and decommissioning of the plutonium-contaminated facilities is in progress.