The management and operations contractor at the Savannah River Site completed 16 facility modifications to continue operations at the Site's H-Canyon facility – the only hardened nuclear chemical separations plant still in operation in the U.S.


According to a press release, Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, or SRNS, had up to eight months to complete the modifications and was able to finish the work in five months.


SRNS stopped dissolver operations at H-Canyon back in March after the contractor declared a positive Unreviewed Safety Question, or a change in the probability of an occurrence or safety breach.


H-Canyon sat in warm standby mode which gave the contractor time to make modifications to the ventilation system.


Construction completed all 16 facility modifications during this time, including sealing abandoned piping, upgrading air filters in the central exhaust system and replacing doors in the exhaust building.


Other work included welding, cutting of pipe, heavy lifting and pouring of concrete.


“Although H-Canyon was constructed in the early 1950s, SRNS continues to upgrade the facility to ensure the Canyon is available for future missions and meets the current safety standards for nuclear facilities,” wrote Paul Hunt, the senior vice president for environmental management operations.


Fred Dohse, SRNS executive vice president and chief operations officer, added that more pre-planning, mock-ups and oversight were conducted to ensure the work would be performed safely and without incident.


“It is a testament to the safety consciousness of our workforce that so many groups came together and safely completed the project. In this project, like many others in our company, we were truly our brother's and sister's keeper,” he wrote.


True to its name, H-Canyon resembles a canyon because the processing areas resemble a gorge in a deep valley between steeply vertical cliffs. The facility is currently dissolving, purifying and preparing for disposal of a variety of nuclear materials.


Derrek Asberry is a beat reporter with the Aiken Standard. He joined the paper in June. He is originally from Vidalia, Ga., and a graduate of Georgia Southern University. Follow him on Twitter @DerrekAsberry.