Building 771 History at the Rocky Flats Plant

Building 771 History at Rocky Flats

This document is intended to be a central, unclassified, reference for the history of Building 771. This is important for both near term transition and long term decontamination and decommissioning planning. This building, like several others in the nuclear weapons production complex, has had a history characterized by several unique factors:

1) The building has been continuously supporting complex operations involving very large amounts of toxic and radioactive materials.

2) Access has been restricted and knowledge of processes has been classified. This has restricted the flow of information regarding important events bearing on cleanup activities. There are many “unknown conditions.”

3) Safety standards have changed over time making previously acceptable operations now unacceptable.

4) Priorities have changed. In the years of maximum output, production was the number one priority. Actions were taken that may have been at a higher risk to safety than acceptable by today’s standards. Many process modifications didn’t include removal and/or cleanup of original equipment

5) Only a few people are available who know the history, are aware of what was happening on a day-to-day basis, and understand why decisions were made in Building 771.

In the current environment, the main emphasis is focused on environmental restoration and waste management activities. This document provides information and gives all involved a sense of the depth and complexity of the clean up issues needing to be addressed.

As Building 771 (B771) undergoes a transfer from production (DOE DP) to decontamination and decommissioning (DOE EM), information on the facility conditions must be gathered to provide for a controlled transition from one organization to another. Many facility and process modifications were made during its forty year lifetime and documentation is not readily available. Therefore, an effort was undertaken to collect this data. Building 771 processed vast amounts of plutonium and other actinides. Processing occurred in a production mode with a full 3-shift per day operation for nearly four decades. The result is a well
worn, heavily used facility with potential for widespread low level contamination in all laboratory areas. The Rocky Flats Plant (RFP) mission is currently undergoing a significant change. The transition of the “landlord” responsibility for several of the production facilities is being made from Office of Defense Programs (DP) to the Office of Environmental Restoration and Waste Management (EM). Characterization of the “as-found” configurations for turnover of these DP facilities is necessary to determine the appropriate planning for a smooth transition. This facility history document is the first part of the transition. This document contains historic data on the following areas:

• Characterization of the facility (e.g., “as-found” configuration, radioactive material and hazardous chemical inventories)
• Contamination mapping of the facility

Rocky Flats Building 771 History