D3 Operation Experience

Explosives Safety Principles Successfully Applied to Decommissioning of Operating Buildings

SMS provided key safety and design support for the decommissioning, decontamination and demolition (D3) operations of the Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne (PWR) Chemical Systems Division manufacturing facility located in San Jose, California (2004 – 2009). Since the early 1960s, PWR scientists and engineers developed and manufactured advanced rocket propulsion systems to support space exploration, national defense, and international communications.

The PWR facility consisted of over 230 structures on 5,200 acres. The structures supported manufacturing of large-scale solid rocket motors (grinding, feed systems, mixing/casting, curing, etc.), manufacturing of liquid rocket motors, research and development activities, liquid and solid rocket motor test systems, energetic destruction and waste treatment systems, site maintenance, and administration.

ARCADIS was the prime contractor with team members including SMS (explosives safety), VES (specialty and high hazard decontamination), PIKA (thermal treatment), and Sevenson (demolition, rigging, and earthwork). Utilizing systematic risk management, all high-hazard buildings with associated processing equipment have been safely removed, requiring over 900,000 man hours worked under difficult and challenging circumstances with no Lost Time injuries.

SMS has applied proven hazards analysis methodologies in the approach to assessment, decontamination and demolition of equipment and materials. The material recovered that was deemed unsafe to handle or transport was first treated or safely destroyed on site. Thermal verification of equipment was employed when appropriate.

In coordination with VES and ARCADIS personnel, systems were developed to safely and accurately assess, categorize, inventory, disassemble and decontaminate equipment and facilities. SMS was instrumental in evaluating the suitability of various technologies for remote pipe cutting, boroscope inspection, thermal and/or chemical treatment, and destruction in place. SMS performed qualitative and quantitative hazards analyses as part of the evaluation to establish proper design and operating specifications based on potential risks and the associated hazard ranking (severity and probability).

SMS explosives classification expertise was utilized to ensure that equipment and facilities were decontaminated and disassembled to a point that they were safe to handle and either transport to a disposal facility or transport to a third party for reuse or recycle, based on the intrinsic value of the material/item. The energetic material recovered that was deemed unsafe to handle or transport was first treated or safely destroyed on site.

SMS regularly provided formal training on Explosives Recognition and Decontamination to over 550 personnel performing work in the field over the course of the project.