It will take Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California about a week to fix broken windows on a glove-box in the Departent of Energy site’s Plutonium Facility, once the work starts.
The four windows broke Dec. 19, after a seal connecting the glove-box furnace failed and caused the interior of the system to negatively pressurize, according to a DOE description of the event. No one was hurt, and there was no release of radiation from the glove box into the lab’s Building 332, a Livermore spokesperson said Friday via email.
Only the glove-box’s interior windows broke, according to the department description Exterior windows remained intact and the equipment could be used without risk to the operator, DOE said. Nevertheless, the glove box was put into maintenance mode after the accident.
The Livermore spokesperson would not say whether lab personnel had started replacing the broken glass, or how long it would take to replace or repair the seal that failed. Likewise, the spokesperson would not identify the program for which the glove box was needed.
Glove boxes with furnaces can be used to safely shape radioactive materials. Among other things, Livermore conducts plutonium metallurgy research in Building 332.
Like the older Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, Livermore is tasked with ensuring nuclear weapons — and the fissile material that powers them — will still perform as designed, despite the ongoing U.S. moratorium on nuclear explosive tests.