Safety In Construction And Operation Of Underground Facilities

Joseph W. LaComb

Abstract

This paper discusses the need for safety as a team effort, with all personnel involved in a facilities construction project or subsequent operation having incentive to play.

Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA) experiences in construction and operation of underground facilities and the planned construction and eventual operation of the Yucca Mountain Project's (YMP) Exploratory Studies Facility (ESF) have in common the magnitude of the construction efforts and the scope of activities. Considerations include the codes to be followed and their impact, facility design, mass casualty exercises, tunnel boring machine (TBM) experience, and the intent of the codes.

DNA and its contractor team gleaned extensive experience in the development of safety plans and programs for a facility, not simply an excavation. Overemphasis on excavation and mining can lead to a safety program and plan that is not adaptable to a facility. Therefore, at an early stage, construction activities and subsequent facility operations planning must be integrated.

Background

The DNA Weapons Reliability Test Program supports validation of the nuclear survivability, hardness, and effectiveness of U.S. weapon systems. The program includes studies of nuclear effects on strategic and tactical defense systems. It also includes studies of the effects of nuclear airblasts and resulting groundshock on hardened underground targets (modeled at scale) in the underground testbed.

DNA has constructed massive underground facilities in which such tests are conducted. Recording stations underground and at the portal retrieve data from tests. For



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--> Safety In Construction And Operation Of Underground Facilities Joseph W. LaComb Abstract This paper discusses the need for safety as a team effort, with all personnel involved in a facilities construction project or subsequent operation having incentive to play. Defense Nuclear Agency (DNA) experiences in construction and operation of underground facilities and the planned construction and eventual operation of the Yucca Mountain Project's (YMP) Exploratory Studies Facility (ESF) have in common the magnitude of the construction efforts and the scope of activities. Considerations include the codes to be followed and their impact, facility design, mass casualty exercises, tunnel boring machine (TBM) experience, and the intent of the codes. DNA and its contractor team gleaned extensive experience in the development of safety plans and programs for a facility, not simply an excavation. Overemphasis on excavation and mining can lead to a safety program and plan that is not adaptable to a facility. Therefore, at an early stage, construction activities and subsequent facility operations planning must be integrated. Background The DNA Weapons Reliability Test Program supports validation of the nuclear survivability, hardness, and effectiveness of U.S. weapon systems. The program includes studies of nuclear effects on strategic and tactical defense systems. It also includes studies of the effects of nuclear airblasts and resulting groundshock on hardened underground targets (modeled at scale) in the underground testbed. DNA has constructed massive underground facilities in which such tests are conducted. Recording stations underground and at the portal retrieve data from tests. For

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--> example, the horizontal line-of-sight pipe system, used to transmit a radiation pulse from a nuclear device detonation up to 1,350 ft from a ground-zero point, requires an immense underground facilities support plant. This plant must support the containment features in the tunnel complex and those installed in the pipe, the pipe's complex vacuum system, and a massive array of experiments. From this limited description, one may grasp the scale and complexity of the facilities required for the DNA Weapons Reliability Test Program. A typical event or test has several phases, all of which can be in progress simultaneously within a given tunnel facility. These phases are planning, design, exploration, construction, operation, and execution. Yucca Mountain Requirements And Design It has been proposed that the Yucca Mountain ESF be developed similar to DNA underground scenarios for facility development. The implications of this type of facility development are addressed below. However, two additional issues merit attention. First are concerns that the emphasis at Yucca Mountain is on tunnel excavation, while other areas related to facility development may not receive appropriate attention earlier in the project and during construction and operating phases. Second, the various legal codes regulating both construction and facility operations in the underground environment must be addressed. DNA's experience has demonstrated that codes are not necessarily compatible with each other. They do, in fact, present conflicting information at times, resulting in confusion and misinterpretation in the application of requirements for construction versus preparation for beneficial occupancy of underground facilities. In practical application, such misinterpretations proved incompatible with the codes as written. The need to construct a facility implies special design requirements ensuring the ability to safely conduct sustained operations for an indefinite period. In addition to its structural boundaries and layout, a facility includes essential functional systems and equipment, site development features (e.g., storage areas, traffic ways, receiving points, etc.), utilities supply and distribution systems, central utility plants, lighting and communications systems, and other physical plant features (see DOE Order 4700). The Nevada Test Site Underground Construction Standards as applied to tunnel facility construction were developed jointly by the test site community and included DOE, DNA, Reynolds Electrical & Engineering Company (REECo), Raytheon Services of Nevada, EG&G Energy Measurements, and other site participants.

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--> Working groups promulgated underground construction procedures, tunnel ventilation requirements, electrical installation standards, permanent low-maintenance ground support techniques, and other procedures and standards. The Nevada Test Site Underground Construction Standards accomplished the following: generally adopted the most applicable (and restrictive) safety standards from the Mine Safety and Health Administration, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the California Mine and Tunnel Safety Codes; addressed tunnel facility construction at the Nevada Test Site and considered host rock materials and geological forms, and state requirements for environmental safety and health issues; and resolved conflicting provisions in the various federal and state codes. Most significant were precedents established with regard to correcting design inadequacies that affect facility safety either prior to or following the facilities' beneficial use date. This is especially important when considering the dynamic unfolding of legal and technical requirements affecting facility acceptance and use. Acceptable standards today may not meet requirements for safety tomorrow. Prior to commencing facility construction, an appreciation of this state of affairs is essential. DNA-controlled facilities at the Nevada Test Site have experienced this phenomenon in the following areas: tunnel fire suppressant systems; tunnel ventilation requirements; underground electrical code requirements; tunnel access control; and underground secondary access and egress requirements. Consideration of underground facility design factors leads to a realization of a human dimension that affects the design and construction of a facility with the scale and magnitude planned for Yucca Mountain. Once the ESF is operating, expectations and requirements for performing analytical research and work underground, as well as the ability to have normal human support functions available, will drive changes and modifications to the facility. A major cost increase is incurred. Historically, it has proven extremely difficult for facility users to fully articulate their requirements to project and design planners. This is due primarily to the inability of users to completely comprehend the underground environment. There is sometimes a lack of awareness or appreciation of the extensive physical plant support systems necessary for underground activities. It can be difficult to meet user requirements underground even

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--> when such support would appear simple in another environment. Therefore, it is essential to put project planners and users together at the earliest opportunity. Another factor is whether the facility will be temporary or permanent. The codes are often different. If a facility is built under codes for temporary construction and then becomes permanent, it will be very expensive to bring the facility into full compliance. This is particularly true for upgrades or modifications involving electrical systems. DNA's recent experience with such required upgrades has resulted in added costs totaling many millions of dollars. Among the facility-level operations sponsored by DNA and conducted by REECo, the site prime contractor, was an underground mass casualty exercise at the DNA P-Tunnel complex. The exercise scenario emphasized the nature of the underground complex as a facility having amenities required for sustained operations. The objectives of the June 1993 exercise were to: exercise and evaluate emergency responders; train a large cadre of multiorganizational workers in emergency procedures; evaluate each participating organization's notification and accountability procedures; and evaluate the operation and use of emergency equipment during an emergency. Each participating organization had detailed exercise objectives related to their functions at the tunnel complex. REECo, with the greatest number of exercise objectives and the most extensive evaluation network, coordinated the exercise. Afterwards, a detailed report revealed some problems covering facility emergency response. While emergency elements such as paramedics and fire department crews were on site quickly, there were weaknesses in training and notification procedures. The importance of emergency equipment status was highlighted. The critical role played by teams qualified for mine rescue became evident, as did the logistical effort required to conduct such an emergency operation. DNA Findings DNA's experience in the underground test program is highly varied. TBMs, road headers, and drill-and-blast operations have all been used as excavation techniques. DNA used an 18-ft, 6-in TBM to construct the N-Tunnel extension and a parallel drift in Ranier Mesa. Experience gained in maneuvering the TBM for new headings and backing the

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--> equipment underground, as well as steps taken to ensure a safe, efficient TBM operation, are available at DNA to share with the Yucca Mountain staff and others. Further experiences of DNA managers working in construction and operation of underground facilities reveal the need to appreciate the intent of the various legal requirements governing underground activities. Once the management staff understood that such laws are not passed to bring pain into their lives, much could be accomplished. It was necessary for managers to examine and evaluate the various laws and codes to determine what the legal requirements were intended to accomplish. Generally the intent is to benefit the safety of operations. But after a law is written, the effect of the letter of the law often is not directly applicable to the immediate construction or operations in progress at that time. It has been DNA's experience that managers must work at the onset of a project to determine the intent of the law. This is best accomplished by working closely with the safety staff and allowing them to be a part of the bigger mission/project team. The safety staff can help adapt the organization so that operations may proceed efficiently, effectively, and safely. Meeting the letter of the law without careful thought and planning can result in an ineffective safety program, a charade on paper. Understanding and meeting the intent of the law, however, leads to the development of a safety program that is effective, efficient, and productive. Such a program has credibility with the line staff as a no-nonsense program to be honored at all times by all managers and workers. Safety occurs when everyone is involved in making the program work and the intent of the law is met. Comments and Suggestions In a facility project such as the ESF, it is likely that there will be numerous requirements for development of site safety procedures supporting various operational construction activities. Development of site procedures may or may not meet the scrutiny of higher organizational echelons. This can be a point of much contention, as under normal conditions safety engineers in the field make final determinations in many safety-related areas. A clearly defined line of safety review, established early, prevents operational managers from becoming frustrated in their construction efforts. Safety engineers must be integrated into all phases of project execution, with the tempo established during the planning phase. The safety engineer must work closely with planners, other engineers, technicians, estimators, and others to integrate safety features efficiently into facility design. The DNA management team observed the following rules:

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--> There is no substitute for technical expertise, especially among the management staff. Honest communications are essential for an effective team. The staff safety engineer is selected based on the following: a demonstrated level of expertise in both formal education and experience; a confirmed demeanor in the field to speak forthrightly; and the ability to articulate safety-related problem areas, understand multiple engineering methodologies, and assess risks across a wide spectrum of potential safety threats. The safety engineer joins the project's operational staff at the earliest planning stages. Operational managers must understand that they are ultimately responsible for safety in their work areas. Communications should flow both up and down. Attention to detail is critical. The overall safety program must be simple and outside bureaucratic incorporation. Over-complication of safety management fundamentals will sacrifice real work-place safety. The safety analysis report and operational safety plan must be in place before construction begins. Sensitivities in the environmental safety and health arena are such that any deviation from accepted and proven safety practices and construction practices and methods could jeopardize the entire project. Even the perception of less-than-solemn management practices is cause for concern. It represents a potential danger in that managers feel compelled to establish ever more elaborate oversight procedures and managerial checks. In mm, this approach taken to extremes perpetuates the syndrome of a bureaucratic safety program that has become a charade. The organization can appear squeaky clean, having provided a program that is perfect on paper, but in practice is only a sham, ineffective in providing real safety in the work place. DOE should task the lead contractor through a clearly stated mission statement and then allow the work to proceed under the contractor's direction. The lead contractor should weld a team from the support contractors, which should assume full responsibility for safety in facility work areas. DOE should share its experience with contractor staff and keep them informed at all times. DOE's technical representatives must resolve problems as they occur and continue to focus the lead contractor's effort on the task at hand. DOE's technical representatives must understand the fundamentals of assigned contractor duties and must be capable of understanding the levels of effort and the safety implications involved for a variety of technical tasks. Technical representatives must foster

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--> a feeling of mutual trust between government and contractor staffs. Both contracting officers and technical representatives in the field must develop an appreciation of the safety issues and requirements and the extent to which these affect facility construction efforts and operations at federal installations. Summary The hallmark of DNA operations has been persistent and continuing attention to detail in all project phases. The small details are often the ones that ''bite'' regarding safety programs. But the stakes are higher than they have ever been, and management must appreciate this fact. The DNA experience is available to help develop safety programs that are effective, flexible, and understood by all team players. DOE should develop a real safety team, not a charade. A letter-perfect program does not necessarily ensure real work-place safety; the work force usually suspects such a program of being only a sham. Credible programs are always carefully thought out and include the concept of team development. The YMP should consider the procedures and codes developed by the Nevada Test Site users. Review of these documents will clarify many requirements for facility construction and operations.

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