United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

UNC Naval Products

1.0 Site Identification

Type of Site: Complex Decommissioning
Location: Old Saybrook,CT
License No.: SNM-368 Terminated
Docket No.: 070-00371 Former
License Status: Terminated License
Project Manager: Laurie Kauffman

2.0 Site Status Summary

The former United Nuclear Corporation (UNC) Naval Products facility is located in New Haven, Connecticut. The site is located near an industrial redevelopment area. Licensed material was used for research and fabrication of nuclear fuel components for the U.S. Navy. The radioactive material used at the site was primarily enriched uranium with lesser quantities of natural uranium, depleted uranium, and thorium. The work was performed in a large building containing chemistry laboratories and an assembly area. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) released the site for unrestricted use and the site has since been utilized for commercial activities.

The UNC Naval facility was operated by Olin Mathieson Chemical Corporation (Olin) from 1956-1961 and by UNC from 1961-1976. In 1960, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) issued Olin a special nuclear materials license (SNM-368) for the fabrication and manufacturing of reactor fuel components. The license was later transferred to UNC in 1961. In 1974, UNC transferred licensed operations from the New Haven facility to a facility in Montville, Connecticut. Following the decontamination and decommissioning of the site, the NRC performed surveys of the New Haven facility and amended License No. SNM-368 to remove the New Haven facility from the license. Consistent with guidelines at the time, the site was released for unrestricted use. The NRC terminated License No. SNM-368 in 1994 after the UNC facility in Montville, Connecticut was decontaminated and decommissioned.

In the 1990s, NRC initiated an evaluation of terminated licenses to determine if the facilites that had been released for unrestricted use met the current NRC release criteria. Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) supported NRC in conducting the reviews. The UNC facility in New Haven was identified as a site for additional review. Results of sampling at the New Haven facility identified areas (beneath a concrete slab and trench inside the warehouse and inside an inactive sewer system) with enriched uranium concentrations in soil and sediment that exceeded the then current release criteria of 1.11 Becquerels/gram (Bq/g) (30 picocuries/gram [pCi/g]) established in 1981.

The NRC contacted the former UNC facility in New Haven, which had been acquired by General Electric Corporation (GE) in 1997, concerning the elevated uranium contamination. GE agreed to undertake the remediation of the former facility. Later in 1998, GE informed NRC that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) had accepted financial responsibility for remediation costs. A characterization plan and a decommissioning plan were developed and approved by NRC in 1999. In 2008, the NRC re-approved the characterization and decommissioning plans and also approved UNC/GE’s final status survey plan.

In April 2011, NRC met with UNC/GE representatives and discussed initiating the remediation and decommissioning of the former facility and the release of the property and surrounding area for unrestricted release using the 1981 criteria.

In September 2011, UNC/GE commenced remediation activities and, as of July 2012, had remediated most of the areas that were described in their decommissioning plan. During the clean-up activities, UNC/GE identified additional soils under portions of the warehouse that exceeded the 1981 criteria. UNC/GE identified challenges to remediating these areas because they impacted structural supports associated with the warehouse. UNC/GE initiated a sampling program to determine the extent and magnitude of the uranium soil contamination in these relatively inaccessible areas. In July 2012, UNC/GE submitted an addendum to their 1998 decommissioning plan that utilized a dose-based release criteria using the current version of the RESRAD computer code (Version 6.5).

In 2014, the NRC completed its review of a revised Characterization Survey Plan for the UNC Naval site.   The plan details the strategy for that will be implemented to assess conditions in areas that have exhibited some level of contamination but are a challenge to actively remediate.

3.0 Major Technical or Regulatory Issues


4.0 Estimated Date For Closure


Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, November 07, 2014