Charging/Work Area

The charging area, or work area, was a large concrete room in front of the charging (front) face of the pile. It was large enough so that any of the 40 ft long aluminum process tubes could be inserted or removed from the pile for maintenance purposes.

The B Reactor was a production pile, and needed an efficient means for adding new fuel to the pile and removing the irradiated, plutonium-bearing fuel, while also maintaining safety for the workers. The combination of the pile’s process tubes and aluminum-clad fuel slugs made this a relatively straightforward process: operators would push new fuel and dummy slugs into a tube from the front face, while any slugs already in the tube would be pushed out the rear face. This process, known as pushing, was therefore one of charging and discharging at the same time. In spite of this simplicity, the process was greatly impeded by several factors: