Barnhart Handles Removal and Transportation Of Decommissioned Reactor

Nov 13, 2003

(MEMPHIS, Tenn.)---Barnhart Crane & Rigging Co., a leading provider of heavy rigging and transport solutions, recently removed and transported the decommissioned nuclear reactor and steam drum from a Michigan nuclear plant.

The company was contracted to remove and transport the 120-ton reactor that measured approximately 25 feet high by 13 feet in diameter.

Barnhart crews delivered a 230,000-lb. reactor shipping container to the containment construction access area (CCA) using two temporary slide beam saddles and 18 lines of Goldhofer platform. The container was then loaded into an A-frame and sliding saddle system designed and fabricated by Barnhart Crane & Rigging.

Next, the empty reactor shipping container was upended by means of a 150-ton-capacity removable trunnions and basketing device that was also designed and fabricated by Barnhart engineers. “This part called for great precision,” said the project engineer for the Michgan nuclear plant contract, “because the upending process involved sliding the A-frames inside the CCA while simultaneously lifting and traveling with the gantry crane to upend the container.”

The engineering and lift team used 150-ton hydraulic jacks/shim plates and jacks stands to finish the upending process so as not to overload the crane or pull the empty container out of the A-frames.

Barnhart supplied hydraulic jacks, miscellaneous cribbing and the 300-ton load cells to support the entire weight of the reactor. The loaded reactor shipping container was down-ended using a slide system, hanging links from the gantry crane hook, the A-frames and the top cover plate with lugs for lowering. Much of the system utilized was fabricated by Barnhart. The loaded container weighed approximately 568,000 lbs.

“We lifted the reactor from the encasement and put it into the empty container. We rotated the container 90 degrees by hand, utilizing a 500-ton swivel, and set it on an 18-line Goldhofer platform with a mounted Reactor Vessel Transport System,” the project engineer said.

Barnhart crews transported the reactor 52 miles and through three counties using two 1,200-hp Pacific Prime Movers nicknamed “Elvis” and “Big Daddy.” The route required three bridges to be “jumped,” using barge ramps to distribute the weight load (some 772,000 lbs.) evenly, allowing the heavy cargo to cross the bridges safely.

According to Tim Fielder, project manager, Barnhart Crane & Rigging, “There was tremendous coordination with the local utilities and public safety officials, raising lines and ensuring that we had clear passage between the plant and the railroad.”

A rail transfer system, utilizing an 800-ton gantry system similar to that used at the CCA, was set up to transfer the loaded reactor shipping container from the Goldhofer to an 18-dolly railcar for movement to South Carolina.

“The completion of this project is the culmination of more than four years of work represented by the design and fabrication of a U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved shipping container, removal of the reactor vessel from its location in the plant’s containment building, placing and sealing the vessel in the container and, finally, safely transporting it to the Barnwell [S.C., licensed disposal] site,” said the contracting project manager.

The company then handled the removal and transport of a 200,000-lb. steam drum from the decommissioned nuclear power plant. Barnhart was contracted to remove and haul the steam drum, which measured nearly 41 feet long, with a diameter of about 10 feet.

Barnhart employed an overhead gantry to remove the drum, which was placed on a six-line Goldhofer platform. The steam drum was transported 13 ½ miles to a railroad, at which point the Barnhart team utilized a 300-ton crane to lift the component and set it onto a 10-dolly railcar for transport to Utah.

The plant site general manager said, “The safe transport and disposal of the reactor vessel is a testament to the precise planning that has taken place over the past several years and represents a giant step forward toward our mission of returning our site to a green field, free for unrestricted use.”

The nuclear plant was in operation for 35 years and was the nation’s longest-running nuclear power plant when it ceased operations on August 29, 1997. Beginning operations on December 8, 1962, the plant was the world’s first high power-density boiling water reactor and the fifth commercial nuclear power plant in the United States. The project will return the site to its natural green state.

Barnhart has performed the heavy component removal for half of the commercial nuclear decommission projects in the United States, including the removal of a 900-ton reactor containment package at a facility in Maine, in 2002.

Barnhart Crane & Rigging, established in 1969, is a leading national supplier of specialized heavy rigging and transportation solutions. The company, with 13 locations across the United States, also provides crane services, machinery moving and plant relocations, as well as project cargo logistics and heavy equipment storage at its 100-acre, 700,000-square-foot warehouse facility in Memphis, Tenn. Barnhart Crane & Rigging, an ISO 9001 certified supplier, also operates terminal facilities at the Port of Memphis and the deepwater Port of Mobile, Ala. For more information, visit

Contact information:
Barnhart Crane & Rigging Co. (Home Office) (901) 775-3000 or toll-free (800) 727-0149

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