The Transient Reactor Test (TREAT) Facility, located at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), is a versatile test facility able to subject experimental specimens to various transient nuclear conditions. TREAT was placed in standby after operating from February 1959 through April 1994, resulting in the loss of nearly all transient testing capability in the United States. Recently, the US Department of Energy (DOE) determined this capability was again needed. After DOE completed National Environmental Policy Act actions in February 2014, INL established the Resumption of Transient Testing Program (RTTP). RTTP was a multi-year effort to restart TREAT to reestablish a domestic transient testing capability. After 23 years of standby operations, the RTTP completed restart activities on August 31, 2017, 13 months ahead of schedule and nearly $20 million under budget. RTTP activities included an Environmental Assessment that resulted in a Finding of “No Significant Impact” associated with restarting TREAT, establishment of a compliant Safety Analysis Report (SAR), refurbishment and/or replacement of key reactor systems and components, key system knowledge recovery, reestablishment of configuration management, procedure updates, personnel training and qualification, and demonstration of operational readiness for reactor operations. Several noteworthy factors that contributed to the restart of TREAT include:
• Funding to acquire personnel and material resources provided in a timely fashion.
• Close coordination with the regulator’s (DOE) nuclear safety program during updates, interactive review, and approval of safety documentation provided for timely update of the TREAT SAR and implementing documents.
• Effective management control enabled by utilization of standard outage management techniques with a focus on age-related degradation and updated standards and requirements.
• DOE program management ensured efficient implementation of program management tools. These tools focused on clear high-level milestones and spend plans allowing flexibility for the contractor to respond to evolving facility conditions and information in a near-real time manner and with minimal program overhead. This approach enabled efficient execution of work in an environment where determination of required work scope was dependent on performance of inspection, testing, analysis, and evaluation activities.
• Implementation of the Contractor Assurance System, with frequent internal and externally-led assessments that facilitated process improvements and corrective actions to ensure the operational readiness for required contractor and DOE readiness assessments and safe nuclear operations.
• The RTTP benefited from archived plant documentation and maintenance performed while the plant was in a safe-standby status.
• Unique methods of reactivity control allowed for individual and integrated reactor system functional testing, procedure vetting, and personnel training while maintaining the reactor in a safe state.