DALLAS, TX, August 11, 2009 – Axcess International, a leader in automated identification, tracking and sensing solutions, announced today that it has successfully increased worker safety and saved the government time and money by wirelessly automating the process of weighing and identifying loads of radioactive and hazardous materials on transport trucks and automatically generating reports for Washington Closure Hanford. The work is being done at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Hanford Site, a 586-square-mile decommissioned nuclear production complex along the Columbia River in southeastern Washington State.
Although safety procedures and waste disposal practices have improved considerably since the early days of World War II and the Cold War, production of plutonium left hundreds of contaminated buildings and thousands of contaminated waste sites that are now being cleaned up. For example, Washington Closure, one of the Hanford cleanup contractors, is responsible for cleaning up 370 waste sites, demolishing 486 buildings, placing 3 nuclear facilities in interim safe storage and managing the Environmental Restoration Disposal Facility (ERDF), where Hanford’s low-level and mixed cleanup wastes are disposed.
“Axcess’ RFID technology automatically identifies the trucks and containers as they enter the disposal facility. As the trucks go through the scale to be weighed, the truck and container weights, the load weight and the load contents are automatically reported and accessible. This method of record keeping is signicantly better than the manual method used in the past,” said Todd Nelson, a spokesman for Washington Closure. “It gives us an accurate read on exactly how much waste is placed in the disposal facility.”
Axcess’ patented MicroWireless system at the Hanford Site uses small, battery powered dual-frequency RFID tags that, when automatically activated with a wake-up signal, transmit a wireless ID message 30 to 100 feet to nearby palm-size receivers, which are small enough to be hidden. The receivers are connected via an industry standard interface to existing security alarm equipment and a gate controller to open a gate at the weigh station automatically when an authorized metal mounted FleetTagTM on the 28 transport trucks or 720 waste containers is present. Axcess’ reader picks up the identification of the trucks and containers and their profiles. Simultaneously, the containers’ tags are read to determine the weight of the load. The data is relayed to system software where reports are automatically generated in real time, reducing the staff by one shift worker whose job it was to decipher the handwritten reports and enter the data.
An average of 250 containers or 6,500 tons of waste is disposed daily. Drivers will log more than one million miles in 2009 while disposing of nearly one million tons of waste.
“One of the biggest hazards our drivers faced was the repetitive motion of getting in and out of the truck and climbing the five feet up and down to record information at the scales,” said Frank Farmer, Deputy Operations Manager for Waste Operations at Washington Closure. “Automating that process completely eliminated the fall hazard at the weigh station. What was an injury-prone, repetitive process with errors became a transparent operation.”