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Epidemiologic Studies

Rocky Flats Plant Site

Facilities and Equipment





This is the third in a series of seven volumes which constitute a guide to records of the Rocky Flats Plant useful for conducting health-related research. The primary purpose of Volume III is to describe record series pertaining to facilities and equipment at the Department of Energy's (DOE) Rocky Flats Plant, now named the Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site, near Denver, Colorado. History Associates Incorporated (HAI) prepared this guide as part of its work as the support services contractor for DOE's Epidemiologic Records Inventory Project.

This introduction briefly describes the Epidemiologic Records Inventory Project and HAI's role in the project, provides a history of facilities and equipment practices at Rocky Flats, and identifies organizations contributing to facilities and equipment policies and activities. Other topics include the scope and arrangement of this volume and the organization to contact for access to these records. Comprehensive introductory and background information is available in Volume I.

Other volumes in the guide pertain to administrative and general subjects, production and materials handling, workplace and environmental monitoring, employee health, and waste management. In addition, HAI has produced a subject-specific guide, titled The September 1957 Rocky Flats Fire: A Guide to Record Series of the Department of Energy and Its Contractors, which researchers should consult for further information about records related to this incident.

The Epidemiologic Records Inventory Project
The Epidemiologic Records Inventory Project is indicative of DOE Secretary Hazel R. O'Leary's efforts to support openness initiatives in the areas of environment, safety, and health. In view of the importance of various administrative, organizational, and operational records to epidemiologic and health-related studies, a moratorium on the destruction of such records has been in effect since 1989.

In May 1992, the DOE Office of Epidemiology and Health Surveillance (EH-42), responsible for the coordination of health-related activities throughout the DOE complex, directed each DOE and DOE contractor site to prepare an inventory of all records useful for worker or community health-related studies. EH-42 prepared and furnished each site with guidelines that defined epidemiologic records, provided instructions for describing record series, outlined the sites' role in inventorying epidemiologic records, and discussed the relationship of the epidemiologic inventory to DOE's comprehensive records inventory. The epidemiologic inventories should be completed in 1995. It should be noted, however, that some of the information contained in the site records inventories, such as the location of active (still in use) records or the volume of the records, may change over time. The continued usefulness of the inventories and this guide depends on their systematic update.

Role of HAI
In August 1993, DOE selected HAI as its support services contractor for the Epidemiologic Records Inventory Project. HAI, a professional records management, archives, and historical research services firm incorporated in 1981, has provided records management, historical research, and technical support for a number of DOE projects. HAI's role in the project includes verifying the accuracy, comprehensiveness, and quality of existing inventories, providing guidance to site records management teams, and, in some cases, performing additional records inventories.


History of Facilities and Equipment
Before construction began at the current Rocky Flats site, employees planned the new facilities in a converted garage at 13th and Glenarm Streets in Denver. Construction and renovation of existing buildings has continued with little interruption since the site's beginnings in 1951. Throughout its history, buildings and equipment at Rocky Flats were designed and constructed to support the site's central mission of weapon components manufacturing as well as the reduction and treatment of nuclear waste.(1)

In 1951, construction began on Buildings 444, 771, 881, and 991, the first permanent facilities at Rocky Flats.(2) Initial production operations started in April 1952, and by 1954 Rocky Flats was fully operational. Four operational areas, known as the A, B, C, and D Plants, were originally established at the site. Each area functioned as a self-contained unit so that operations in one plant area were not affected by malfunctions in another. Additionally, to maintain security, most employees were bussed only to their assigned buildings and, except for a few select personnel, were unaware of operations conducted in the other plant buildings. Operations at A Plant (Building 444) were devoted to the fabrication of depleted uranium parts. The B Plant, currently known as Building 881, recovered and used enriched uranium to manufacture components. All plutonium manufacturing and recovery operations were housed in the C Plant (Building 771) after it became operational in 1953. D Plant operations in Building 991 consisted of final product assembly.(3)

Several factors led to significant facility changes at Rocky Flats during the late 1950s and 1960s. Buildings 776 and 777 went into service in 1958 to handle the increased need for plutonium machining and handling resulting from weapon design changes. Other facilities built during this period of increased manufacturing included Buildings 447, 883, 997, 998, and 999. Building 881, which was used for enriched uranium machining operations, remained idle from 1964 through 1966 after enriched uranium operations moved to the Oak Ridge Reservation. In 1966, stainless steel operations, also known as the "J Line," began in Building 881 but were moved to Building 444 in 1984. Building 881 currently houses laboratories and other plant support facilities.(4)

Another dramatic increase in production took place at Rocky Flats throughout the late 1960s and 1970s as the Cold War escalated. Among the facilities constructed during this time were the Plutonium Analytical Laboratory (Building 559)Cdesigned for conducting spectrochemical, chemical, and mass spectrometric analysesCand Building 707, which handled machining and foundry operations for plutonium fabrication. Building 371 was designed and planned in 1968 to eventually house expanded plutonium recovery operations which at the time were conducted in Building 771. Plutonium recovery operations were transferred to the new Plutonium Recovery Facility (Building 371) as a pilot project after construction was completed in 1976. Because of design flaws, however, the Plutonium Recovery Modification Project never operated beyond pilot-scale, and chemical processing operations in Building 371 were shut down in 1985.(5)

Two historic fires at Rocky Flats have also significantly impacted facilities and equipment at the site. A fire occurred in Building 771 on September 11, 1957. Immediate restoration of Building 771 after the fire resulted in limited plutonium recovery operations resuming by the end of 1957, although ongoing cleanup of the area continued until 1962. In 1969, a plutonium fire occurred in a glovebox line in Building 776 and spread to Building 777. Because of extensive damage after the fire, foundry operations in Building 776 moved to Building 707. Building 776 handled waste storage and reduction after it became operable again in 1972.(6)

The goal of waste operations at Rocky Flats historically has been to reduce the volume of waste material as much as possible and then convert it into a form acceptable for transfer to offsite burial grounds. As part of this effort, in 1953, Building 774 was built to support Building 771 operations by treating its radioactive aqueous waste. In 1978, the Process Waste Treatment Facility (Building 374) was brought online to process waste more efficiently and safely. Building 374 is now the major waste treatment facility for production buildings at Rocky Flats. In addition, the research and development of pilot-scale waste handling and treatment has occurred in Building 701 since its construction in 1965.(7)

Facilities and Equipment Organizations

Dow Chemical Company (1952-1975)
In the early years of Dow's tenure, new construction and renovation of buildings were handled by the Engineering and Construction Organization. The Maintenance, Service, and Construction Inspection Organization appears to have handled quality assurance and maintenance projects from 1953-1957. Available organizational charts indicate that, as of 1970, the Facilities Engineering Organization and Maintenance Organization were subbranches of the Facilities Organization. From 1971 until Dow's departure, the Engineering and Construction Organization and Maintenance Organization maintained separate functions as subbranches under the Assistant General Manager of Operations.

Rockwell International (1975-1989)
Under Rockwell, the Facilities Engineering and Construction, Facilities Quality Assurance, and Maintenance organizations were self-contained subbranches of the Support Operations organizational unit. The Facilities Engineering and Construction Organization handled facility design, construction coordination, and project management involving plutonium recovery and waste treatment for buildings at Rocky Flats. The Nuclear Facilities and Safety Organization, a subbranch of the Health, Safety and Environment Organization, was responsible for monitoring building conditions that could affect employee health or the environment, such as nuclear criticality controls. Rocky Flats organizational charts also list the Quality Engineering and Control Organization as a separate entity under the purview of the Operations Plant Director from 1975 through 1984.

EG&G (1990-1995)
The Quality Engineering and Control Organization changed its name to the Quality Assurance Organization soon after EG&G became the Rocky Flats prime contractor. Organizational charts in October 1990 indicate two separate organizations were established to maintain building qualityCthe Quality Assurance Organization and Engineering Organization. In 1993, three self-contained organizational units, Engineering and Technology, Maintenance and Plant Support, and Facility Management and Operations, appear to have assumed primary responsibility for facilities at Rocky Flats.


For more complete information regarding access to the records, please refer to Volume I. The Department of Energy's Rocky Flats Plant: A Guide to Record Series Useful for Health-Related Research.

For specific information or permission to review Rocky Flats records, contact:

U.S. Department of Energy
Records Management Department
Contracts and Services Division
Rocky Flats Office
P.O. Box 928
Golden, CO 80402-0928
Telephone Number: (303) 966-6177


Administering construction projects at Rocky Flats over the years generated numerous records that document facility design, quality control, maintenance, and the progress of projects. Blueprints, floor plans, contractor compliance records, inspection reports, work logs, planning materials, equipment specifications, and financial records are among the records included in this category and described in this volume. In particular, Volume III pertains to records that document the construction of Buildings 371 and 374, which were part of the plutonium recovery modification project. Fires, accidents, and concerns about the possibility of damage from natural occurrences have produced a variety of records documenting efforts to research, design, and maintain safe equipment and facilities at the site.

This volume reflects information collected from research conducted during site visits from March 1994 through January 1995. Users of this volume should note that omissions are likely due to the nature of the records targeted for research. For example, the June 6, 1989, seizure of records by the Federal Bureau of Investigation rendered an unknown quantity of records unavailable for review by HAI staff. Moreover, HAI team members did not inventory records stored in radiation-controlled areas.

HAI relied on existing finding aids prepared for Rocky Flats records. HAI was unable to verify that these research tools include all records that may exist. In addition, researchers should note that records at all of the repositories listed in this volume may be moved, transferred to a different location, reviewed for changes in disposition authority, and changed to a different format (i.e., from paper to microfilm).


Records series in this volume are arranged alphabetically. For further information about specific data fields in the series descriptions, please refer to Volume I. The Department of Energy's Rocky Flats Plant: A Guide to Record Series Useful for Health-Related Research.


1. ChemRisk, Project Tasks 3 & 4: Final Draft Report: Reconstruction of Historical Rocky Flats Operations and Identification of Release Points (1992), 47.

2. In the early years, Rocky Flats' facilities were known by different names. Building 444 was referred to as Building 44 or Plant A; Building 771 was referred to as Building 71 or Plant C; Building 881 was referred to as Building 81 or Plant B; Building 991 was referred to as Building 91 or Plant D.

3. ChemRisk, Project Tasks 3 & 4, 47, 51.

4. Ibid., 51, 54, 68, 72.

5. Ibid., 51, 60, B-31, B-46.

6. Ibid., 73, B-46, B-66; see generally, History Associates Incorporated, "Introduction" in The September 1957 Rocky Flats Fire: A Guide to Record Series of the Department of Energy and Its Contractors (July 1995).

7. ChemRisk, Project Tasks 3 & 4, 80, 82, B-3, B-43.

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