I overheard people at the next table talking about an Army vehicle which was going off the road down around Durango and rolled over in the canyon.
They described in such a way that I knew it was one these converted ambulance vehicles. I did not want to let them know that I knew what it was, and they did not know what it was, they had just gotten word from somebody around there who had been with the Army vehicle. When I got back to New York, I made some discreet inquiries and found out, yes it had been. This was an empty, they were carrying empties, nobody was killed, and there was no breach of security either. I got the whole thing straightened out. Sanger : I think Simpson said they had a wreck once but they were coming back empty when it happened.
This was on this side of the run, a minor accident. He said that was the only—. Sanger : It is lucky, I suppose, that nothing did happen when they were fully loaded, obviously.
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I guess the containers would have been Greager : They would have withstood even a head-on crash for that matter. Greager : Yeah, and very rugged. As I told you, they dropped them from some terrific height just to make sure, and on a concrete surface. They had to stand up to that. They were spherical in shape, which was the optimum size for damage resistance. Greager : Yeah, about that size, but not large.
Greager : No, that is the sample can, and a lid was screwed on there. Then that went inside a steel container that was just a carrier. Greager : That was round. It had flanges at the top and the bottom, and there was packing in there too, to cushion things. But the dropping test was done just on the pure stainless steel sample can.
Greager : Well, I remember hearing thirty feet, but I also heard a figure higher than that. Greager : I am not sure that any of them are living. The one that everybody talks about a great deal was Frank Drum. These crane operators, you know, had only monocular vision. Everybody marveled at the way they would manipulate things, use the crane hook hanging down on a long cable. We talked to them over the years and turns out they use all these sorts of little tricks, shadows as much as anything else, to tell them how far down they were.
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Of course, they could see what position they were on at least two axes , but they had no way to know where they were. All the equipment was maintained at the end of a crane hook.
Most cells were standard. They had a standard set of connections, and you would have to replace a connection from here to here to a centrifuge to the wall. They designed it the way it is supposed to be, and then you would take it to this mockup area to make sure it would actually meet here and meet here like it was supposed to, because they used impact wrenches.
They used an impact wrench to make all these connections. And again, at the end of a thirty or forty foot cable with a hook on it. Greager : No, no. We built two separation plants to start with, actually built a T and a U and B over in the East Area. We only activated T-Plant, so we had these other places to use as mockup things. The Mockup Area did not get built until some years later. We had very little equipment problems in the very early days, and later on we were able to replace everything that we had to, taps and motor stirs and these fasteners were made by [inaudible].
Greager : Generaux told you about that. The centrifuges were separating the liquids from the solids. Sanger : Do you recall how long it would take to put a batch of fuel and rods or whatever through the first building? Greager : Well, the secret to this whole thing in those days was that it was a batch operation, you did this, stopped, and you went to the next step. I do not know if we ever tried to figure out how long it took to go from here to here, but I would think in terms of seven to ten days.
Sanger : You say that T was the one that really was used? The T Building, of the three?
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Greager : The T Building is the one that was used. We had operations at B Plant later, but U was never used until after the war and was used for the uranium recovery. We used to like to say that we have the largest uranium mine in the world in those underground storage areas, 7, tons of uranium in there. Greager : It was shipped off to Oak Ridge and put through the diffusion plant down there. We only skimmed the least bitter cream out of there. Sanger : When the waste was put in those tanks, how much plutonium was included, or was it just very negligible?
It was a very minor amount of what we had. The fission products were the important thing that went into the waste tank along with the uranium; they were the heat-generating things.
The contribution of plutonium to the heat generated in the waste tank will be less than a tenth of a percent. I cannot quote you now today what we got in the way of yield. It looked a lot better than that at a time when we closed down the development work at Oak Ridge. I made a bet for a couple of bottles of Scotch that we would hit ninety percent yield on the first run we made.
Later on, I do not know whether we got much above ninety-five or not. We really did not worry about it very much because we were getting such good yields, up in the middle nineties. It was not important from the standpoint of losing material. Sanger : You never sent it through again, to get what you did not get the first time? Greager : Yeah we did, on the first runs. We had to rework the waste from the original separations two or three times in order to get that ninety-percent plus.
Greager : That only happened in the very first few weeks of operation. After that, things settled down and then we went straight through. If you had a bad one, I am sure you would go back and rework it. Sanger : You could reroute the waste from the other way back to the beginning? Greager : Yeah, it was a good job of designing it, so you had a lot of flexibility in moving stuff around.
Sanger : What would you say briefly was your actual responsibility when you were out there representing the Army? You were called what? Greager : Well it is the same responsibility that DOE likes to claim in connection with the contractors here. Really, as far as I was concerned, I had a counterpart out in the Area.
But I did not really feel that he and I had anything we had to do. DuPont was running the show, and that is the way Groves wanted it. Greager : Yeah, I had an office.
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That is the one that started up, was the one in West Area.