Since 2001, Kleinfelder has participated in the design of the Chemical and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) program, which includes constructing two major buildings – a Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building (RLUOB) and a CMRR Nuclear Facility – to be constructed at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL). This new facility will be the centerpiece of LANL’s ongoing mission to support the nation’s nuclear stockpile stewardship program for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) of the U.S. Department of Energy.
Several design features of the nuclear facility created geotechnical challenges. For security reasons, most of the building would be constructed into the hillside, requiring a fully supported excavation up to 75 feet. The excavation depth placed the foundation over a 50-foot thick soft volcanic layer, presenting poor foundation characteristics. After demonstrating site suitability, the project was conducted under the highest nuclear quality standards (NQA-1) and reviewed by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB).
To address concerns with site conditions, Kleinfelder designed a rigid excavation support. We also designed an extensive geomechanical instrumentation system to monitor any ground deformation and potential facility impacts. Kleinfelder identified that an excavate-and-replace ground treatment alternative would be needed to mitigate the geotechnical and seismic shaking concerns associated with the soft volcanic layer. As a result, the client agreed to raise the facility to eliminate the need for the expensive ground treatment alternative.
Kleinfelder worked with LANL’s integrated design team to develop design recommendations to mitigate the site-specific characteristics that could impact the project’s success. These efforts facilitated the forward movement of the NNSA’s initiative to replace its outdated nuclear laboratory facility and demonstrated the project and site’s viability to the DNFSB.