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ETRAP 2005
23-25 November 2005 in Brussels








































































Five Years Experience With External Laundry Service For Alpha-Contaminated Protective Clothing In The Decommissioning Project Siemens PG, Formerly Siemens Fuel Rod Facility-Hanau, Germany

Mr. Eckhard Raabe
Siemens PG
Hanau Germany

Mr. Roelof Hadders
Euro Nuclear Services B.V.
Coevorden The Netherlands

Mr. Manfred Wilke
ENS Nuklear Services GmbH
Ellgau Germany


This paper has been condensed from its original version to meet publication requirements. The full document is available upon request from the authors.


Off-site decontamination of protective clothing is new in Europe. In the past, facilities established their own on-site laundries and decontaminated their own protective clothing. But, operating a laundry within an operating nuclear facility brings with it a number of complicated problems, including staffing, variable workloads, wastewater, and as a support priority it is often not handled as well as it could be.
For the past five years, the former Siemens fuel rod fabrication facility in Hanau, Germany, has been using the services of an off-site laundry service provider (LSP) for cleaning radioactively contaminated protective clothing. This paper discusses the decision making process


The LSP is located in Coevorden, The Netherlands. Centrally located, it is able to service many European nuclear facilities while minimizing transport distances. Coevorden offers a friendly regulatory environment and reliable, educated employees.
The LSP has a broad scope nuclear materials license, meaning it can accept almost any radionuclide providing the quantities do not exceed license limits. The framework for transport of radioactive materials is defined in European ADR regulations, German GGVS (Gefahrengutverordnung Strasse), and laws governing health physics in each European country where the LSP provides services. Permits are obtained in each country through which a shipment passes as required.
Waste is generated as sludge from the wastewater processing system and drying lint. Dutch regulators consider laundering as a value added process taking place in the Netherlands. Therefore waste is generated in the Netherlands in accordance with the Dutch Nuclear Power Act and transported off site to the COVRA – the Netherlands’ radioactive waste disposal site.
Key factors for going off-site were cost and the fact that the company shut down its fuel fabrication facility which involved decommissioning the on-site laundry.


Customers are provided clean, folded, and sorted clothing in the LSP’s special transport container (see Fig. 1). The containers are on wheels and can be delivered directly to the point of use, eliminating extra handling.

Fig. 1: Transport container with filled bag

Bags containing dirty laundry are sealed and then placed into the open top of the lined LSP’s containers. When a container is full, the liner is sealed and the container is checked for radioactivity in preparation for return to the LSP.
Transport is accomplished on vehicles that are capable of carrying 20 containers. Shipments are made in compliance with IAEA rules and any local requirements. During five years of shipping offsite, no problems were encountered with laundry transports.
Upon arrival at the LSP radioactivity levels are checked to ensure no container exceeds license limits. The LSP uses a

special plastic scintillator detector to monitor incoming containers (see Fig.2). The monitor alarms if radiation levels are exceeded.

Fig. 2 Container entrance monitor

A crane lifts the sling bag out of the container to a downdraft sorting table. The table rotates and workers stationed around the perimeter sort items into like types. Integrated ventilation systems avoid any need for worker respiratory protection.
The laundry is placed into 250 kg capacity washing machines. These industrial washers generate considerably more agitation and “fall” than smaller washers in use at nuclear facilities. Washing large loads improves economy and is one reason why the LSP is able to do laundry at less cost. After washing, laundry is dried in industrial dryers sized to match washing capacity.
Clean clothing is placed on an Automatic Laundry Monitor (“ALM”). The LSP has designed world-class belt-driven gas flow proportional ALMs capable of detecting very low levels of alpha and beta-gamma contamination (see Fig. 3). Each ALM has 88 individual detectors arranged to fully monitor every square centimetre of an item. This gives Siemens confidence that 100% of the clothing is being directly measured for radioactivity in a repeatable and reliable manner that outperforms human inspection method.
Finally, clean laundry is sorted and packed by item, size and color and packed into the transport containers for return to the customer.

Fig. 3: Alpha/beta gas flow monitor ALM


The quantities processed in one calendar year are as follows:

  • 24 Total Shipments

  • 2,1 E8 Bq Total Activity

  • 6 Bq/g Specific Activity

  • 24,463 kg Laundered Clothing

  • 27,211 Coveralls

  • 15,277 Gloves

  • 57,181 Overshoes

  • 318 Containers Of Soiled Laundry

Fig.4: Transport container with clean coveralls

The LSP is periodically audited by Siemens and others. Audits confirm that the off-site laundry is operating according to its design specification, procedures, and governmental requirements.


In addition to logistical considerations Siemens wanted to provide laundry service at the lowest possible cost. Siemens evaluated four different LSP offerings.
The LSP offers lease clothing and disposable clothing. A key factor was that Siemens already owned sufficient protective clothing inventory. Figure 5 depicts the savings attributed to having the LSP launder the existing clothing inventory.

Fig. 5: Cost comparison


The Siemens project demonstrates that off-site laundry service offers a number of advantages to managing an on-site laundry. The LSP is better equipped to do the job with high-volume throughput using efficient, high-performance equipment. Outsourcing eliminates the need to hire permanent and peak-need temporary laundry workers. Off-site service eliminates management of laundry wastewater and other health physics tasks – daily radiation checks, air sampling, etc., that are part of operating a laundry.
The LSP worked together with Siemens to ensure service was satisfactory and the LSP was willing to help whenever problems arose. There have been no problems with transporting radioactive material during the course of the project. In summary, the process has saved Siemens money while providing laundry service better than Siemens could have done on its own.

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