Eighteen months and 577 feet later, the latest expansion to the U1a Complex hit a major milestone earlier in March as staff punched through the last remaining dirt wall between the two halves of the new tunnel. Check out the video on YouTube, and subscribe to our channel, youtube.com/NNSANevada, while you’re there!
“Breakthrough is an iconic word [at U1a], on this enhancement project and throughout the Site,” Senior Director J.C. Wallace observed. “Breakthroughs in technologies and capabilities developed here will bring [projects from] National Labs and others to NNSS.”
When work on the tunnel began back in November 2019, the COVID pandemic was just around the corner. Work initially slowed at the onset of the virus as NNSS management worked with Occupational Medicine to develop safety guidelines that would ensure the safety of all Site employees, downhole and elsewhere.
What makes this achievement even more noteworthy is the unusual method in which it was accomplished. Drilling began at what would eventually become the two ends of the tunnel simultaneously, with crews headed toward each other and eventually meeting in the middle. “Usually you start at one end and go clean through to the other,” said Manager Steve Cherry. “I’d like to thank the construction division for all their hard work. They’ve overcome obstacles every day to do a great job here at the Site, working together as a team to make this happen.”
“I’d like to thank all of the U1a, MSTS, and National Labs teams involved,” added Wallace. “With a special thanks to all the craftsmen and facilities personnel who contributed to the project. There’s a lot more to do, but make no mistake, this is a breakthrough in every sense of the word.”