Also Known As: Harshaw Filtrol Partners, Uranium Refinery
Time Period: AWE 1942-1955; Residual Radiation 1956-March 1, 2011
Facility Type: Atomic Weapons Employer
Facility Description: Harshaw Chemical of Cleveland, Ohio refined black oxide and sodium diuranate to orange oxide and then to brown oxide for the Manhattan Project during World War II. The final result was a “green salt”, which the Manhattan Project used to produce uranium hexafluoride for enrichment into weapons grade fuel for nuclear weapons at the gaseous diffusion plants. Harshaw also produced uranium hexafloride during the war and this production activity was expanded in 1947. Harshaw production was reduced in 1951 and by May of 1953 the green salt plant was dismantled and the hexafluoride plant was placed on standby. The contract for removal of AEC equipment continued until September 30, 1955. This designation is limited to the Harshaw facility located at 1000 Harvard Avenue, Cleveland and generally referred to as the Harvard-Denison plant.
During the period of residual contamination, as designated by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and as noted in the dates above, employees of subsequent owners and operators of this facility are also covered under the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act.
Harshaw Chemical Company was acquired by Kewaunee Oil Company in 1964. Kewaunee Oil was then acquired by the Gulf Oil Company in 1976. Kaiser Chemical Company acquired Harshaw interests in 1982.
Harshaw Chemical Co. is listed as an Atomic Weapons Employer (AWE) under the EEOICPA.
Special Exposure Cohort (SEC) Classes:
Atomic Weapons employees who were monitored or should have been monitored while working at the Harshaw Harvard-Denison Plant located at 1000 Harvard Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio, from August 14, 1942, through November 30, 1949, and who were employed for a number of work days aggregating at least 250 work days or in combination with work days within the parameters established for one or more other classes of employees in the Special Exposure Cohort.
Job Titles and/or Job Duties:
All workers at Harshaw Chemical Company plant and the laboratories of the separate facility located at 1945 East 97th Street
As of 08/23/2015, the total compensation paid under Part B of the EEOICPA, including medical compensation, for workers suffering from the effects of having worked at Harshaw Chemical Company is $6,744,646.
Harshaw Chemical Company Workers:
If you or your parent worked at this or any other AWE facility and became ill, you may be entitled to compensation of up to $150K plus medical benefits from the US Department of Labor. Call EEOICPA Counsel Hugh Stephens at 1-855-EEOICPA (336-4272) or fill out the form to the right, whether or not you have already filed a claim and even if your claim has been accepted or denied.
We can help with all OWCP (Federal Workers Compensation) claims, impairments, wage loss and health care. 2495 Main Street, Suite 442 Buffalo, NY.
NIOSH site profile:
Layouts of the uranium tetrafluoride (UF4) and uranium hexafluoride (UF6) areas can be found in AEC (1948, 1951a) and that of the ore concentrate to uranium dioxide (UO2) area in AEC (1951b). Little information about the early history of site use is available. The principal source of information is an account by the president of Harshaw of the early work under contracts with the MED or other entities that were working for the MED (Harshaw 1945). Harshaw was first approached in 1941 about Office of Scientific Research and Development/MED-associated work when it was asked to produce UF6 using fluorine gas (F2) based on the company’s experience manufacturing anhydrous hydrofluoric acid and laboratory experience in manufacturing F2 (Harshaw 1945). Harshaw had limited experience working with uranium, having manufactured uranium-containing ceramic glazes and similar products.
The entire Harshaw Chemical Company operational area for AEC work was referred to as Plant C or Area C (Velten 1949). Plant C (refinery building also referred to as Building G-1) included all of the individual production operations using radiological materials (UO2-to-UF4, UF4-to-UF6 plus distillation, and ore-to-UO2 or -UO3). The locations where these three individual production operations were performed were also referred to as “plants.” The common usage of the time might have referred to the ore-to-UO2 operations as the Brown, New Brown,” or 493 Plant; the UF4-to-UF6 operations as the Hex or 492 Plant; and the UO2-to-UF4 operations as the Green or 491 Plant. In 1945, UF6 operations were expanded in an annex to Building G-1, called the Hex Annex.
Uranium production operations for the MED war effort began in August 1942 when Harshaw produced laboratory quantities of UCl4. This work would have been done using ore material. Generally speaking, this material would have been in the form of triuranium octaoxide (U3O8), sometimes referred to as black oxide or yellow cake. Harshaw also produced UCl4 for the National Bureau of Standards. After 1943, other research contracts followed, including a contract to research methods of improving uranium capture and recovery (Harshaw 1945).
From March 1942 until 1951, Harshaw produced UF6 (DOE 1997; Stefanec 1951). In 1944, under contract to the MED, Harshaw built and operated a full-scale UF6 pilot plant (Harshaw 1945). In May 1949, the AEC contracted with Harshaw to convert uranium concentrate to uranium trioxide (UO3 ) (also called orange oxide) and then to UO2 (NYOO Medical Division 1949; Mayer and Proschan 1949). In 1951, AEC discontinued conversion of UO3 to UO2 and production of UO2 ceased. At that point, Harshaw began to produce UO3 only from milled ore (DOE 1997). Production of UO3 continued until about September 1955, when the plant was shut down. D&D activities were conducted under AEC supervision starting in November 1951. Decontamination of the UF4and UF6 areas began after early December 1951 (Clarke 1963). Dismantling of equipment in the UF6 area and probably the UF4 area began in January 1952 (HCC 1950–1953). In about February 1952, an area of the Building G-1 annex, which had held an extension of the UF6 production area and also housed some offices and shops, was torn out to make a warehouse, forcing the relocation of various offices and shops to other existing areas (Klevin 1952a). AEC equipment was removed by September 30, 1955 (NIOSH 2002). AEC D&D surveys of the various production areas were performed beginning in November 1951 (Klevin 1953a). The buildings were decontaminated by Harshaw in the late 1950s and released from AEC control in 1960 (FUSRAP 2001). Although Building G-1 and its annex were subjected to D&D from 1952 to 1959 for the older areas and 1956 to 1959 for the newer areas (the Brown Area), it appears that other buildings that had some residual contamination – either from work there in the MED years, such as the foundry and Building K-1, or from track-in, such as the Boiler House – were not subject to D&D in these periods. After release of the site by the AEC in 1960, Harshaw used all the buildings until the site was purchased by the Engelhard Corporation in 1988. Engelhard then did D&D between 1990 and 1997 on all buildings except (apparently) Plant C, but does not seem to have used Plant C. Thus, the postoperations years would be from 1960 to 1989 for all buildings and the Engelhard D&D years would be 1990 to 1992 for those buildings that were demolished (Buildings K-1, M-1, and P-1); 1990 to 1992 for the Boiler House (used to store parts of the demolished buildings); and 1990 to 1997 for the remaining buildings other than Plant C. Table 2-1 lists the assumed periods of D&D and postoperations use. Note that it is assumed that those buildings that were not in use were kept locked and access to them was controlled, as is suggested or stated explicitly by all relevant references.
The D&D of the Green Area, the Old Hex Area, and the distillation and recovery areas that took place from 1952 to 1959 was not continuous . However, it appears that no operations were performed there because the AEC did not release the site until 1960, and it should thus be assumed that this period was entirely a D&D period for these areas. The D&D of the New Hex or Annex Area that took place in 1952 left some residual contamination because the space was to be converted to other uses associated with the ore concentrate-to-UO3 process. This work was true D&D work and the workers engaged in it likely had a notation in film badge records such as “decontamination,” but the space was not completely clean afterward and was used for process-associated work such as warehousing and storage of contaminated items. Thus, while the post-D&D exposure levels in this area probably did not approach the exposure levels of the process area, there was still the potential for non-negligible exposure.
The period of free release and non-AEC use until FUSRAP took over is considered to be from 1960 until June 1999. FUSRAP work at the site is not included in the scope of this site profile.
Most of the Harshaw uranium processing operations were carried out 24 hr/d, 7 d/wk (Lippmann 1958). AEC dust study reports [e.g., Klevin (1950a) and Lippmann (1958)] indicate that the workday for all workers was 8 hours. Klevin (1950a) indicated that there were three shifts per day for every type of listed worker except the plant superintendent, general foreman, process engineer, health physicist, and laundry workers. The Harshaw operating manual (HCC 1946) stated that the Timken Roller Bearing Company plan of rotation was used: there were four crews for each major process or activity, with each crew working five 8-hour days for 3 weeks, then working six 8-hour days the fourth week, for an average of 42 hr/wk. This was necessary so the plant could operate 24 hr/d, 7 d/wk. In addition to Harshaw employees, employees from at least two subcontractors were mentioned in site documents, M. K. Ferguson (Klevin ca. 1948) and General Welding (AEC 1950a; HCC 1950–1953).
Uranium Tetrachloride Production
Harshaw shipped its first order of UCl4 to the National Bureau of Standards in March 1942. Harshaw began larger scale laboratory production ofUCl4 in November 1942; by April 1943, Harshaw was producing up to 100 lb ofUCl4 daily (Harshaw 1945). Harshaw set up a new production area in October 1944. This new production area was initially used to process up to 1 ton per day of UCl4, with the production rate continuing to increase monthly thereafter (Harshaw 1945; Ferry 1944a; MED 1945). In January 1945, MED ordered an additional amount of 65,000 lb of UCl4. This was the final order of the material (Simmons 1945). Harshaw stopped production of UCl4 in February 1945 and dismantled the UCl4 production area. Parts were shipped to Oak Ridge, Tennessee (Harshaw 1945).
Uranium Hexafluoride Production
In February 1942, Harshaw Chemical Company first producedUF6 and maintained a production rate of 5 lb/d throughout 1942. This material was sometimes referred to as “hex” and the processing area as the Hex or 492 Plant.” By 1943, Harshaw was producing as much as 50 lb of UF 6 per day in a pilot plant. Harshaw operated the pilot plant until February 1944, producing a total of 9,000 lb of UF6 (Harshaw 1945).
In 1944, Harshaw built a new UF6 production facility containing three units. Harshaw erected electrolytic cells to obtain the fluorine that was used to produce UF6 (Quigley 1951a). By July 1944, Harshaw was producing as much as 3,300 lb of UF6per day, and as much as 4,500 lb/d of UF6 by April 1945 (AEC 1951c; Harshaw 1945). An auxiliary building known as the Hex Annex” or New Hex area was added in 1945 to provide additional UF6 production capacity. The Hex Annex was mentioned in some references as an addition to Building G-1 and in others as a separate structure. Although this level was not reached on a regular monthly basis, by December 1947, Harshaw was producing up to 46,000 lb of UF6 per month. In December 1951, Harshaw Chemical Company stopped producing UF6 (Sargent 1951).
Uranium Tetrafluoride Production
In 1942, at the request of Standard Oil Development Company, Harshaw Chemical Company began to produceUF4from UO2. This material was sometimes referred to as “green salt” and the processing area as the Green or 491 Plant. The first UO2 material processed at Harshaw was supplied by Westinghouse Electric and Manufacturing Company (HCC ca. 1945).
In July 1942, the MED asked Harshaw to produce 1,200 lb of UF4per day from UO2 produced and supplied by DuPont and Mallinckrodt Chemical Works (Harshaw 1945). In September 1942, Harshaw implemented large-scale production using a new facility with a production capacity of 50,000 lb (25 tons) ofUF4 per month (HCC ca. 1945; AEC 1951c). By December 1943, continued improvements in the conversion process increased the production level to 60 tons per month (Harshaw 1945; AEC 1951c).
In December 1944, Harshaw moved production of UF4 to Building G-1, where the production rate was about 3,000 lb/d (HCC ca. 1945). In February 1946, anticipating a later full production of 28,000 lb (14 tons) per week, the MED authorized an increase to 15,000 lb/wk.
Although discrepancies in production quantities exist and are likely due to the reporting of theoretical capacity versus actual production, the final full production level for UF4 (in February 1948) appears to have been 81 tons/mo (AEC 1951c). In October 1951, Harshaw stopped producing UF4 (DOE 1997).
Uranium Trioxide and Uranium Dioxide Production
In 1947, Harshaw Chemical Company constructed an ore-to-UO3-to- UO2batch production facility for AEC use (Velten 1949). This facility was constructed so Harshaw could produceUO2on the site, alleviating the need to bring inUO2 from other suppliers. “Ore” was typically received as milled ore.By July 1949, the ore-to-UO3-to-UO2 batch production facility was operating (AEC 1951c). In 1951, through process modification that included a switch to the use of tributyl phosphate-kerosene rather than ether,UO2production increased (AEC 1951c). However, the UO3-to-UO2 portion of the operation stopped entirely in 1951, although the AEC implies this occurred as of October 1952 (DOE 1997; Stefanec 1951; Termini 1952).
The UO3 contractual amount was 200,000 lb/mo from October to December 1952 (Neumann 1952). Harshaw continued to produce UO 3 from ore until August 1953, when UO3 production was placed on standby, and the AEC directed Harshaw to end all processing except for a final conversion of all leftover feed materials toUO3 (Neumann 1953).
Uranyl Nitrate Hexahydrate Production
Throughout the 1950-through-1951 timeframe, uranyl nitrate hexahydrate (UNH) [chemical formula, UO2(NO3)2∙6 H2O], which is an intermediate liquid produced in the initial processing of ore and uranium extraction, was reportedly produced as “research material.” Documentation available to NIOSH does not indicate if the UNH was produced for use at Harshaw or elsewhere. Beginning in 1952, Hanford sent UNH to Harshaw, sometimes via the Brush Beryllium Company, to be converted into UO3 (Klevin 1952b; Termini 1952; DOE 2000). Hanford produced UNH using a tributyl phosphate chemical process and transported it in tank cars to Harshaw.
Operations Involving Other Radiological Materials
Between 1943 and 1944, Harshaw Chemical Company manufactured a number of special radiological materials, including uranium oxyfluoride (OU2F2), sodium uranate (Na2UO7) at 84%, and uranium nitrate [U(NO 3)2] at 56% (presumably the percentages were of U3O8 equivalent) (Harshaw 1945). However, NIOSH has not located documentation describing how Harshaw processed these materials. 234Between February 1947 and August 1950, Harshaw prepared short-lived Th (known as UX1) from a residue of the UF4-to-UF6 conversion process (Stefanec 1951). Thorium-234 was produced in a laboratory in bench quantities (Stefanec 1951).
On at least two occasions, Harshaw Chemical Company processed some low-enriched uranium, in the form of UF6, from Hanford (Kelley 1946). In 1945 and 1946, Harshaw was asked to mix natural UF6 with UF6that had been slightly enriched. The resulting slightly enriched UF6, now referred to as 235 low-enriched UF6, appears to have been enriched to less than 1% U by weight, and was shipped to K-25 in Oak Ridge, Tennessee (Kelley 1946). The specific activity of 1% enriched uranium is 0.783 pCi/μg.
In 1952 and 1953, various shipments ofUO3 were sent from Hanford to Harshaw for purification (Klevin 1952b; BJC and Haselwood Enterprises 2000), which began on 1 October 1952 (Klevin 1952b). This was the so-called Redox material, which was made from recycled uranium (RU) recovered from irradiated uranium fuel at Hanford. At first, Hanford had trouble producing from this RU material enough UO3 of adequate purity for refining into UF6 (BJC and Haselwood Enterprises 2000; DOE 2000), mainly due to the difficulties in removing transuranic elements (such as plutonium 99and neptunium) and fission products, principally Tc (BJC and Haselwood Enterprises 2000), and hence it was shipped to Harshaw. Klevin (1952b) states that the RU UO3 was shipped in 30-gal drums and that it had been produced based on depleted uranium. The AEC further indicated that the material contained “practically all the elements in the periodic table,” as well as 9 ppb Pu and 0.64% of U235 (Klevin 1952b, BJC and Haselwood Enterprises 2000). The purified product was sent to K-25 by way of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. UNH was also sent, beginning in 1952, from Hanford to Harshaw (at least sometimes via the Brush Beryllium Company) to be converted intoUO3 (Termini 1952; Klevin 1952b; DOE 2000). The UNH sent from Hanford in 1952 and 1953 appears to have been RU like theUO3 shipped from Hanford at about the same time.
To estimate the activity fractions of RU at Harshaw during the period from July 1, 1952, to June 1954, the maximum radionuclide mass fractions were used with an assumption of specific activity for depleted uranium of 0.4 pCi/μg . Table 2-3 lists the results. These fractions will overestimate the activity of RU in the source term for most exposure scenarios .
In early 1950, one worker in the Green Plant and five or six workers in the Hex Plant showed abnormal urine readings (high albumin, variously called albumen-urea, albuminaria, and albuminuria in AEC references) (AEC 1950b; Lippmann 1958). At least one worker was immediately removed from uranium work (AEC 1950b; Lippmann 1958) and was sent to the hospital at Brookhaven National Laboratory for 10 days of study in August and September 1950 (AEC 1950b; Quigley 1950). In October 1950, an AEC New York Operations Office (NYOO) doctor met with Harshaw to discuss these cases (Sargent 1950a, which lists the workers and their hire dates, work locations, and job titles). He emphasized to Harshaw that seven confirmed cases (of 11 reported) for 200 workers was far above normal and that tests had eliminated all causes except uranium damage to the kidneys. He pointed out that the condition had not occurred in those known to be most heavily exposed, so it could be that the affected workers had a special susceptibility to uranium, or that short intense exposures were not being picked up by the existing exposure evaluations. A urologist at Deaconess Hospital was unable to find any reason for the condition of the two workers tested there other than their uranium exposure (Quigley 1950). A follow-up study initiated by the AEC showed that for those followed up, urinary findings were normal within a few months (Lippmann 1958).
SUMMARY OF POTENTIAL EXPOSURES
Harshaw AWE employees could have received internal and external radiation exposures from uranium and nonuranium contaminants, including radium, and thorium in the milled and composite materials. The uranium content of mined uranium ores varied based on the quality of the rock being mined. Natural conditions resulted in varying degrees of disequilibrium between decay series radionuclides within particular ore deposits. A majority of the Ra and thorium isotopes would have
been removed by the milling processes.
While the activity of the 226Ra and thorium isotopes was reduced, much of the potential for external exposure to AWE workers at Harshaw was likely due to uranium progeny. Radium-226, a gamma emitter, likely produced some of the external whole-body dose received by the Harshaw workers. Thorium-234 and 234mPa, both primarily beta emitters, likely produced whole-body skin and extremity dose for workers involved in handling the fluorination ash or decontaminating equipment used to contain or transport the bed ash (ORAUT 2007a). Internal exposures would have included alpha radiation resulting from uranium and uranium progeny emissions . Workers involved in the UX-1 operation were potentially exposed to alpha emissions from thorium. AWE workers were also likely exposed to elevated levels of radon. The concentration of radium (and radon) and other progeny present in the ore concentrates, processed uranium, and processing residue at any given time depended on various factors, including the concentration of uranium in the original ore body; how much uranium progeny remained in the U3O8product received from the mill, the total amount of U3O8 product processed, and how long the U3O8 was stored before use as feed at Harshaw . Little monitoring information is available on the radiological aspects of the D&D work. No records of how the workers were monitored appear to have been made, other than that the monitoring was typical of normal operations and would appear among the regular operations records, perhaps with the notation “decontamination.”
NIOSH SEC Petition Evaluation Reports
Petition 66 (Aug 14, 1942 to Nov 30, 1949)
SEC Petition Evaluation Report, Petition SEC-00066, Rev #: 0
Report Submittal Date 12/04/06
Technical Basis Documents
An Exposure Matrix for the Harshaw Chemical Company, Cleveland, Ohio
Document Number: ORAUT-TKBS-0022 – Revision: 01
Effective Date: 06/02/2009 – Type of Document: TBD
Supersedes: Revision 00
Document Number: ORAUT-TKBS-0022 – Revision: 00
Effective Date: 08/17/2007 – Type of Document: TBD
Also Known As: Harshaw Filtrol Partners, Uranium Refinery