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Oak Ridge National Laboratory

The Project
Protect vital historical and medical research records for future generations.

The Solution
FIRELOCK® Modular Data Vault with Class 125 Fire Rating and magnetic shielding.

The Department of Energy, which manages all of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has rigid requirements which mandate the preservation and protection of all DOE vital records. Oak Ridge is significant because of its long history in the field of nuclear energy.

In the early days of World War II, America had reason to fear that Germany’s discovery of nuclear fission in 1939 might lead to their development of a “super bomb.” In response to this threat, the U.S. launched the top-secret, top-priority Manhattan Project. Top scientists such as Enrico Fermi, Alvin Weinberg, Eugene Wigner and Charles Moak were involved in this plan to produce enriched uranium and the pilot-scale production of plutonium. The Graphite Reactor designed for this purpose was soon creating over 600 pounds of irradiated uranium a day, and from this, Oak Ridge’s chemists were able to produce the world’s first few grams of plutonium.

The Graphite Reactor continued its pioneering ways when it produced the first electricity from nuclear energy. It was also the first reactor used to study the nature of matter and health hazards of radioactivity. It can be said that this research center was the source of mammalian radiation biology. And for years after the war, it was the foremost source of radio-isotopes for medicine, industry and agriculture. Much of the work done to unravel the genetic code could not have been done without these isotopes. These same isotopes are used in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.

In the final analysis, it will be this contribution which may have the largest impact on our present day society.

Much of the research done with these early isotopes as well as all medical records from the Laboratory complex reside in the medical archive vault provided by FIRELOCK®.

Alston Hodge of Martin Marietta was responsible for putting together the proposal to the Department of Energy and receiving the necessary approvals to move forward with the overall project. This facility was specially designed by the Martin Marietta in-house design team to meet the needs of this unique archive and data base.

The media rated vault provided by FIRELOCK® Modular Vault is capable of providing the Class 125 Fire Rating necessary for sensitive computer media and x-rays. The vault chamber provides precise environmental control to allow media to be stored at 68°F and 30% relative humidity, which is necessary to preserve the records in this chamber in perpetuity. The chamber also provides magnetic shielding due to the close proximity of the medical center and the other types of research taking place on the Laboratory campus.

FIRELOCK® would like to thank Alston Hodge for including us in this unique and historic project.