Rocky Flats Plant, Transportation Modification Center
HAER No. CO-83-Z (Rocky Flats Plant, Building 440)
Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site, Highway 93, Golden, Jefferson
County, Colorado. Building 440 is located inside the 400 Area security fence, north of
Cactus Avenue, approximately 400 feet east of Third Street.
Building 440 is a primary contributor to the Rocky Flats Plant
historic district, associated with the U.S. strategy of nuclear military
deterrence during the Cold War, a strategy considered of major importance in preventing
Soviet nuclear attack. In the early 1970s, Building 440 was used to modify and repair
vehicles to meet specific U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) requirements for transport of
special nuclear materials and radioactive wastes. A plant employee is credited with
developing the concept of modifying railroad cars, semitrailers, and escort
vehicles to carry radioactive waste materials for storage and disposal and to transport
weapons components to the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas. Vehicle modification work in Building 440
continued until 1994.
Building 440 is comprised of several multi-height structures attached
to each other, forming a building of variable height. Room 105, 106, 112, 113, 114, and
123 are the primary rooms contained in Building 440, and are discussed in more detail
below. The northwest portion of Building 440 consists of four high-bay, corrugated-metal,
prefabricated structures linked together. Each of these four prefabricated structures is
constructed of rigid, tapered north-south steel bents, with no intermediate columns. The
bents are cross-braced. Two one-story structures with shallow-pitched gable roofs form the
eastern portion of Building 440. Two structures with medium-pitched gable roofs, and one
flat-roofed, single-story area form the southwest portion of Building 440. The roof is
corrugated metal decking, supported by cold-formed steel purlins, insulated with
fiberglass and vapor-barrier facings.
The east and west portions of the building each have two metal overhead doors. The
foundation contains spread footings connected by concrete grade beams. The exterior walls
and some of the interior walls between the structures are metal sandwich-type panels with
fiberglass insulation. Most of the interior walls are concrete masonry. The floors are
on-grade concrete slabs.
The outline of the building measures 276 feet (east-west) by 142 feet (north-south), covering
approximately 41,320 square feet. Two railroad spurs enter the building at the eastern
Room 106 contains a grid of wide flange steel beams 10 feet above the floor. These beams,
originally used to support weapons components awaiting shipment to the Pantex Plant in
Amarillo, Texas, currently support electrical bus ducts and fluorescent light fixtures.
A 5-ton bridge crane is located in Room 112. Unlike other bridge cranes at the Rocky
Flats Plant, the rails for the crane in Room 112 are supported on steel columns,
independent of the building. The crane was added after the building was constructed to aid
in the modification of rail cars.
Room 114 is a railcar bay. The railroad tracks and the majority of the floor slab are
approximately 5 feet lower than the main building floor. The tracks enter the room from the
east; an entry dock is located at the north end. Gantry cranes present in Rooms 105 and
114 were used to move equipment and materials used in the modification of safe secure
Industrial-sized paint booths are located in Rooms 113 and 123. These paint booths are
large enough to hold a semitrailer, and are equipped with special air vents to
carry air in and out of the booths.
Building 440 was constructed in the late 1960s for production control and
shipping of products for final assembly and wastes for disposal. Special nuclear materials
and depleted uranium were staged and shipped out of this building by truck and railcar.
For a brief period, Building 440 was used as a general warehouse and storage area for
nonnuclear construction and fabrication materials.
In the early 1970s, Building 440 was used to modify and repair vehicles to meet
specific DOE requirements for transport of special nuclear
materials and radioactive wastes. Building 440 was expanded three times to include a
railcar bay, a high bay, paint booths, storage areas, and locker rooms in support of
transport modification efforts. A plant employee, Walter Coven, is credited with
developing the concept of modifying railroad cars, semi-trailers, and escort
vehicles to carry radioactive waste materials for storage and disposal, and to transport
weapons components to the Pantex Plant. Armor, communication equipment, and comfort
features were added to transport vehicles to aid personnel assigned to ensure the safe and
secure movement of the cargo. Vehicle modification work in Building 440 continued until
1994, when the mission was transferred to another DOE facility in Kansas City. Most of
the original equipment associated with this activity was shipped to other DOE
Railcars for material shipping were among the first types of transports modified in the
building, followed by rail escort cars for personnel. The use of railcars was replaced by
the use of specially modified tractor trailers called safe secure transports. The tractor
trailers could take advantage of the highway system which offered increased flexibility in
shipment schedules and routing, and also offered the possibility of evasive action, if
Production processes in Building 440 included various welding,
painting, machining, pipe fitting, metal working, and electrical work used to modify
transports. Modification efforts focused on developing entry deterrents. Paint booths were
used to coat fabricated, nonnuclear components and the transports. The gantry and 5-ton
cranes were used to move materials associated with the transport modification effort.
Coven, Walter, employed at the plant from 1955 to 1988 by the site
contractor. Personal communication, January 1998.
Healy, Terry, employed at the plant since 1976 by the site contractor. Personal
communication, January 1998.
Roberts, Jim, employed at the plant from 1967 to 1997 by the site contractor. Personal
communication, January 1998.
Swenson, Peter, employed at the plant since 1982 by the site contractor. Personal
communication, December 1997.
United States Department of Energy. Historical Release Report (HRR) (1994), by
EG&G. Rocky Flats Plant Repository. Golden, Colorado, 1994.
United States Department of Energy. Final Cultural Resources Survey Report (1995), by Science Applications International Corporation. Rocky Flats Repository. Golden,
Weaver, Jack, employed at the plant since 1961 by the site contractor. Personal
communication, January 1998.
D. Jayne Aaron, Environmental Designer, engineering-environmental
Management, Inc. (e²M), 1997. Judith Berryman, Ph.D., Archaeologist, e²M, 1997.
Index to Photographs
Located north of Cactus Avenue, approximately 400 feet east of Third Street, Golden Vicinity, Jefferson County, Colorado.
Photographs CO-83-Z-1 through CO-83-Z-2 were taken by various site photography
contractors, dates are indicated in parentheses.
CO-83-Z-1 – View of Building 440 looking west, northwest. Building 440, the Transport Modification Center, consist of four, high-bay, corrugated metal structures. Building 440 was used for packaging and staging special nuclear materials and depleted uranium for shipment, and to modify vehicles to meet specific DOE requirements. (2/8/84)
CO-83-Z-2 – View of the inside of the modification bay. Railroad cars, semitrailers, and escort vehicles were modified to carry radioactive waste materials for storage and disposal and to transport weapons components. (5/12/87)