Rocky Flats Plant, Stainless Steel and Nonnuclear Components Manufacturing
CO-83-T (Rocky Flats Plant, Building 460)
Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site, Highway 93, Golden, Jefferson
County, Colorado. Building 460 is located in the southeast corner of the intersection of
Cottonwood Avenue and Third Street.
Building 460 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. Building 460 was a nonnuclear manufacturing facility for the
manufacture of stainless steel components. The building was designed to consolidate all
nonnuclear manufacturing at the plant into one facility. The facility was described as
the most modern nonnuclear manufacturing building in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) complex.
The total area of Building 460 is approximately 230,000 square feet,
divided between the first floor and two second floor mezzanines. The first floor (150,000
square feet) was used primarily for manufacturing. The south mezzanine, with dimensions of
240 feet (north-south) by 260 feet (east-west), houses offices and a cafeteria. The north
mezzanine, with dimensions of 80 feet (north-south) by 260 feet (east-west) contains an electrical
substation; control centers; vacuum pumps; a water distillation system; storage areas; and
heating, ventilation, and air conditioning units. Overall building dimensions are 483 feet
(north-south) by 362 feet (east-west), with a notch out of the southeast corner. Building 460
houses Rooms 122, 132, 134, 135, 141, 142, and 156–158, which are discussed in more detail
Building 460 is a pre-engineered metal building constructed of single-gabled,
multi-span, rigid-framed steel with concrete floors. The primary building structure
consists of tapered rigid steel bents running east to west, spaced at 40-foot-intervals. A
reinforced concrete grade beam around the perimeter connects the spread footings and forms
the foundation for the exterior walls. Cross-bracing on the east and west exterior walls
is used for lateral stability. Additional cross-bracing is found on the mezzanine columns.
The mezzanines are concrete on corrugated metal decking, supported by bar joists.
Structural steel columns are used to provide intermediate support for the roof frame and
mezzanine floors. The roof is supported on bar joists, with the roof ridge peaking
approximately 35 feet above ground level. The roof system includes a corrugated metal liner,
rigid insulation, and ribbed metal roof panels.
The lower exterior walls of the building are insulated pre-cast concrete panels with an
architectural finish on the exterior surfaces. The upper walls are corrugated metal inner
panels and ribbed exterior panels, separated by 6-inch metal studs and fiberglass
insulation. The interior walls are concrete masonry supported on independent footings,
which are as much as 9 feet below the finished floor elevation. Permanent mezzanine office
partition walls are gypsum board over metal studs. Interior walls and ceilings for the
high-pressure test cells and radiography vaults are reinforced concrete. The high-pressure
test cell walls are steel-lined.
The exterior doors are metal. The windows are fixed, single panes in metal sashing.
Windows are present only on the mezzanine levels, except on the east end of the south wall
where there are windows on the ground level.
Two concrete loading docks are located along the eastern side of the building, and a
small loading dock is located at the west end of the north side of the building.
Utilities include steam, raw and potable water, and electricity. Building 462 is a
cooling tower, which provides cooling process water for both supply and return. Liquid
wastes are collected in sump tanks, then filtered and sampled in Room 140 prior to
transfer to Building 374 for waste processing.
Building 460 was constructed in 1984 to handle nonnuclear War Reserve and
special order parts and assemblies. The building was designed to consolidate all
nonnuclear manufacturing at the plant into one facility. The stainless steel operations
conducted in Building 881 and some nonnuclear metal working operations from Building 444
were transferred to Building 460 after its completion. In addition to stainless steel,
parts were also manufactured from aluminum, vanadium, copper, gold, silver, magnesium,
titanium, Teflon, and plastics. Manufactured components were
used in the tritium reservoir-to-pit delivery system in nuclear weapons. No major
modifications have been made to the building structure since it was commissioned, although
several pieces of equipment have been disassembled for shipment to a DOE facility located in Kansas City. The final production run was completed in
Operations: Building 460 housed equipment, systems, and personnel for fabrication,
assembly, and testing of stainless steel components such as reservoirs, tubes, and
nonfissle trigger components. Manufacturing, testing, and inspection processes occupied
most of the ground floor. The facility was described as the most modern nonnuclear
manufacturing building in the DOE Complex.
Operation processes included fabrication, assembly, and inspection. Fabrication of
stainless steel and other nonnuclear metal parts included mechanical machining,
electrochemical machining and grinding, electric discharge machining, and crush grinding.
Mechanical machining took place in Room 134 and consisted of production machining and
hardware machining. The electrochemical machining operations were located in Room 141.
Various grinding processes took place in Room 142.
Assembly took place in Rooms 122, 132, 134, and 135 and included a combination of
machining, joining, grit blasting, and cleaning. Cleaning processes, including acid,
aqueous, and final, were conducted in Rooms 156, 157, and 158. Acid cleaning consisted of
a detergent wash, followed by a series of acid and water washes and rinses. Aqueous
cleaning consisted of a detergent wash, followed by a deionized water rinse. The final
cleaning process was the last cleaning the part or assembly underwent, and consisted of a
detergent wash, followed by a series of deionized water or isopropyl alcohol rinses.
Assembly testing, nondestructive testing, and product inspection were conducted during
inspection of the machined parts. Assembly testing subjected parts and subassemblies from
various fabrication processes to pressure and leak tests. Nondestructive testing included
ultrasonic testing, holographic pressure testing, radiographic testing, and dye-penetrant
testing. Ultrasonic testing used water and ultrasonic pulses to detect voids and other
defects in welded joints of parts and subassemblies. Holographic testing used a
holographic plate to record expansion or distortion of a tested part or subassembly placed
under pressure in a test cell. Radiographic testing used x-rays to detect internal flaws
(i.e., cracks, lack of fusion, and inclusions) in parts and subassemblies. Dye-penetrant
testing used dye-penetrant oil to detect surface cracks and other defects in parts and
subassemblies. Product inspection, used to provide quality assurance for parts fabricated
in the building, or purchased off site, consisted of a series of cleaning and
non-dimensional inspection processes.
Other activities conducted in Building 460 included research and development on
prototype fixtures, and parts and materials development. Support operations housed in the
building included machining and gauging, production control, product definition, deionized
water production, test cell compression, laboratories, maintenance, and utilities.
Colorado Department of Health. Project Tasks 3 & 4 Final Draft
Report. Reconstruction of Historical Rocky Flats Operations and Identification of Release
Points (1992), by ChemRisk. Rocky Flats Repository. Golden, Colorado.
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,
D. Jayne Aaron, Environmental Designer, engineering-environmental
Management Inc. (e2M), 1997. Judith Berryman, Ph.D., Archaeologist, e2M,
Index to Photographs
Southeast corner of the intersection of Cottonwood Avenue and Third Street, Golden Vicinity, Jefferson County, Colorado
Photographs CO-83-T-1 through CO-83-T-5 were taken by various site photography
contractors, dates are indicated in parentheses.
CO-83-T-1 – Aerial view of Building 460, looking northeast. The building was constructed to consolidate all nonnuclear manufacturing at the Rocky Flats Plant into one facility. (6/13/85)
CO-83-T-2 – View of the production floor of Building 460. Building 460 was constructed for the manufacture of stainless steel components such as reservoirs, tubes, and nonfissile trigger components. Manufacturing, testing, and inspection processes occupied most of the ground floor. (2/20/96)
CO-83-T-3 – View from the production floor of Building 460, looking west. Building 460 housed equipment, systems, and personnel for fabrication, assembly, and testing of stainless steel components such as reservoirs, tubes, and nonfissile trigger components. The lower left corner of the photograph shows a T-based lathe with an optical comparator for machining of stainless steel. The drum in the lower right corner contains stainless steel turning collected from the lathe. (9/11/85)
CO-83-T-4 – View of precision equipment used in stainless component manufacturing. The facility was described as the most modern nonnuclear manufacturing building in the DOE Complex, with many precision instruments. (9/21/83)
CO-83-T-5 – View of micro-machining, high-precision equipment used to custom make small parts. Lumps of clay, shown in the photograph, were used to stabilize parts being machined. (11/1/87)