EM employees Tim Emmons and Bill Lutz secure a compressor with tie downs to the truck bed in preparation for the first shipment of the components to a disposal facility.
Workers guide a compressor during a lift from the former uranium enrichment cascade in the X-326 Process Building at EM’s Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon. The first shipment of the components, which were used for 60 years, was completed in January as part of cleanup operations under way at the EM facility.
PIKETON, Ohio – EM and its deactivation and decommissioning (D&D) contractor, Fluor-B&W Portsmouth, recently achieved a significant milestone in cleanup operations at the former uranium enrichment plant in Piketon.
After months of preparation, the first shipment of compressors from the plant was transported to a federally-approved offsite disposal facility. The components were once part of the cascade, a process gas system built in the 1950s to enrich uranium, initially for Cold War-era defense and later for fuel for the nuclear power industry. The cascade, with its successful but outdated technology, ceased uranium enrichment in 2001.
EM Portsmouth Site Director Dr. Vincent Adams praised the team’s hard work and dedication in accomplishing this task.
“Thanks to everyone involved in making this happen, especially those who braved the weather conditions to load and ship the compressors,” Adams said. “Many challenges had to be overcome to make this happen. This is a significant step forward for our program.”
EM awarded Fluor-B&W a contract in 2010 to begin the D&D process to prepare the site for future use. Components now being removed are part of pre-D&D work. During the next two years, several thousand components from the X-326 Process Building will be shipped to the disposal facility.
Employees loaded and shipped four 7,700-pound compressors. By starting with just a small number of the compressors, any lessons learned during preparation and transportation activities can be applied to future shipments.
The compressors in the shipment are the first of more than 2,300 compressors and many more components to be characterized, bagged, staged and transported for disposal from the X-326 building. Last March, the first shipment of converters, the main enrichment mechanism from the X-326 building, was completed.
Shipping the compressors or any components requires strict compliance with rigorous criteria to ensure safety is maintained throughout the transportation cycle.
Fluor-B&W Waste Management Deputy Director John McCoy said this process helps ensure shipments are made in the safest, most efficient and cost-effective manner.
“We have to coordinate more than 200 actions together from groups across the site and that’s what makes the operation work,” McCoy said. “It’s a huge team effort. Shipping these components is a complex process because of the nature of the material.”
McCoy said two team members traveled to the disposal facility to ensure there were no issues during delivery.
“This provided an essential feedback loop to incorporate lessons learned or to make improvements before we make the next shipments,” he said.