Office of Environmental Management

DUF6 Conversion Project Meets Fiscal 2019 Goal Six Months Early

April 30, 2019

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Paducah Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride Conversion Project workers pause for a photo to commemorate the project reaching its 9,000-metric-ton production goal ahead of schedule for fiscal 2019.
Paducah Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride Conversion Project workers pause for a photo to commemorate the project reaching its 9,000-metric-ton production goal ahead of schedule for fiscal 2019.

LEXINGTON, Ky.EM’s project to convert the nation’s inventory of depleted uranium hexafluoride (DUF6) to a more stable oxide form for subsequent reuse or disposal has reached its fiscal year production target for 2019 six months ahead of schedule.

Mid-America Conversion Services (MCS), which operates and maintains EM’s DUF6 conversion and storage facilities in southern Ohio and western Kentucky, recently surpassed its goal of processing 9,000 metric tons of the material in fiscal 2019.

"MCS has demonstrated a sustained commitment to safe and compliant operations at all levels within the organization while achieving this milestone, which is definitely something to be proud of,” said Zak Lafontaine of EM’s Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office, EM’s facility representative for the Portsmouth DUF6 plant.

Mid-America Conversion Services’ Bill Bowen, right foreground, driving, and Phil Gullett escort straddle-carrier driver Ron Rinehart outside the Portsmouth Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride (DUF6) conversion facility.
Mid-America Conversion Services’ Bill Bowen, right foreground, driving, and Phil Gullett escort straddle-carrier driver Ron Rinehart outside the Portsmouth Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride (DUF6) conversion facility.
Nathan Maynard, an operations technician with Mid-America Conversion Services, moves the Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride (DUF6) storage cylinder at the Portsmouth DUF6 conversion facility.
Nathan Maynard, an operations technician with Mid-America Conversion Services, moves the Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride (DUF6) storage cylinder at the Portsmouth DUF6 conversion facility.

The productive first two quarters of fiscal 2019 follow a successful restart of all seven conversion lines to simultaneous operation following several pauses for safety and maintenance purposes. Over three years, the project completed numerous facility and process improvements at both the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (GDP) site in Ohio and EM’s other former GDP site at Paducah, Kentucky.

Company officials attributed its recent success to a focus on maintaining a strong nuclear safety culture, and a commitment to the integrated safety management system in its conduct of operations and work practices across the sites.

"The efforts of our United Steel Workers, the support organizations, and our management ranks are laser-focused on safe operations,” said Fred Jackson, MCS’s chief operating officer and chief engineer. “The entire MCS team's formality, rigor, and discipline every day are evident in this tremendous accomplishment.”

Commissioned in 2011, EM’s conversion facilities are addressing more than 840,000 metric tons of DUF6 stored in 67,000 cylinders at both plant sites. MCS has been responsible for the facilities since commencing its contract in February 2017.

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