From left, Carl Rogers, Paul Mathews, and Gary Grega, from Mid-America Conversion Services subcontractor American Mechanical Group, change the cooling coil out of a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system at the Portsmouth Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride Conversion facility. Also pictured is Larry Carter with Capital City Crane, at far right. Safety performance includes evaluation of subcontractor work.
From left, Carl Rogers, Paul Mathews, and Gary Grega, from Mid-America Conversion Services subcontractor American Mechanical Group, change the cooling coil out of a heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system.

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Employees of Mid-America Conversion Services (MCS), the maintenance and operations contractor for EM’s Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride (DUF6) Conversion Project, recently surpassed 1 million working hours without a recordable injury or lost-time accident.

“MCS is committed to achieving and sustaining a world-class safety culture,” MCS Environment, Safety and Health (ES&H) Director Scott Nicholson said. “All of our employees maintain a questioning attitude, protect each other, feel free to raise concerns, and know the key for achieving sustained safe production is strengthening conduct of operations and maintenance.”

MCS operates the DUF6 conversion facilities and manages the nation’s inventory of the Cold-War uranium-enrichment byproduct at EM’s former gaseous diffusion plants in Ohio and Kentucky.

The DUF6 conversion process results in more stable compounds, uranium oxide for reuse or disposal, and hydrofluoric acid for recycling to industry. Combined, the two facilities have converted more than 84,000 metric tons of DUF6 since operations began in 2010. This represents approximately 10 percent of the initial inventory.

“A culture of safety is a journey, not a destination,” MCS President and Project Manager Zack Smith said. “It requires our continuing diligence, great leadership, and the support of our United Steel Workers partners to accomplish milestones such as this.”

Mid-America Conversion Services operator-technicians Pete Bowen, left, and Erica Stanley paint a cylinder with epoxy for contamination control.
Mid-America Conversion Services operator-technicians Pete Bowen, left, and Erica Stanley paint a cylinder with epoxy for contamination control.

MCS recently completed several plant modifications at EM’s Portsmouth, Ohio and Paducah, Kentucky facilities to improve their safety and reliability, and achieved them safely despite challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“MCS employees have always embraced safety as their top pillar in performing work,” said Joe Johnson, ES&H manager at Paducah. “This year, with the pandemic impacts, has been no different. It is a safety-rich environment and each employee has done his or her part in achieving ongoing safety success at the site.”

Zak Lafontaine, EM’s DUF6 program manager for the Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office, noted that safe work takes precedence under any circumstance.

“All personnel, from the front line to the senior leadership, share the same responsibility for safe work,” Lafontaine said. “This achievement demonstrates that communication, responsibility, and teamwork are key to building and maintaining a positive safety culture.”