Photo of rail shipment from Portsmouth site
The first major shipment of depleted uranium oxide from the Portsmouth Site in Ohio recently departed in specially modified gondola rail cars bound for Texas.

PIKE COUNTY, Ohio – With the safe arrival of 120 storage cylinders by rail in west Texas last week, EM achieved another milestone in its offsite shipping and disposal of depleted uranium oxide (DUOx).

This marked the first such shipment of the stable crystalline powder from EM’s Portsmouth Site in Ohio.

Earlier this year, the first multi-car rail shipment arrived at the same licensed facility from EM’s Paducah Site in Kentucky.

“This accomplishment shows that EM can effectively and efficiently ship this material in bulk from both the Portsmouth and Paducah sites in a safe and sustainable way,” said Joel Bradburne, manager of EM’s Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office (PPPO), which oversees the project.

DUOx is converted from the Department’s more than 700,000 metric-ton inventory of depleted uranium hexafluoride (DUF6) stored and managed at both Portsmouth and Paducah.

DUF6 resulted from more than six decades of uranium enrichment at the nation’s former gaseous diffusion plants at Oak Ridge, Portsmouth, and Paducah. It is converted at Portsmouth and Paducah to both DUOx and aqueous hydrofluoric acid (HF). The DUOx is suitable for beneficial reuse, while some of it is disposed at licensed facilities. The HF co-product is recycled in industry to offset conversion costs.

More than 90,000 metric tons of DUF6 have been converted by PPPO since it commissioned specialized conversion facilities beginning in 2010.

Photo of people posing with rail cars ready for shipment
Personnel with Mid-America Conversion Services gather in front of 20 gondola rail cars containing 120 uranium oxide cylinders shortly before their recent offsite shipment from the Portsmouth Site.

“I am proud of our dedicated teams at both Portsmouth and Paducah for working out the complex logistics and coordination of such a major operation," Mid-America Conversion Services (MCS) President and Project Manager Dutch Conrad said. MCS is the operations and maintenance contractor for EM’s DUF6 project.

Conrad added that effective communication and collaboration among MCS, its United Steel Workers workforce, and the railroad — along with continuous GPS monitoring and EM oversight — continues to demonstrate safe shipments that could increase to hundreds of cylinders per year in the near future.

-Contributors: Kearney Ackermann, Donnie Locke, Michelle Teeters