There’s a new management team at EM's two depleted uranium hexafluoride (DUF6) conversion facilities, with Mid-America Conversion Services (MCS) now in place as the facilities’ operating contractor.
Last September, EM selected MCS to operate the facilities at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah, Ky., and the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, Ohio. The facilities are intended to convert approximately 800,000 metric tons of stored DUF6 inventory at the two sites into depleted uranium oxide, a more stable chemical form that can be reused, stored or disposed. Constructed in the early 2000s, the plants were most recently operated by BWXT Conversion Services. MCS began full-scale operations Feb. 1 after a 90-day transition period.
“MCS appreciates the collaborative spirit exhibited by BWXT to help make this transition successful.” MCS President and Project Manager Alan Parker said. “We will work closely with the Department of Energy, employees, United Steel Workers Locals 550 and 689, stakeholders and site contractors to meet DOE's objectives safely, efficiently and compliantly.”
Led by Atkins, the MCS team includes Westinghouse Electric Company and Fluor Federal Services. Atkins brings program management, nuclear and chemical operations and commercial waste processing expertise. Westinghouse Electric Company has experience in conversion operations. Fluor Federal Services provides integration into the Paducah and Portsmouth sites.
“The MCS team brings experience, knowledge and a solid approach to the operations of our DUF6 plants. We look forward to working with them to accomplish the goals of the DUF6 project,” EM Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office Manager Robert Edwards said.
The MCS team is led by a familiar face in the EM project management world, Alan Parker of Atkins. In his 35-year career, Parker has worked on 10 major DOE projects, including lessons learned related to commissioning and operations activities at Portsmouth and Paducah.
Former PPPO contractor Bob Giroir serves as the Portsmouth plant manager and brings expertise in nuclear waste management, chemical plant operations and facility surveillance and maintenance at EM and UK Nuclear Decommissioning Authority sites. Giroir held leadership roles at Hanford, Fernald, Paducah, Oak Ridge, Savannah River, Portsmouth and Magnox (UK) facilities. His understanding of the Portsmouth and Paducah site missions and infrastructure, and his relationships with EM site management, PPPO, regulators and stakeholders provides continuity of operations for DUF6.
Phillip Weaver of Westinghouse serves as the Paducah plant manager. He has 28 years of chemical and nuclear fuel fabrication operations experience applying Westinghouse’s continuous improvement tools to enhance nuclear fuel reconversion operations at commercial plants. He began his career as a production operator at a nuclear fuel fabrication plant in Missouri, ultimately advancing to the role of production manager, leading a 120-person union-represented organization.
Rounding out the senior management team is Chief Administrative Officer Sharon Shirley, Implementation Tech Officer Todd Butz, and Chief Engineer Fred Jackson.
The MCS team believes the combined experience of the three partners will lead to success at the DUF6 plants.
“MCS is committed to improving safety, strengthening conduct of operations, enhancing maintenance, and increasing production by applying our safe flow technique, which is the application of safety, quality and production through our integrated production system. Success is measured by achieving green status in all three areas, indicating conditions are positive,” Parker said.