Office of Environmental Management

Paducah Site Restores Rail Service to Support Cleanup, DUF6 Operations

February 27, 2018

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Workers make progress in the culvert replacement project in December.
Workers make progress in the culvert replacement project in December.

PADUCAH, Ky. – Railroad tracks to and from EM’s Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in western Kentucky recently returned to service after a failed drainage culvert forced a temporary closure.

   Swift & Staley, Inc., the infrastructure support services contractor for the Paducah Site, completed the project last month for EM’s Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office (PPPO). After construction, rail service supporting the site’s environmental cleanup and depleted uranium hexafluoride conversion operations resumed following certified inspections and DOE approval. 

   “The timely repairs to the rail line allowed for several work activities to resume at the Paducah Site,” PPPO Paducah Site Lead Jennifer Woodard said. “The deactivation and remediation contractor was able to resume waste shipments by rail, which enabled them to meet contractual milestones.”

   The Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride (DUF6) Conversion Project is now able to resume shipping by rail, reducing potential risks and improving schedule compliance and cost control.

Crews replaced the culvert’s previous 48-inch pipe with two 72-inch pipes.
Crews replaced the culvert’s previous 48-inch pipe with two 72-inch pipes.
Railcars await shipments scheduled to depart the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant over a newly repaired drainage culvert.
Railcars await shipments scheduled to depart the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant over a newly repaired drainage culvert.

   While conducting a monthly track inspection last year, the contractor discovered a depression in the track embankment had appeared since the previous inspection. A 48-inch reinforced concrete pipe culvert had deteriorated, causing its joints to begin to separate. The culvert dates back to the original construction of the Kentucky Ordnance Works in the 1940s to support TNT production during World War II and had been in service for approximately 70 years.

   During the design phase of the repair project, a hydraulic analysis revealed the culvert was undersized and two 72-inch corrugated metal pipe culverts were chosen to replace the single 48-inch pipe. Each replacement pipe is 140 feet in length and had to be placed approximately 25 feet below grade. After the project obtained environmental permits, local subcontractor Danny Cope & Sons Excavating cleared trees and brush, removed more than 130 feet of track, and excavated approximately 4,100 cubic yards of soil to place the new structures.

   No additional railroad culverts were identified as requiring replacement.

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