Paducah Site worker Cayce King connects a hose to a rail car to drain oil from the C-531 switchyard. Each rail car can hold approximately 25,000 gallons of oil.
Paducah Site worker Cayce King connects a hose to a rail car to drain oil from the C-531 switchyard. Each rail car can hold approximately 25,000 gallons of oil.

PADUCAH, Ky.EM’s Paducah Site recently transferred approximately 210,000 gallons of electrical insulating oil to support economic development in the region.

The Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization (PACRO) will reuse or recycle the oil from the Paducah Site’s C-531 Switchyard to provide a revenue stream for economic development in the Kentucky counties of McCracken, Ballard, Marshall, and Graves, and Massac County in Illinois.

“The funds generated from the sale of this oil will help boost economic development efforts in our region,” PACRO Executive Director Greg Wiles said. “The partnership PACRO has with DOE allows us to create value to our communities by reusing materials or generating revenue from the sale and recycling of excess property and equipment. We are fortunate to have this partnership in place.”

Paducah Site worker Matt Gill hooks up a hose to a switchyard electrical component to pump oil into rail cars for transfer to the Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization.
Paducah Site worker Matt Gill hooks up a hose to a switchyard electrical component to pump oil into rail cars for transfer to the Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization.

During its peak uranium-enrichment operations, the former Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP) used four switchyards to provide power to its four large process buildings. Power could be routed through one of more than 90 oil-filled circuit breakers to oil-filled transformers located in the switchyards. The transformer oil acted as an insulator and cooling agent in the system.

EM is committed to community partnerships and works to ensure excess items are made available to PACRO for economic development when appropriate, according to EM Paducah Site Lead Jennifer Woodard of the Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office.

She added that EM is also working to reduce overall utility costs and minimize utility distribution systems no longer needed. Since the Paducah Site began deactivating the switchyards, more than 500,000 gallons of transformer oil has been transferred to PACRO.

“Part of our mission at the Paducah Site is to reduce waste and to ensure we are good stewards of the environment,” Woodard said. “This effort includes finding ways to reuse or recycle materials no longer needed at the site. This stewardship provides an added benefit to our community through PACRO.”

Paducah Site workers monitor progress as oil is drained from the C-531 Switchyard into a railcar for transfer to the Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization. The transfer required the use of nine rail cars containing a total of approximately 210,000 gallons of transformer oil.
Paducah Site workers monitor progress as oil is drained from the C-531 Switchyard into a railcar for transfer to the Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization.

The C-531 Switchyard is the last of Paducah’s electrical switchyards to be shut down. It has been replaced by a more energy efficient substation powered and monitored by the Tennessee Valley Authority, a corporate agency of the U.S. that provides electricity for business customers and local power companies, serving 10 million people in parts of seven southeastern states.

Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership (FRNP), EM’s deactivation and remediation contractor, will complete the final steps to deactivate the switchyard this summer.

“Since PGDP ceased operations in 2013, electricity needs at the Paducah Site have reduced significantly,” FRNP Program Manager Myrna Redfield said. “The switchyards were designed to deliver up to 3,000 megawatts per hour. Today, the site only requires about 10 megawatts per hour. Deactivating the switchyards allows DOE to advance its cleanup mission.”