PIKE COUNTY, Ohio – Next month, the most significant milestone in the Portsmouth Site’s decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) project so far is set to be realized as the X-326 Uranium Enrichment Process Building is poised to be declared “criticality incredible.”
One of the final steps of deactivation, a “C.I.” designation means the massive building is radiologically safe for demolition, which is expected in late 2020.
“From an environmental, programmatic, technical, and regulatory standpoint, the Portsmouth Site is poised to proceed to final cleanup and closure sooner than many thought possible just a few years ago,” said Robert E. Edwards III, manager of EM’s Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office.
Numerous environmental cleanup efforts have taken place at the Portsmouth Site since EM’s establishment, and much of it well before the end of gaseous-diffusion uranium enrichment in 2001. These efforts include treating contaminated groundwater, closing landfills and lagoons, and removing waste and inactive facilities.
Challenging as those projects have been, they are dwarfed in size and complexity by the X-326 Building, whose deactivation required removal of thousands of pieces of process gas equipment and over a million measurements of residual uranium in process piping and tubing.
The Portsmouth D&D program, which began in 2011, addresses approximately 415 total facilities. This includes three process buildings and equipment that span an area equivalent to 158 football fields, along with other structures.
In 2015, the State of Ohio and DOE agreed to the plan to demolish the process buildings that is now being implemented. The record of decision (ROD) for the Portsmouth process buildings and complex facilities D&D project was finalized following a multi-year public outreach process, public meetings, and an extended four-month public-comment period. A related ROD also was finalized approving a combination of off-site disposal and construction of the On-Site Waste Disposal Facility (OSWDF).
Both the D&D and the waste disposition projects associated with the plant’s three large enrichment process buildings are underway. The OSWDF is under construction with the first placement of liners and a leak detection system installed to prepare for receiving demolition debris from the X-326 into the first waste cell beginning next year.
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