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Workers removed the two 2,000-pound containers of liquid chlorine at the X-611 Water Treatment Facility at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
Workers removed the two 2,000-pound containers of liquid chlorine at the X-611 Water Treatment Facility at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

PIKETON, Ohio – EM recently modernized a 60-year-old treatment process at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, improving the safety and cost-effectiveness of the site’s potable water system.

   Workers replaced two 2,000-pound containers of chlorine at the X-611 Water Treatment Plant with a liquid bleach system.

   The new treatment system reduces hazards: If the bleach would spill in the event of an accident, it would be much less dangerous than a gaseous chlorine release from the previous system that could trigger an area emergency. 

   Portsmouth Site Lead Joel Bradburne of EM’s Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office (PPPO) said the measure makes sense from a safety and cost perspective.

   “We are always looking for continuous improvement when it comes to the safety of human health and the environment,” Bradburne said. “This is an example of how we saw an opportunity to improve safety, and it’s also a cost savings.”

   Tom Martin, with the site’s deactivation and decommissioning prime contractor, Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth LLC (FBP), said the old chlorine containers were part of site emergency drill and exercise scenarios. 

   “One of the major considerations was our safety basis (evacuation zones and Emergency Operations Center drills),” Martin said. “The biggest risk has been the two 1-ton chlorine containers that we used to treat our water. By replacing them, we’re able to reduce the evacuation zones and our contingency planning for the water treatment facility.” 

Fluor-BWXT Facility Manager Doug Davis (left) and employee Carl Faub complete paperwork to approve the cylinder for transport.
Fluor-BWXT Facility Manager Doug Davis (left) and employee Carl Faub complete paperwork to approve the cylinder for transport.

   The new system blends a 12.5-percent bleach solution with water down to a 6-percent solution similar in concentration to household bleach. It is added to the water supply at a 1-percent concentration. 

   “The chlorine gas was a very reliable system, but this one is safer, as reliable, and more automated. The flow meters calculate the flow and automatically add the bleach,” FBP Facility Manager Doug Davis said. “Now you can set the flow meter and it will automatically increase or decrease the pumping of bleach into the system. The water has to have contact with the bleach for at least six hours to kill organisms.” 

   The X-611 treats approximately 1.8 million gallons of drinking water a day.

   The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency approved the new system last year.