In August 1952, the AEC selected a tract of land in the Ohio Valley along the Scioto River in Pike County, Ohio, for the site of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, the third of three GDPs in the United States. In 1956, construction of the plant was completed, and the plant began enriching uranium for nuclear weapons. In the 1960s, Portsmouth’s mission changed to focus on producing fuel for commercial nuclear power plants and other national security applications.
An extensive environmental cleanup program began at the 3,777-acre site in 1989, with deactivation and decommissioning activities initiated in 2011. The DOE near-term focus is the deactivation and decommissioning of 415 facilities, including the three former uranium enrichment process buildings (X-326, X-333, and X-330), each measuring over 50 acres of floor area. The site also continues to maintain utility operations, monitor air and water emissions, and operate several groundwater treatment facilities to address legacy groundwater contamination caused by former plant operations.
The Portsmouth Site is also home to one of DOE’s two DUF6 conversion plants. DUF6 was a byproduct from the uranium enrichment operations at the three enrichment plants in Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Portsmouth, Ohio; and Paducah, Kentucky. DOE has a total inventory of approximately 67,000 steel cylinders at the Portsmouth and Paducah sites. At Portsmouth, the DUF6 conversion facility began operation in 2010.
Planned Cleanup Scope 2021–2031
Over the next decade, DOE plans to make significant progress in addressing the three former uranium enrichment process buildings at the site, with demolition of two to be completed in that time frame.
Preparations are underway to start demolition of the X-326 Building, the first of three process buildings. In 2021, DOE will demolish four of 10 sections of the building. By 2031, DOE will complete demolition of the X-326 and X-333 Process Buildings, and complete deactivation of the X-330 Process Building.
Next year, DOE expects to begin utilizing the OSWDF for demolition debris from the X-326 Process Building. In 2021, the haul road and the modular leachate treatment system will be completed to support operation of the OSWDF. Additionally, excavation of one of the groundwater plumes will provide fill for a portion of the X-326 demolition debris. Construction of the first three cells of the OSWDF are scheduled for completion by 2022 and will be used for all of the demolition debris from the X-326 Process Building.
Construction of the next three cells of the OSWDF, as well as the remaining infrastructure, is scheduled to begin in the 2025 time frame. This will support demolition of the X-333 Process Building. Based on capacity needs to support the demolition of X-330 and other remaining site facilities, four to six additional OSWDF cells will be constructed. Additionally, over the next decade, three landfills and an additional plume will be excavated and disposed at the OSWDF.
At the Portsmouth DUF6 conversion facility, DOE will convert 2,000 metric tons of DUF6 and complete planned plant safety upgrades. By 2031, approximately 56,000 metric tons of DUF6 will be converted and approximately 8.5 million gallons of hydrogen fluoride will be shipped off-site for commercial use.
Key Regulatory Milestones 2021–2031
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