Office of Environmental Management

A ‘Star’ is Born: The DUF6 Conversion Project's VPP Story

November 19, 2019

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Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office Manager Robert Edwards speaks at the Portsmouth Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride Voluntary Protection Program ceremony.
Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office Manager Robert Edwards speaks at the Portsmouth Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride Voluntary Protection Program ceremony.

PIKE COUNTY, Ohio – The workforce at EM’s Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride (DUF6) Conversion Project has earned Star status from DOE's Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) for its occupational safety and health excellence at the Portsmouth Site.

Along their way to achieving the VPP honors, Mid-America Conversion Services (MCS) and its United Steel Workers (USW) union workforce accomplished three years of award-winning safety performance.

MCS, the contractor that took over responsibility for the plant operations and safe storage of DUF6 cylinders in 2017, surpassed 3.1 million safe working hours, began addressing highest-risk storage cylinders, exceeded recent production goals, and demonstrated 85-plus percent plant availability. A high availability leads to improved productivity and safe sustainable operations.

“The safety posture reflected by the DUF6 project personnel has been the result of hard work and dedication; the VPP Star status is proof that safety is at the forefront of everything they do,” said Robert E. Edwards III, manager of EM’s Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office (PPPO). “This is an outstanding accomplishment and MCS should be very proud."

From left, Pete Coutts, Portsmouth plant manager; Tara Warren, Portsmouth logistics manager; and Jeremy Bates, Portsmouth facility manager and Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) coordinator, show their VPP Star certificate.
From left, Pete Coutts, Portsmouth plant manager; Tara Warren, Portsmouth logistics manager; and Jeremy Bates, Portsmouth facility manager and Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) coordinator, show their VPP Star certificate.
Three years of safety improvements at the Portsmouth Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride Conversion facility were recently underscored by DOE’s Voluntary Protection Program Star status recognition.
Three years of safety improvements at the Portsmouth Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride Conversion facility were recently underscored by DOE’s Voluntary Protection Program Star status recognition.
From left, Mid-America Conversion Services (MCS) Environment, Safety and Health Manager Rob Lindsay; MCS Operations Manager III Mark Hauserman;
From left, Mid-America Conversion Services (MCS) Environment, Safety and Health Manager Rob Lindsay; MCS Operations Manager III Mark Hauserman;

Working through cooperative efforts among labor, management, and government at DOE contractor sites, the VPP promotes improved safety and health performance through public recognition of outstanding programs.

MCS President and Project Manager Zack Smith said the company’s safety improvements and the milestones over the last three years were made possible through a strong, collaborative relationship developed between the USW workforce, MCS employees, management, and DOE.

“MCS will continue to be an advocate for employee involvement as we prepare for and execute all of our work activities,” Smith added.

Glenn Eskridge, an MCS operator technician and former USW safety representative, said the DUF6 project places safety above all else.

"Our Star status shows our hard work and dedication to safety. We’re doing it right,” he said.

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