Office of Environmental Management

U.S., Ohio Approve Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant Site D&D Plans

July 30, 2015

You are here

The Portsmouth Site’s large process buildings and other facilities are shown here.

The Portsmouth Site’s large process buildings and other facilities are shown here.

PIKETON, Ohio – The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) and DOE have agreed to a plan to demolish the massive, iconic process buildings and other facilities undergoing deactivation and decommissioning (D&D) at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

   The formal Record of Decision (ROD) for the Process Buildings and Complex Facilities D&D Project details DOE’s decision for the D&D of the plant’s three large process buildings (each more than 30 acres under roof) and other facilities and auxiliary systems.  

   The decision comes on the heels of a waste disposition decision Ohio EPA and DOE recently agreed to that calls for the construction of an on-site waste disposal facility as part of the remedy for more than 2 million cubic yards of D&D waste. Waste that does not meet the approved acceptance criteria for the onsite facility will be shipped off site for disposal at appropriate licensed federal or commercial disposal facilities.

   “These are some of the largest buildings ever constructed. Their size and function during production years make D&D of this plant a complicated endeavor,” said William E. Murphie, manager of DOE’s Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office. “The Department of Energy thanks the Ohio EPA for its collaborative and thorough review, and the Portsmouth Site Specific Advisory Board and all stakeholders who participated in this multi-year process. These decisions are a major milestone in moving the D&D project forward in a safe, efficient, and environmentally responsible manner.”

   A proposed plan for the facilities’ demolition was issued in November 2014 and a subsequent four-month public comment period and a public meeting were conducted. All of the several hundred comments were reviewed and considered in the ROD’s final language.

   DOE evaluated two alternatives on how to conduct the D&D of more than 200 buildings and structures under consideration. Alternative 1 was no action, which provided a basis for comparison, but the risk to human health and the environment made Alternative 1 unacceptable. DOE’s preferred alternative — Alternative 2 — includes the controlled removal of stored waste, materials, hazards, process gas equipment, and process piping. It includes:

  • Demolition of the buildings or structures;
  • Characterization and demolition of underground man-made features;
  • Treatment as needed to meet transportation and disposal requirements;
  • Packaging of generated waste for final disposal; and
  • Transportation and disposal of the waste.

The plan also provides:

  • An opportunity for the installed portions of the site infrastructure, which are deemed valuable to the community for post-cleanup industrialization, to remain.
  • Recovery of materials from the gaseous diffusion processing equipment for possible recycling and reuse, to the extent it continues to be considered safe, cost-effective, and in the best interests of the project.
  • Promotion of recycling of building materials as an option for disposal when it can be done safely, compliantly, and in a cost-effective manner.

   The plant is located on a 3,777-acre reservation near Piketon. It was constructed between 1952 and 1956. Uranium enrichment operations spanned from 1954 until 2001 for national defense applications and the commercial nuclear fuel industry.