Piqua, Ohio, Decommissioned Reactor Site map.


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Legacy Management (LM) has issued a final Environmental Assessment (EA) (DOE/EA-2107) and Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) to demolish the buildings and maintain protectiveness of the entombed low-level radiological waste materials at the Piqua, Ohio, Decommissioned Reactor Site in Miami County.

For more information, see DOE/EA-2107 Final Environmental Assessment and Finding of No Significant Impact.

As part of the DOE Defense Decontamination and Decommissioning (D&D) Program, the Office of Legacy Management manages the Piqua Decommissioned Reactor Site and ensures compliance with applicable federal, state, and local environmental protection laws and regulations, executive orders, and internal DOE policies. The site transferred to the Office of Legacy Management in 2003 and requires routine inspection and maintenance, records-related activities, and stakeholder support. For more information about the Piqua site, view the fact sheet.

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Video courtesy of the Department of Energy Office of Legacy Management

Frequently Asked Questions: Piqua Site Demolition

Below are some frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the Piqua site. DOE will update this FAQ related to this project on a semiannual basis until the project is complete.

  • Is the Piqua site safe?
    • Yes, the Piqua site, is and will remain in a safe configuration, including the surrounding area and Great Miami River, throughout demolition and after. Safety is DOE’s top priority. DOE is taking appropriate safeguards to protect the workforce and members of the public during demolition, such as using misters for dust suppression and conducting air monitoring of the site perimeter. The state of Ohio has concurred with DOE’s findings that the only radioactive material on-site is within an 8-foot-thick concrete entombment that will be protected during demolition. DOE continues to work with the local and state regulatory authorities to execute the project safely and ensure the protection of human health and the environment. 
  • What if the entombment is accidently breached?
    • The demolition activities will not breach the entombment, which consists of 8-foot-thick concrete and called a bioshield. Approximately 2 feet of the interior of the bioshield is contaminated with activation products; however, the fuel (enriched uranium) has been removed from the core area of the reactor. Since the facility was designed to contain radioactivity from an operating reactor, the bioshield is capable of containing the activation products during the radioactive decay process.
  • What is DOE doing at the Piqua site? 
    • DOE is demolishing the uncontaminated buildings at the Piqua site, with active demolition starting in early May. DOE will dispose all demolition debris off-site at an approved disposal facility. DOE does not anticipate that these activities will generate radiological waste.

      After demolition, DOE will further reinforce the on-site entombment, which contains low-level radiological material, with specialized concrete that is extremely durable, waterproof, and self-healing. DOE will also protect the area above the entombment with concrete barriers and riprap and regrade the remaining portions of the site to match the surrounding landscape, for anticipated use by the city of Piqua. 
  • Why is DOE proposing to demolish the site?
    • Since 1969, DOE has leased the site to the city of Piqua in perpetuity. In 2018, the city informed DOE they are no longer interested in leasing the facilities. Through an Environmental Assessment, DOE received public input and evaluated the best alternatives for the future management of the site; demolishing the facility was the best option.
  • Who is paying to have the evaluation conducted? 
    • DOE is responsible for the site, the demolition, and maintaining protectiveness of the entombment throughout demolition. DOE is funding the entire process.
  • How much is the demolition going to cost?
    • DOE anticipates this project will cost approximately $17 million.
  • How long will the demolition take?
    • Approximately 15-18 months. DOE anticipates that demolition activities will start in spring 2022 and be complete by fall 2023.
  • How much noise and inconvenience will the demolition cause? 
    • DOE is taking steps to minimize impacts to the local community. DOE has coordinated with the city of Piqua to determine appropriate traffic routes that will minimize congestion. DOE expects demolition-related noise to be minimal and remain in compliance with all health and safety standards. DOE is coordinating with the city of Piqua to temporarily relocate the public bike trail around the site; the planned route will be similar to what was done when the city of Piqua upgraded their wastewater-treatment plant.
  • Who can I contact if I have questions?
    • Please email questions to Piqua@lm.doe.gov.
  • What happens after demolition?
    • After demolition, the city of Piqua will be able to use the site as a commercial and industrial laydown area, as per the existing lease. The city of Piqua supports this land use, which is consistent with the surrounding areas. The property will have land use restrictions (e.g., no-dig restrictions), and DOE will continue stewardship responsibilities, including long-term surveillance and monitoring of the site. The site will be suitable for commercial and industrial use long-term. The site will not be suitable for residential use.
  • How did a reactor get in Piqua anyway?
    • President Dwight D. Eisenhower was an early driver for the use of atomic energy for peaceful civilian purposes. His “Atoms for Peace” initiative prompted the development of a diverse number of small nuclear reactors that could be built domestically or overseas. The Eisenhower administration envisioned the small reactors providing steam to existing electric generation turbines and replacing existing coal-fired steam plants, both domestically and overseas. One of the key considerations was that the nuclear-generated steam had to be cost competitive with coal-generated steam. 

      The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) — predecessor agency to DOE — also promoted the development of nuclear reactors to provide power. In 1955, AEC announced the first round of the Power Reactor Demonstration Program (PRDP) to stimulate the design, construction, and operation of experimental nuclear reactors for electricity generation. 

      The city of Piqua sent in a PRDF proposal to build a demonstration reactor, which would be the first organically cooled and moderated, 45.5-megawatt thermal reactor. The prototype used a commercially available mixture of aromatic hydrocarbons, called terphenyls, to cool the reactor. The 27-foot-tall vessel was made of low-carbon steel, and its 7.6-foot-diameter interior had an average wall thickness of 2 inches. The reactor produced 150,000 pounds per hour of 550 degrees Fahrenheit, superheated steam, at a pressure of 450 pounds per square inch. The reactor pumped the steam through footbridge pipes across the Great Miami River to turbo generators in the Piqua municipal power plant to augment the city’s power supply. Beginning in 1963, AEC contracted with the city of Piqua to operate and maintain the facility.

      The Piqua reactor, however, experienced operational issues and operated for less than two years. In addition to technical issues, economic considerations pushed AEC to officially shut down the reactor in 1966 and terminate its contract with the city of Piqua in 1967; dismantling and decommissioning activities began that year. AEC completed decommissioning the reactor, which included entombing the reactor vessel on-site, in 1969. 

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