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The Paducah Site checked off an EM 2023 priority by removing 1 million pounds of R-114 refrigerant from the site. The milestone shipment that led the site to achieve the priority is pictured here.

PADUCAH, Ky. — The Paducah Site recently met an EM 2023 priority ahead of schedule with the safe and successful disposal of over 1 million pounds of R-114 refrigerant, an environmental hazard stored at the site.

Removing that amount of R-114 refrigerant from the environment has an impact equal to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from taking about 10,000 vehicles off the road each year.

“For the third year, Paducah Site has risen to this million-mark challenge. Removing the R-114 from the Paducah Site will significantly reduce this legacy hazard,” Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office Manager Joel Bradburne said. “The steady progress made on the shipment of R-114 disposal at the Paducah Site is a testament to the project team’s focus and safety commitment.”

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Commonly known as Freon, R-114 played an important role in supporting uranium enrichment operations at EM’s Paducah Site before operations ceased in 2014. The site produced large quantities of heat as a result of compressing uranium hexafluoride gas. R-114 was pumped into the system to control temperatures during the conversion process.

Over half of the more than 8 million pounds of R-114 onsite has been shipped and disposed of while another 1 million pounds is planned to be shipped in 2024. Significant improvements, including upgrading shipment trailers and strategic partnerships with commercial incinerators, ensure the continued safe and compliant disposal of R-114 from the site.

“Our partnerships with industry leaders have been pivotal in meeting this milestone,” said Myrna Redfield, program manager with Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership, the deactivation and remediation contractor for the Paducah Site. “Agreements with our commercial partners to increase the amount of R-114 shipped from the site is key to meeting the disposition set by DOE.”

-Contributor: Dylan Nichols