Portsmouth Waste Disposal

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Preliminary design cross section of Planned On-site Disposal Cell

Preliminary design cross section of Planned On-site Disposal Cell

The Portsmouth Site Waste Management Program directs the safe storage, treatment, and disposal of waste generated from the decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) of facilities that are no longer in use, past plant operations, ongoing plant maintenance, and ongoing environmental restoration projects.

The volume of waste produced by the potential demolition of the Portsmouth facilities is estimated to be 1.47 million cubic yards. These will include more than 1.3 million cubic yards from the Process Buildings and Complex Facilities D&D Evaluation Project, as well as volumes of waste generated from earlier, smaller D&D decisions (approximately 170,000 cubic yards). Of this total 1.47 million cubic yards, DOE has identified up to 110,000 cubic yards of materials that are candidates to recycle and/or reuse, including copper, nickel, stainless steel, concrete, and aluminum. Throughout the D&D project, DOE would continually look for ways to treat waste and reduce the amount of waste to be disposed and/or increase the volume that can be recycled and/or reused.

Estimated D&D waste volumes to be disposed or recycled (after segregation and size reduction activities are conducted as part of the D&D decisions)

Waste Description Estimated Volume to be Disposed
(cubic yards)
Other Building Waste (including residual soil) 1,085,000
Process Gas Equipment 153,000*
Recyclables 110,000
D&D WASTE TOTAL 1,348,000

*Volume decreases significantly from size reduction efforts. Original volume is 272,000 cubic yards.

The total estimated volume of anticipated D&D waste is reduced from 1.47 million cubic yards to 1.348 million cubic yards as a result of size reducing the process gas equipment as part of a decision for the Process Buildings and Support Facilities D&D Evaluation Project.

Waste Disposition Record of Decision

This Portsmouth Site-wide Waste Disposition Record of Decision (ROD) identifies the selected alternative for disposing of waste anticipated to be produced from the D&D of PORTS.  The ROD was approved by DOE and concurred with by Ohio EPA in June 2015 following a formal, four-month public comment period.  DOE’s remedy for waste disposition at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant is a combination of on-site and off-site disposal. DOE’s objective with this approach is to manage the waste in a cost-effective manner, and to do so safely and compliantly.


Three remedial alternatives for management of anticipated D&D waste were developed for consideration. The Proposed Plan described the required no-action alternative (Alternative 1) and two action alternatives, the first of which considered a combination of on-site and off-site disposal (Alternative 2) and the second of which considered complete off-site disposal (Alternative 3). The preferred alternative was Alternative 2, a combination of both on-site and off-site disposal.

Alternative 2 was recommended because it protects human health, safety, and the environment; is reliable over the long term for anticipated D&D waste; uses proven waste containment technologies; and meets regulatory requirements.  Alternative 2 is also less costly, provides the shortest time for waste disposal, and reduces transportation risks.

On-Site Disposal Cell

Under the ROD, the majority of D&D wastes will remain at the Portsmouth Site in a state-of-the-art On-Site Disposal Cell (OSDC) designed to safely isolate the contaminants present in the waste and to prevent them from being released to the environment.  Of the 3,777 acres at the Site, about 100 acres would be dedicated to the potential OSDC.  Along with design and physical siting requirements, waste acceptance criteria have been set for the OSDC and approved by Ohio EPA.

Waste acceptance criteria are requirements that waste must meet before being placed in a disposal cell to ensure protection of human health, safety, and the environment.  Waste not meeting these criteria will be safely treated to meet the waste acceptance criteria or shipped to an off-site waste disposal facility.

Site Selection for OSDC is indicated on the map along with existing landfills (yellow) and groundwater plumes (purple).

Ports satellite map showing Landfills, Plumes and OSDC

Final Environmental Assessment: Conveyance of Real Property at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Pike County, Ohio