Demolition and disposal shifted into high gear this spring at the DOE’s former uranium enrichment plant in Ohio.
In the 1950s, the U.S. Department of Energy constructed the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in rural southern Ohio to enrich uranium, alongside two other federally owned and managed facilities in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and Paducah, Ky. The Cold War-era plant was built as a self-sufficient industrial city with more than 400 buildings and facilities centered around three massive gaseous diffusion process buildings that could enrich the level of the uranium-235 isotope for nuclear fuel in the defense and energy sectors.
DRUM team members at the Telluride 18 mine in the Yellow Cat area of southwest Colorado.
Based on a review of U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) records and available data from numerous agencies, there are an estimated 4,225 mines across the country that provided uranium ore to the U.S. government for defense-related purposes between 1947 and 1970. To aid in the cleanup of these legacy uranium mines and establish a record of their locations and current conditions, the Defense-Related Uranium Mines (DRUM) program was established within the Department of Energy’s Office of Legacy Management (LM).
A view of the entrance to tower #22, showing the dismantled part of an inclined column.
While the construction of two additional reactors at Slovakia’s Mochovce nuclear plant (Units 3 and 4) may get most of the attention, it isn’t the only major project underway there. In October of last year, plant owner Slovenské Elektrárne commenced the first phase of an effort to revitalize two of the four 125-meter-tall, Iterson-type cooling towers that serve the facility’s two operating reactors—both of which began generating electricity in the late 1990s. Towers #11 and #21 had been refurbished in 2011 and 2012, respectively. The other two, however, towers #12 and #22, had never undergone refurbishment.