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.
A screenshot from the Local 12 report. (Image: WKRC/Sinclair)
In May 2019, Zahn’s Corner Middle School in Pike County, Ohio, located within four miles of the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PORTS), was closed after local officials reported enriched uranium and transuranic radionuclides were detected inside the school and at outside air monitors.
Now, Cincinnati’s WKRC Local 12, a news affiliate of Sinclair Broadcast Group, is reporting that a private house in Lucasville, Ohio, 10 miles from the PORTS site, has been contaminated with enriched uranium.
A DUF6 storage cylinder is moved at the Portsmouth DUF6 conversion facility. (Photo: DOE)
The Government Accountability Office is recommending that Congress clarify the Department of Energy’s legal authority to sell depleted uranium hexafluoride (DUF6) left over from uranium enrichment operations at the department’s Portsmouth Site in Ohio and the Paducah Site in Kentucky.
Workers remove asbestos siding panels from a Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant building. Photo: Business Wire
Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth, a joint venture of Fluor and BWX Technologies, along with engineering company Jacob, have received a contract extension valued at up to $690 million, including options, from the Department of Energy. The contract, announced April 6, is for environmental management work at the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant near Piketon, Ohio.