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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)



The Dayton area supported secret operations for the War Department during World War II. Known only as the Dayton Project, extensive chemical and metallurgical research had been done in the support of the Manhattan Engineering District. At the end of the war, that work was moved from facilities in Dayton to permanent facilities in Miamisburg. The plant (then called Mound Laboratory) was operated by Monsanto Chemical Company from its opening until 1988, when Monsanto decided not to seek renewal of its management contract. EG&G Inc. won the contract to run the facility and began its tenure in 1988. The plant consolidated and continued the work of the Dayton Units for the Manhattan Project.

During the Cold War, the plant produced polonium-beryllium initiators, which were used in early atomic weapons. The site also researched and manufactured radionuclides. In the 1950s, the facility manufactured nuclear weapons components such as cable assemblies, explosive detonators, and electronic firing sets. The site's primary mission was the process development, production engineering, manufacturing, surveillance, and evaluation of explosive components for the U.S. nuclear defense stockpile. Its secondary missions included nuclear material safeguard, radioactive waste management and recovery, the building and testing of nuclear generators, and the purification of non-radioactive isotopes for medical, industrial and agricultural research. In 1989, with the end of the cold war the Department of Energy initiated a reconfiguration process that called for the eventual closing of the Mound Plant and the removal of equipment and materials to other DOE sites. Non-weapons work was ended in 1972. The DOE decommissioned Mound in 1993. The production of weapons components was ended in 1995.

The Miamisburg Environmental Management Project (MEMP) was previously responsible for site cleanup. It worked to implement Mound 2000, an initiative to expedite cleanup. Nuclear energy programs continued at the site with the development assembly, disassembly, and testing of radioisotopic thermoelectric generators (RTGs) for the National Aeronautical and Space Administration's deep-space missions. The process of generating electricity through thermoelectric conversion using a radioisotope heat source was developed and patented at the site in 1954. Recent uses of the RTGs were in the Galileo and Ulysses spacecrafts, now on missions to Jupiter and the sun, respectively. Four other RTGs were prepared for the 1997 Cassini mission to Saturn.

The Mound Site was involved in a number of weapon and non-weapon programs until the late 1980s, including research, development, and production of explosive detonators, timers, transducers, switches, firesets, nuclear components, and surveillance performed on various explosive and nuclear components of weapons taken from the stockpile. The Mound Site was the commercial supplier for stable isotopes for the DOE until FY 1996. Stable isotope program activities have included the development of isotope separation methods for biomedical applications; molecular research; isotope separation research and development; stable isotope inventory program and worldwide sales; and isotope separation by chemical exchange. The Mound Site's mission also included the recovery and purification of tritium from tritium-containing scrap materials for future use. Contractor activities at the Mound Site were managed by the Miamisburg Environmental Management Project Office (MB) at the direction of the DOE Ohio Field Office (OH), with programmatic direction provided by the Headquarters Office of Environmental Management (EM). In 1996, there were approximately 1,074 contractor and 200 DOE personnel employed by either OH or MB.

EG&G Mound Applied Technologies, Inc. (EG&G MAT) was the management and operating contractor until approximately March 1997 when a 6-month contract extension period was set to expire. EG&G MAT was awarded the management and operating contract by DOE in 1988. A new management integrating contract was expected to exceed $500 million, with a maximum duration not longer than nine years. The principal subcontractors included the Science Applications International Corporation, Weston, Terran Corporation, IT Corporation, Parsons Engineering, ICF Kaiser, American Technologies Incorporated, EG&G Technical Management Company, and A-Plus. The Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management became the cognizant secretarial officer in June 1995. The Office of Defense Programs (DP) had site responsibility prior to June 1995. The Office of Nuclear Energy (NE) also had programmatic interests at Mound.

For fiscal year 1996 the DOE Office of Environmental Management (EM) budget was approximately $94.2 million. About $7.3 million of the budget was controlled by MEMP for technical projects with organizations other than EG&G Mound Applied Technologies, the management and operating contractor. The estimated budget for FY 1997 was $90.3 million and $120.1 million for FY 1998. At the time, the site also had 25.6 kilograms of plutonium in 236 separate packages, and residual quantities of U-233 in the Semi-Works Tritium Complex.

The Mound Site worked to establish an environment, safety and health (ES&H) management planning process. Elements of this process included the placement of ES&H contract reform language into the request for proposal (RFP) so that a qualified management integrating contractor could be selected. The RFP contained a maximum contract duration period of nine years, with a value expected to exceed $500 million. Expected deliverables included an accelerated cleanup of the MEMP site, phase-out of the site tritium operations, continuation of the site Isotope Power Systems operations, and an accelerated economic transition to privatized usage of site facilities and assets. In 1995, a decision, which stemmed from the Mound 2000 initiative for expedited cleanup, was made to re-baseline plans for the environmental restoration program. DOE and the City of Miamisburg entered into lease agreements for some site buildings. The city, in turn, was subletting the property to independent businesses to encourage them to become part of a technology mall. In November 1995, seventeen businesses and 145 business employees were on site.

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