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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


The Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant is located in south central Ohio, approximately 32 kilometers (22 miles) north of Portsmouth, Ohio, and 112 kilometers (70 miles) south of Columbus, Ohio in Pike County, Ohio. The site is situated on a 3,714-acre federal reservation approximately 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) south of the Village of Piketon. The plant has a fenced area of about 640 acres, 93 of which contain process buildings. The plant had a design capacity of 7.4 million SWU per year.

In August 1952, the Atomic Energy Commission selected a tract of land in the Ohio Valley along the Scioto River in Pike County for the site of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant. Site selection was based on the availability of a vast expanse of relatively flat terrain (the original tract was 4,000 acres) as well as availability of large amounts of electrical power, a dependable source of water, local labor and suitable transportation routes.

Construction of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant began in late 1952. In March 1956, the more than $1.2 billion plant was completed six months ahead of schedule by Peter Kiewett Sons of Nebraska, the construction contractor, at a cost of $750 million, or more than $460 million less than the estimated construction cost. Construction required 69 million man-hours, more than 68,000 drawings and as many as 22,500 construction workers at its peak in the summer of 1954. More than 1,200 acres were cleared and more than 4.5 million cubic yards of earth were moved.

The plant was built to expand the Federal Government's gaseous diffusion program already in place at Oak Ridge, Tennessee and Paducah, Kentucky. Its purpose was to increase the production of enriched uranium at rates substantially above the other two facilities because highly-enriched uranium was required for use in nuclear submarine reactors and in nuclear weapons productions, and low-enriched uranium was needed for commercial nuclear power plants. The first process cell went online in September 1954.

In the 1960s, the Portsmouth plant's mission changed from enriching uranium for nuclear weapons to a more commercial focus. A gas centrifuge uranium enrichment program was initiated in the early 1980s at Portsmouth. However, because of the reduced demand for uranium enrichment services to fuel commercial nuclear power plants, in 1985 DOE canceled the Gas Centrifuge Enrichment Plant after spending $2.8 billion and before full operation. Production of enriched uranium for use by the U.S. Navy ceased in 1991. Since then, Portsmouth has produced only low-enriched uranium for commercial power plants.

The Energy Policy Act (EPAct) of 1992 established the government-owned United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) to assume the uranium enrichment operations from DOE. On July 1, 1993, management of the uranium enrichment operations at the Portsmouth GDP was transferred from DOE to USEC under a lease agreement. DOE is still responsible for environmental restoration and waste management activities at the plant. The enrichment operation became private in July 1998. Other portions of the site were leased to the Ohio National Guard and the Defense Logistics Agency.

The USEC facilities in Paducah, Kentucky, and Portsmouth, Ohio, work in tandem to enrich uranium for fuel in commercial nuclear power plants until May 2001, when uranium enrichment operations at Portsmouth were ended. Portsmouth had enriched uranium it received from Paducah from 2.75% up to 5%. Transfer and shipping operations were consolidated at Paducah in June 2002. The facility has been placed into cold standby mode.

Portsmouth is in Cold Shutdown awaiting D&D of 134 facilities encompassing over 10 million total square feet under roof. The three process buildings include: Building X-326, which is a half-mile long with a 30-acre roof and 2.6 million square feet of floor space; Building X-330, which is a half-mile long with a 33-acre roof and 2.8 million square feet of floor space; and Building X-333, which is a quarter-mile long with a 33-acre roof and about 2.8 million square feet of floor space. The estimated cost of the project is between $5 billion and $12 billion with a completion range between 2044 and 2052.

Currently, operations at Portsmouth include performing external contract work, such as cold-by, uranium deposit removal and winterization services for DOE. Other support services for DOE and USEC include providing security, fire services and emergency management, analytical laboratory services, computing and telecommunications, and environmental monitoring, and administrative and operational support facilities. It also decontaminates uranium feed material for DOE. The other mission at the plant is hosting USEC's American Centrifuge Demonstration Facility and eventually the American Centrifuge Plant.

The cleaning and change out of process equipment at the site generated spent solvents and other contaminants that were disposed of in on site landfills and surface impoundments. Contamination has also been found in process buildings, cooling towers, burial grounds and waste water ponds. Although the plant is now leased and operated by USEC, environmental restoration and related waste management activities associated with past practices was slated to be conducted by DOE. However, under the provisions of the lease, future plant shut down and cleanup activities was to be the responsibility of USEC. Cleanup at Portsmouth is being conducted under the RCRA Corrective Action Program. The State of Ohio and the DOE entered into a Consent Agreement in 1989. The Ohio EPA has the responsibility for the day-to-day oversight of response action activities.

LATA/Parallax Portsmouth, LLC (LPP) was awarded the first small business prime contract by DOE at Portsmouth and assumed environmental remediation responsibilities on June 27, 2005. The contract runs through September 2009. LPP is also responsible for operation of waste storage and uranium management facilities and decontamination and decommissioning of inactive facilities. LLP removed 14 inactive facilities in 2006 and 2007 and two others are scheduled for removal in 2008, including the X-746 former Shipping & Receiving Building. Uranium Disposition Services (UDS) was contracted to design, construct and operate a DUF6 Conversion Plant. Construction is expected to be completed in July 2008.

In FY 2007, Portsmouth received $225,346,000 from the Environmental Management Program. In FY 2008, the total was $225,026,000. For FY 2009, the projection is $242,561,000. The Portsmouth GDP budget in FY 1998 included $25.3 million, environmental restoration, $24.6 million, waste management, and $32.1 million enrichment facilities programs. At that time, the plant employed 2700 personnel. The Environmental Management and Enrichment Facilities Program was conducted by Lockheed Martin Energy Systems, Inc. for DOE. The Bechtel Jacobs Company assumed responsibility on April 1, 1998, as the management and integration contractor for the Environmental Management Program. The uranium enrichment enterprise is operated by USEC, previously with their contractor, Lockheed Martin Utility Services, Inc.

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Page last modified: 24-07-2011 03:42:48 ZULU