The Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant Fact Sheet

The mission of NCSL’s Nuclear Legislative Workgroup (NLWG) is to provide legislative members with the opportunity to learn about the cleanup of federal nuclear weapons production and research facilities, the transportation and storage of radioactive wastes, and nuclear energy issues that affect our nation and states. This fact sheet is part of this effort.

Overview

The Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PORTS) in south-central Ohio was first used to produce enriched uranium for national defense programs. Located south of Piketon, on 3,714 acres leased to the U.S. Enrichment Corporation, the site continued to produce enriched uranium to fuel commercial nuclear power plants until operations ceased in 2001. Since then, PORTS has been de-leased back to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and environmental cleanup has begun. A new uranium enrichment facility is being built on the site by the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC).  The DOE’s Office of Environmental Management and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversee cleanup activities at the site.

State: Ohio
Size: 3,714 acres
Original Purpose: Enriched Uranium
Estimated Cleanup Completion: 2024

Scale of the Contamination

PORTS has approximately 2.2 million cubic yards of hazardous wastes and 415 contaminated facilities and structures. Above ground, 1.5 million cubic meters of solid waste and 88 million gallons of liquid waste exist on-site. Underground, five trichloroethylene contaminated plumes have been identified causing contamination of on-site groundwater and surface water. About 21,000 depleted uranium hexafluoride cylinders and 160 solid waste management units existed on-site.

DOE’s Environmental Management Activities

DOE Office of Environmental Management’s mission at PORTS is to restore the land value for future beneficial use. DOE is accomplishing this through environmental remediation, decontamination and decommissioning, and waste management.

  • Soil and Groundwater Remediation.  The five groundwater plumes identified on-site are currently receiving remedial pump-and-treat actions and oxidant injections. Subsurface barrier walls and extraction wells have been installed to mitigate plume migration.
  • Decontamination & Decommissioning.  DOE is currently removing inactive facilities’ contents and equipment and then demolishing the facilities. Wastes from decontamination and decommissioning are either disposed, recycled, or reused. An estimated 110,000 cubic yards of wastes will be recycled.
  • Waste Management.  DOE manages the safe disposal of wastes generated from the cleanup and the uranium enrichment plant operations. DOE continues to consider disposal alternatives that will increase the efficiency and success of waste disposition. Disposal alternatives include on-site, off-site, and no action.

Other Activities

DUF6
The DOE has constructed Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride Conversion Facilities at both PORTS and the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Ohio. These facilities convert depleted uranium hexafluoride, such as power plant waste, into the more stable form of uranium oxide powder. This conversion will allow the uranium to be disposed of and will produce hydrofluoric acid that has commercial industrial value. As of 2012, both conversion facilities are operational, and will begin full steady operations in fall 2013.
 
American Centrifuge Plant 
The United States Enrichment Corporation’s American Centrifuge Plant is a new facility being constructed at PORTS. Operating at a higher capacity and efficiency, the new plant will be one of the most advanced uranium enrichment plants in the world. The new facility will lower power costs while providing economic advantages, energy security, and national security. Construction of the American Centrifuge Plant began in May 2007 and the final milestone is set for December 2013.

Timeline for Cleanup Completion
Cleanup of PORTS is expected to continue until 2024. The Ohio EPA, U.S. EPA, and the DOE released the final work plan for demolition and remediation of the site in 2010. DOE cleanup responsibilities at PORTS began in 1989.

Timeline for Cleanup Completion

Cleanup of PORTS is expected to continue until 2024. The Ohio EPA, U.S. EPA, and the DOE released the final work plan for demolition and remediation of the site in 2010. DOE cleanup responsibilities at PORTS began in 1989.