The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and contractor Fluor-B&W Portsmouth recently safely managed the recycling of millions of pounds of metal from the demolition of a de-energized electrical switchyard that served the former gaseous diffusion plant at the Portsmouth site near Piketon. The effort diverted more than 4 million tons of steel, aluminum and copper from landfills and avoided costs of $7 million.
“This is the latest success in a long line of recycling efforts to reduce the environmental footprint from the Portsmouth site,” said Dr. Vince Adams, DOE Portsmouth Site Director. “Reduce, Reuse and Recycle are the three R’s of resource use that we factor into the planning process of all of our projects.”
Much of the recyclable metals came from 10 very large and extremely heavy synchronous condensers. The units weighed as much as 200 tons each and were made of steel, aluminum and copper. During plant operation they were used to regulate power coming into and going out of the X-533 Switchyard which provided electricity to the X-333 Process Building, one of the huge buildings housing the uranium enrichment processing system called the cascade. The condensers were dismantled piece by piece and the metals cleared for release to be recycled.
“The condenser recycling campaign is the latest example of how we maintain our community focus while delivering the site cleanup mission,” Dr. Adams said. “DOE and Fluor-B&W are working together using efforts like this for the benefit of the region.”
The units were moved individually over several weeks in late 2012 from the Site to a nearby staging area where an Ohio-based recycling company accepted the materials.
Fluor-B&W Portsmouth was awarded a contract by DOE in 2010 to oversee the safe cleanup of the former gaseous diffusion plant, including the anticipated removal of more than 400 buildings and systems from the Cold War era.