DOE’s Portsmouth Site Disposes of Decades-Old Waste Stream

PIKETON – Disposition of a 40-plus-year-old legacy waste at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant site was completed thanks to a cooperative effort among the Department of Energy (DOE), contractors, and private industry.

Since 1973, DOE worked to characterize and dispose of these High Enriched Uranium Fluoride Solids (HEUFS). The task was to find an acceptable disposition path for the complex waste stream that resulted from oils entering the uranium enrichment cascade during operations.

DOE and its contractors sent samples to several DOE national laboratories and to Nuclear Fuel Services, Inc. in Tennessee in efforts to develop a method for recovering the uranium or treating and disposing of the material. However, proposed methods were not cost effective and much of the material would still remain without a disposal path.

Recent Portsmouth Site efforts with DOE headquarters resulted in qualification of decontamination and decommissioning contractor Fluor-BWXT’s (FBP) Nuclear Safety and Quality Assurance program, and the Savannah River Packaging Group and Paragon Industries provided the package that allowed FBP to safely ship the material most effectively.

The Portsmouth waste management team completed repackaging of the HEUFS in March this year. All shipping and disposition activities were completed in May.

DOE’s Cid Voth, the waste management project director at Portsmouth, said the accomplishment was made possible by cooperation among a variety of entities with talented professionals.

“This project could only be completed with excellent teamwork among DOE, Wastren-Advantage security, a variety of FBP organizations, and the Savannah River Packaging Group,” Voth said. “There was tremendous effort and dedication to accomplish this task by the people involved.”