Last week, we took a closer look at the dismantling of the final W62 warhead, a major milestone in the nation’s efforts to reduce the amount of nuclear weapons in its stockpile. But after five decades of nuclear weapons production, the Cold War didn’t just create a stockpile -- it left 1.5 million cubic meters of solid waste and 88 million gallons of liquid waste. This waste requires treatment and permanent safe storage in gaseous diffusion plants, like the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (GDP) in south-central Ohio.
This week, the Department of Energy accelerated Portsmouth GDP cleanup efforts by selecting Fluor-B&W Portsmouth LLC as a contractor for the next phase of the project: decontaminating and decommissioning. Work will include decontaminating and demolishing the three massive process facilities at the site -- known as X-333, X-330 and X-326 --along with cleaning up and remediating contaminated soils and groundwater. The contract is valued at $2 billion over 10 years (that includes a five-year contract plus a potential five-year extension) with more than 30 percent of the total value expected to support work by small businesses.
Department of Energy Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management Inés Triay explained why this is such a crucial step, “This new contract will allow the Department of Energy to continue accelerating our cleanup efforts in southern Ohio, adding good jobs to the local workforce while reducing the environmental risks to the American people. This project is an important part of our nationwide cleanup of the nuclear sites from the Cold War.”
Portsmouth GDP is a 3,778-acre federal reservation that was part of the nation’s nuclear weapons complex and enriched uranium from 1954 until 2001. While limited cleanup activities have been underway since the 1990s, this is the first contract at Portsmouth GDP that includes decontamination and decommissioning of three massive uranium enrichment process buildings -- each with a “footprint” of over 30 acres and containing thousands of “stages” of uranium enrichment equipment. These cleanup efforts are part of the largest nuclear environmental cleanup project in the world, involving decontamination of soil and groundwater, and the decontamination and demolition of thousands of buildings and structures at GDP sites.