PADUCAH, KY – Work is ongoing at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PGDP) to raze a 65,000-square-foot facility known as the C-340 Metals Plant, which was used to make uranium metal during the Cold War.
Department of Energy (DOE) cleanup contractor LATA Environmental Services of Kentucky began removing more than 1,500 panels of cement-asbestos siding from the Metals Plant complex Wednesday in anticipation of New Jersey-based LVI Services starting demolition Sept. 19. Demolition work is projected to last through the end of calendar 2012.
“This is an important milestone because the C-340 Metals Plant is the first major uranium processing facility to undergo full-scale demolition at the site,” said Reinhard Knerr, DOE Paducah Site Lead. “This is one of the most contaminated complexes at the site, and safe, compliant, timely removal is a priority.”
Located on the east side of PGDP, the Metals Plant operated from 1956 until the mid-1980s. Besides producing uranium metal, the Metals Plant converted depleted uranium hexafluoride (UF6) into uranium tetrafluoride (UF4), known as green salt. Green salt was used in other manufacturing processes.
Accelerated cleanup under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act allowed for removal of more than 100,000 cubic feet of systems waste, enough to fill roughly 200 dump trucks. The Metals Plant was declared demolition-ready in early August 2011, avoiding $2.5 million in inflationary costs by being cleaned up five years ahead of schedule.
The Metals Plant footprint is about one-third of the size of the average Walmart SuperCenter and has a 120-foot-high section that is about the same height as the 10-story U.S. Bank building in downtown Paducah. Before demolition starts, workers will manually remove all the siding from a single-story portion of the complex.
LVI Services, which will start work just after Labor Day, will demolish the single-story building while siding removal progresses on higher levels of the complex. Higher levels will then be demolished, starting with a four-story section about Nov. 1.
The siding panels are roughly 12 feet long by 3½ feet wide and weigh as much as 170 pounds. Wearing protective equipment, workers are removing the panels by cutting bolts and clips that hold them in place. Heavy equipment lowers the panels to the ground.
Hand-removing the siding is one of several controls specified in a work plan—approved by DOE, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection —to prevent releasing asbestos from the siding during demolition. Other controls include allowing only those directly involved in removal to enter the work zone; monitoring the air in worker breathing zones and on the perimeter of the work zone; applying fixative to the siding; and spraying mist in the demolition area.
All work is being done in accordance with applicable state and federal regulations.