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DOE Seeks Industry Input on Nickel Disposition Strategy

March 23, 2012 - 12:00pm


WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Energy Department’s prime contractor, Fluor-B&W Portsmouth (FBP), managing the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (GDP), issued a request for Expressions of Interest (EOI) seeking industry input to support the development of an acquisition strategy for potential disposition of DOE nickel.

The EOI requests technical, financial, and product market information to review the feasibility of technologies capable of decontaminating the nickel to a level indistinguishable from what is commercially available, such that it could be safely recycled and reused. The EOI scope is for 6,400 tons of nickel to be recovered from the uranium enrichment process conducted at the Department’s Portsmouth GDP in Piketon, Ohio. The nickel inventories are contaminated with uranium and trace quantities of technetium, neptunium and plutonium.

If this review identifies viable technologies and the overall strategy is determined to be financially viable, DOE may approve the site contractor to pursue decontamination of the nickel and offer it for sale or reuse. However, no DOE nickel will be released into the market unless and until a rigorous evaluation has been completed on potential environmental and public health and safety impacts associated with reuse and/or recycling. DOE will evaluate the potential environmental impacts of the technologies and the proposed strategy and will solicit public input through an appropriate National Environmental Policy Act evaluation. The process is expected to take several years before a final decision can be made regarding the nickel.

Recycling of this valuable resource could be a good alternative to disposal. In addition, the reuse of nickel avoids the costs of disposal, long-term storage, and safeguards and could potentially provide ancillary benefits to DOE missions and objectives.

Last July, the Department cancelled a sales agreement for Oak Ridge and Paducah nickel. DOE concluded at the time that a re-evaluation of requirements, policies, and business practices was needed to determine whether more cost-effective strategies were feasible to make better use of this valuable government asset. The EOI is the first step in that process.

Read more about the EOI here.