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Steam Plant Replaces Outdated Coal-Fired System

September 1, 2012 - 12:00pm

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A new natural gas-fired steam plant will replace an older coal-fired steam plant shown here. The new plant has the capacity to heat buildings at the Portsmouth site much more efficiently than the old coal-fired steam plant.

A new natural gas-fired steam plant will replace an older coal-fired steam plant shown here. The new plant has the capacity to heat buildings at the Portsmouth site much more efficiently than the old coal-fired steam plant.

PIKETON, Ohio – As the Portsmouth site begins to clean up its former uranium enrichment facilities, work is under way to decontaminate and decommission (D&D) the antiquated coal-fired steam plant there.

Two steam boilers were recently installed as part of a new natural gas-fired steam plant. The new natural gas based boilers are more efficient and produce less pollution than the old coal-fired system, which served the site for nearly 60 years. In addition, the cost savings from the natural gas system could be more than $2 million in the first year of operations.

“The new natural gas steam plant will reduce greenhouse emissions and provide ongoing steam to support the anticipated decontamination and decommissioning project at the former uranium enrichment facilities,” DOE Site Director Dr. Vincent Adams said. “By October, the new boilers will be providing heat for all Fluor-B&W Portsmouth facilities.”

The DOE is preparing for the anticipated D&D of more than 400 buildings and systems used in the former gaseous diffusion plant following their role enriching uranium for a half century for the nation’s defense and the nuclear power industry.

The steam plant was designed with a capacity to meet the site’s heating needs now and in the future. The old plant has three coal-fired boilers that were manufactured in 1953 and designed to produce more than four times the needed steam to heat the plant’s facilities. Due to its age, escalating maintenance costs, reliability issues — in addition to the pending enactment of more stringent environmental regulations — the coal-fired plant would not continue to efficiently meet site demands. It will be removed next year after the natural gas-fired plant is operational.

The DOE prime contractor for cleanup work at Portsmouth is Fluor-B&W Portsmouth. Crews from Geiger Brothers Construction, a local sub-contracted firm, and Fluor-B&W Portsmouth project management prepared for installation of the steam boilers by putting infrastructure in place and rerouting steam lines to support the new system. Installation of the boilers was completed in early September and testing and startup of the facility was scheduled to follow. Typically, steam boilers arrive with the burners already attached. In this case, the burners were installed onsite, which saved up to three weeks of assembly time.

“An integrated project team including Department of Energy personnel and local firms worked together to make this project a success,” Adams said. “The successful conclusion of this project assures that we are implementing cleaner, more efficient energy options as we prepare to move forward with cleanup activities here at the site.”

The Portsmouth site includes the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, which provided uranium enrichment services for the Department of Defense and the nuclear power industry for more than 50 years. The plant moved to cold shutdown status in 2004 and DOE is working with contractors to prepare a plan for decontamination and decommissioning of the former enrichment facilities.

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