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Portsmouth Site

The Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant at Piketon, Ohio, was built from 1952 to 1956. The plant was one of three large gaseous diffusion plants in the United States initially constructed to produce enriched uranium to support the nation’s nuclear weapons program and U.S. Navy, and later enriched uranium used by commercial nuclear reactors. It occupies about 1,200 acres of the 3,777-acre Portsmouth Site.  

Weapons-grade uranium enrichment was later suspended, and after the Cold War, the production facilities were leased by DOE in 1993 to the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC)—now Centrus Energy Corporation—to restructure and transition the government's uranium enrichment operations for nuclear power plants to the private sector. In 2001, USEC ceased gaseous diffusion enrichment operations. The plant was placed in interim Cold Standby for potential restart. At the end of 2010, facilities were placed in Cold Shutdown to prepare for Decontamination and Decommissioning (D&D), which commenced in 2011.

DOE continues to lease a portion of the Portsmouth Site to Centrus Energy Corporation for operation of the American Centrifuge Plant as a Research, Development and Demonstration project for DOE. 

More than 60 years of uranium enrichment and support activities required the use of a number of typical and special industrial chemicals and materials. Plant operations generated hazardous, radioactive, mixed (both hazardous and radioactive), and nonchemical (sanitary) wastes. Past operations also resulted in soil, groundwater, and surface water contamination at several sites located within plant boundaries.

The Environmental Management Program at the Portsmouth Site began in 1989. The same year, DOE signed a U.S. District Court Consent Decree and an Administrative Consent Order with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address the environmental legacy of past operations. Ohio EPA provides day-to-day oversight of cleanup.

DOE’s role at Portsmouth:

  • Deactivation and D&D of the gaseous diffusion plant
  • Environmental restoration
  • Waste management
  • D&D of inactive facilities
  • Owner/landlord for centrifuge plant
  • Storage and conversion of depleted uranium hexafluoride (DUF6)
  • Interim storage/disposition of surplus uranium materials