Milestone reached at Piketon


The Decontamination and Decommissioning (D&D) project at the Piketon reservation took a major step forward recently in the deactivation effort by removing the final component of process gas equipment (PGE) from the cell floor of the X-326 facility.

The X-326 is one of three, 30-plus-acre buildings that were used in the uranium enrichment process when the gaseous diffusion plant was in operation.

The Department of Energy contractor Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth, completed removing the more than 7,000 components on March 21, 2016. The components were part of a complex system containing 2,340 “stages,” each consisting of a compressor, a converter, and a cooler, and miles of interconnecting piping. The converters weighed almost five tons each. Work to carefully remove components of that system was initiated while portions of the system were still operating to reduce uranium “hold-up” material, or residues inside the enrichment cascade.

The undertaking consisted of 300 employees and support staff working 24 hours a day, seven days a week and required specialized training, rigorous radiological controls and strict conduct of operations compliance for safety purposes.

The work involved the typical hazards associated with uranium hexafluoride processing systems and equipment including chemical hazards like hydrofluoric acid and radiological contamination issues, but it also involved significant hoisting and rigging, “hot work” (welding and torch cutting), and work in confined spaces, all while wearing fully encapsulating personnel protective equipment and respiratory protection.

“There have been many challenges, all of which were met, while safely performing this difficult and hazardous work,” DOE Site Lead Joel Bradburne said. “The Fluor-BWXT X-326 Deactivation team has removed the largest sources of contamination and safely shipped these components offsite for disposal. In the process the Portsmouth D&D Project has become one of the largest shippers in the DOE complex for offsite disposal.”

In March, employees of Fluor BWXT (FBP) received good news concerning the future of their jobs, with the announcement that the Department of Energy (DOE) had extended the project 30 additional months at a total cost of $750 million. The manager of the project added to the positive information coming out of Washington in correspondence to employees.

“I am very pleased to announce that DOE has extended the FBP contract an additional 30-months beyond the 5-year base period that ended yesterday. The contract also provides for a second priced option that DOE could exercise at a later date that could extend the contract to March 28, 2021,” Dennis Carr, of Fluor BWXT, said. “The contract structure remains the same as the base period in that it is a Cost Plus Award Fee Contract. The contract extension places much more emphasis on delivering against bi-laterally agreed upon milestones. These milestones are established for each area of scope including deactivation, D&D, waste management, nuclear operation, environmental remediation, utility operations and maintenance services. The contract establishes an opportunity for DOE and FBP to collaboratively focus on achieving these unilaterally agree upon milestones to make best use of our expected funding over the upcoming years.”

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Workers from Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth lower the last converter removed from the cell floor of Building X-326 at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant. from Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth lower the last converter removed from the cell floor of Building X-326 at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

By Frank Lewis

[email protected]

Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.

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