By Frank Lewis
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) have agreed on a plan to demolish the massive, iconic process buildings and other facilities undergoing decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant at Piketon.
The formal Record of Decision (ROD) for the Process Buildings and Complex Facilities D&D Project details DOE’s decision for the D&D of the plant’s three large process buildings (each more than 30 acres under roof) and other facilities and auxiliary systems.
The decision comes on the heels of a waste disposition decision Ohio EPA and DOE recently agreed to that calls for the construction of an on-site waste disposal facility as part of the remedy for more than two million cubic yards of D&D waste. Waste that does not meet the approved acceptance criteria for the onsite facility will be shipped off site for disposal at appropriate licensed federal or commercial disposal facilities.
“These are some of the largest buildings ever constructed. Their size and function during production years make D&D of this plant a complicated endeavor,” William E. Murphie, manager of DOE’s Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office, said. “The Department of Energy thanks the Ohio EPA for its collaborative and thorough review, and the Portsmouth Site Specific Advisory Board and all stakeholders who participated in this multi-year process. These decisions are a major milestone in moving the D&D Project forward in a safe, efficient, and environmentally responsible manner.”
A proposed plan for the facilities’ demolition was issued in November 2014 and a subsequent four-month public comment period and a public meeting were conducted. All of the several hundred comments were reviewed and considered in the ROD’s final language.
DOE evaluated two alternatives on how to conduct the D&D of more than 200 buildings and structures under consideration. Alternative 1 was no action, which provided a basis for comparison, but the risk to human health and the environment made Alternative 1 unacceptable. DOE’s preferred alternative — Alternative 2 — includes the controlled removal of stored waste, materials, hazards, process gas equipment, and process piping. It also includes the demolition of the buildings or structures; characterization and demolition of underground man-made features; treatment as needed to meet transportation and disposal requirements; packaging of generated waste for final disposal and transportation and disposal of the waste.
The plan also provides an opportunity for the installed portions of the site infrastructure, which are deemed valuable to the community for post-cleanup industrialization, to remain.
It allows for recovery of materials from the gaseous diffusion processing equipment for possible recycling and reuse, to the extent it continues to be considered safe, cost-effective, and in the best interests of the project and considers promotion of recycling of building materials as an option for disposal when it can be done safely, compliantly, and in a cost-effective manner.
Reach Frank Lewis at 740-353-3101, ext. 1928, or on Twitter @franklewis.