PIKE COUNTY, Ohio – The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management (EM) recently completed the demolition of the X-326 uranium process building, marking the most significant cleanup milestone to date at its Portsmouth Site.
Completion of the teardown of the X-326 building, a two-story structure covering 56 acres under roof, fulfills an EM 2022 priority and is a critical achievement in the cleanup and transformation of the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant. EM is cleaning up the site in preparation for community reuse and reindustrialization.
“The completion of this demolition project is a testament to the effort and dedication of the workforce at the Portsmouth Site,” EM Senior Advisor William “Ike” White said. “I am most proud that this work was performed safely with attention paid to the protection of the workers, the community and the environment.”
Structural demolition began less than 13 months ago and was completed three months ahead of schedule. Most importantly, extensive safety practices and environmental monitoring conducted before and during the demolition resulted in zero recordable accidents, ensuring protection of workers, the public and the environment.
“The completed, successful demolition of the X-326 building at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant is a major milestone in the site’s decontamination and decommissioning work, and a testament to the employees in Pike County and the region,” said Rep. Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio.) “This represents a major step forward in efforts to provide a safe, clean site for future reindustrialization. We owe the great people who worked at this site a debt of gratitude for the work they did to help end the Cold War and the contributions they continue to make. I will continue to support the dedicated workforce in Pike County as they work to ensure that this cleanup mission is a success.”
The half-mile-long behemoth is the first of three massive process buildings to be demolished at Portsmouth. EM and contractor Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth spent more than 10 years planning and preparing the X-326 building for demolition by removing more than 7,000 process components and performing approximately 1 million non-destructive assay measurements in the building that once enriched uranium to its highest assay for national defense. Non-destructive assay entailed measuring the quantities of uranium deposits that remained from enrichment operations in dozens of miles of process pipes.
“Demolition of the X-326 building is the result of a consistent desire to achieve this important step forward towards site cleanup,” said Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office Manager Joel Bradburne. “This transformational project sets the stage for rechanneling a new reuse for the site.”
Construction of the X-326 building began in 1952 and was completed in 1956. It was used to enrich uranium for use in the U.S. nuclear defense program.
EM will continue to remove approximately 135,000 cubic yards of X-326 demolition debris that will be size-reduced to meet regulator-approved waste acceptance criteria (WAC) before permanent placement in the Portsmouth On-Site Waste Disposal Facility. Any waste that does not meet the WAC will be shipped offsite to a licensed disposal facility. Environmental monitoring will continue during the removal and disposal of the demolition waste.
The site will celebrate the X-326 process building demolition in the fall in conjunction with the 70th anniversary of the site and the projected turnover of an additional 220 acres acreage to the community for reuse.