Fluoride Action Network

Recovery Act Investment Accelerates Cleanup Work at DOE’s Paducah Site

Source: U.S. Department of Engergy (DOE) | July 15th, 2011
Location: United States, Kentucky
Industry type: Nuclear Industry

Paducah, KY – A significant part of the C-410 Feed Plant complex at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Paducah Site has been demolished thanks to ongoing American Recovery and Reinvestment Act work.

Demolition of the eastern third of the building, covering about half an acre, was completed in late June – exactly three months ahead of schedule. Recovery Act workers continue to clean up the rest of the structure to prepare it for demolition.

“That is a significant accomplishment and a credit to the training, expertise, and dedication of the crews involved,” said Rob Seifert, the Department’s Paducah Site Recovery Act Project Director.

Accelerated Feed Plant cleanup is the result of cost savings from the Recovery Act-funded September 2010 demolition of the C-746-A East End Smelter. The Smelter was demolished a year ahead of schedule and $12 million under budget; those savings were applied to speed up work in the Feed Plant.

Once a nine-facility complex spanning nearly 200,000 square feet, the Feed Plant operated from 1957 to 1977 to produce uranium hexafluoride (UF6) and fluorine.

Wearing respirators and protective clothing, Recovery Act crews cut hard-alloy metal piping and remove systems containing hazardous materials such as uranium and hydrogen fluoride.

Despite the difficult working conditions, Feed Plant workers have logged more than 57,000 hours since May 1 without a lost workday case. Crews have removed more than 20,000 cubic feet of waste – 85 percent of the projected total – and shipped the material to an approved disposal facility.

The team’s “can-do spirit” proves the site can be cleaned up safely and economically, said Mike Auble, Decontamination & Decommissioning Projects Manager for LATA Kentucky, the Department’s cleanup contractor. He called the recent demolition a significant turning point for the site.

“I am thankful for and proud of the work crews, support personnel, and management team,” Auble said. “Together they overcame numerous technical, safety, and financial challenges to successfully complete this project.”

The Feed Plant and Smelter are two of the projects funded through nearly $80 million in Recovery Act dollars at Paducah. A third project, preparing the C-340 Metals Plant for demolition, is about 90 percent complete and forecast to be finished by the end of August.

The Metals Plant spanned roughly 65,000 square feet and operated several decades ago to convert depleted uranium hexafluoride (DUF6) into uranium metal and uranium tetrafluoride (UF4).