Depleted UF6 Conversion
DOE is planning to build two depleted UF6 conversion facilities, and site-specific environmental impact statements (EISs) to evaluate project alternatives.
The Final Plan for Conversion and the Programmatic EIS
The eventual disposition of depleted UF6 remains the subject of considerable interest within the U.S. Congress, and among concerned citizens and other stakeholders. Congress stated its intentions in Public Law (P. L.) 105-204, signed by the President in July 1998. P. L. 105-204 required DOE to develop a plan to build two depleted UF6 conversion facilities, one each at Portsmouth, Ohio, and Paducah, Kentucky.
DOE submitted the required plan, Final Plan for the Conversion of Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride, to Congress in July 1999. This document provided a discussion of DOE's technical approach and schedule to implement this project. Although much of the information provided in this report is still valid, a few aspects of this plan have changed since its publication.
- Responsibility for the project was transferred from DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology (NE) to the Office of Environmental Management (EM). The Energy and Water Development Appropriation for FY 2001, Public Law 106-377, transferred funding for uranium program activities to a new account, Uranium Facilities Maintenance and Remediation (UFM&R), which is managed by EM.
- Several details associated with the procurement of the two facilities have been revised as the procurement strategy and solicitation have evolved. In particular, the schedule milestones originally provided in the July 1999 Plan have been revised to reflect a construction start date of January 31, 2004.
In addition, DOE has prepared a Programmatic EIS to evaluate the long-term management and use of depleted UF6. The Record of Decision was issued in August 1999 specifying that DOE would "take necessary steps to promptly convert the depleted UF6 inventory."
The Request for Proposals (RFP)
On October 31, 2000, DOE issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) (http://www.oro.doe.gov/duf6disposition/) to procure a contractor to design, construct and operate depleted UF6 conversion facilities. The objective of the depleted UF6 conversion project is to chemically process the Department's inventory of Depleted UF6 now located at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant, the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, and the ETTP to some other stable chemical form acceptable for transportation, beneficial use/reuse, and/or disposal. Conversion facilities will be constructed at Paducah and Portsmouth. In addition, the selected Contractor will also assume cylinder surveillance and maintenance (S&M) of the DOE inventory of depleted UF6, low-enrichment uranium (LEU) hexafluoride, natural assay UF6, and empty and heel cylinders. These S&M activities will include the transfer of cylinders located at ETTP to the Portsmouth site for conversion. Finally, the selected Contractor will also be responsible for transportation and disposition of conversion products, all waste forms, and empty and heel cylinders. It is currently estimated that it will take up to 25 years of conversion plant operation to convert DOE's entire inventory.
Consideration of Environmental factors in Contractor Selection
Environmental factors were considered in the selection of a contractor for the conversion services through the procurement process, including preparation of an environmental critique and synopsis. The environmental critique evaluated the environmental data and information submitted by each offeror and was subject to the confidentiality requirements of the procurement process. A publicly available environmental synopsis, based on the environmental critique, was prepared to document the consideration given to environmental factors in the contractor selection process, and then in determining reasonable alternatives. The environmental synopsis was filed with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and was incorporated into the site-specific environmental impact statements as an appendix.
The Site-specific EIS Analyses
The site-specific EIS analyses were conducted to evaluate conversion project alternatives pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). These EISs represent the second level of a tiered environmental assessment process being used to evaluate and implement the depleted UF6 Management Program. The EISs assess the potential environmental impacts of constructing, operating, maintaining, and decontaminating and decommissioning depleted UF6 conversion facilities at the Portsmouth and Paducah sites.
For more information on the site-specific EISs, see Depleted UF6 Conversion Facility EISs