PADUCAH, KY (KFVS) - The U.S. Department of Energy recently finished demolition of the last of 32 inactive facilities to be removed as part of a cleanup scope at the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
This cleanup project began before commercial uranium enrichment operations ended at the plant and the plant facilities were returned to DOE.
"Since 2004, we have safely removed 4,700 tons of waste related to the C-410/C-420 buildings complex, and importantly, this work has been accomplished while maintaining our focus on safety," said Jennifer Woodard, the Paducah site lead for DOE's Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office.
Built in 1956, the 116,000-square-foot Feed Plant at Paducah was used to produce uranium hexafluoride for uranium enrichment during the Cold War. Located in the center of the gaseous diffusion plant, the Feed Plant operated until 1977, when the GDP began receiving UF6 from other sources such as Honeywell in Metropolis, Ill.
Besides its role in the enrichment process, the Feed Plant included offices and a machine shop. Its footprint was originally almost 5 acres, roughly equivalent to four football fields, and its tallest building stood at 85 feet.
The DOE said demolition included removal of 2,600 panels of cement asbestos siding and 9,000 feet of pipe.
The siding panels are roughly 12 feet long by 3.5 feet wide and weigh as much as 175 pounds each.
Wearing protective equipment, workers manually removed the panels. Heavy equipment was used to lower the panels to the ground. Once removed, the remainder of the building was demolished to slab. The amount of waste generated from decontamination and demolition would be enough to cover one 15-foot deep football field.
The return of the GDP at Paducah from the United States Enrichment Corporation was accepted by DOE in October 2014 and those facilities are currently undergoing deactivation in preparation for future decontamination and decommissioning.