NNSA Plans to Take Some Portsmouth DUF6 for Weapons Programs

Source: Exchange Monitor | Dan Leone | January 30, 2020

The National Nuclear Security Administration has decided to use a cleanup facility in Ohio to help produce high-purity depleted uranium metal for nuclear weapons programs.

The semiautonomous Department of Energy weapons agency will do that by installing a fourth process line at the depleted uranium hexafluoride conversion facility at the Portsmouth Site near Piketon, Ohio, according to an amended record of decision published last week in the Federal Register.

The NNSA will fund the work through the DOE Environmental Management Office’s depleted uranium hexafluoride conversion contract with Mid-America Conversion Services: the Atkins-led team that also includes Fluor and Westinghouse, an NNSA spokesperson said by email Thursday. The line is slated to be up and running by Sept. 30, 2022, the spokesperson said.

The work would be done by 2036, along with the Environmental Management office’s depleted uranium hexafluoride conversion mission at Portsmouth, the NNSA spokesperson said.

The planned process line will convert depleted uranium hexafluoride into depleted uranium tetrafluoride (DUF4) using “utility equipment and materials identical to those currently in operation” at the Environmental Management office’s depleted uranium hexafluoride processing plants at Portsmouth and Paducah, Ky.

The NNSA will then contract a commercial vendor to process the DUF4, which ultimately will be turned into high-purity depleted uranium metal, the amended record of decision says.

Consolidated Nuclear Security, the prime contractor for the NNSA uranium hub at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., will subcontract out the DUF4 conversion work, the NNSA spokesperson said. The company is currently evaluating “[o]ptions for commercial vendors.”

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