Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant

The Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant is a facility located in Scioto Township, Pike County, Ohio, just south of Piketon, Ohio that previously produced enriched uranium, including weapons-grade uranium, for the United States Atomic Energy program and U.S. nuclear weapons program. The plant is in shutdown status and is in preparation for decontamination and decommissioning (D&D), with some facilities overseen by the United States Enrichment Corporation, a subsidiary of USEC Incorporated, a publicly traded corporation (NYSE: USU). The D&D work on the older facilities to prepare the site for future use is expected to continue through 2024 and is being conducted by Fluor-B&W Portsmouth LLC.

Plant History

  • The Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (PORTS) was constructed from 1952-1956 as the last of three plants built to enrich uranium for the United States’ nuclear defense program and in later years for use in commercial nuclear reactors.
  • The PORTS site resides on 3,714 acres of federal land in Piketon, Ohio and has approximately 190 buildings, support facilities, storage areas, waste management units, and numerous utilities and infrastructure assets.
  • As a result of the end of the “Cold War,” in 1991 highly enriched uranium production was suspended in the United States.
  • In 1993, DOE leased the production facilities to the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) which was created under the Congressional Energy Policy Act of 1992.
  • USEC became a privatized company in 1998 through an Initial Public Offering and operated as a private corporation to produce low enriched uranium for use in commercial nuclear power plants until May 2001 at which time USEC ceased these operations at the PORTS site.
  • In August 2001, DOE signed a contract with USEC to put the plant in “Cold Standby Status” and USEC maintained the facility in this status until October 2006.
  • In October 2006, it was determined the plant would go into “Cold Shutdown Status” in order to prepare for the Decontamination and Decommissioning (D & D) of the plant.
  • The current D & D preparation scope of work includes:
  • Characterization of underlying soil
  • Final grading and ground cover of impacted areas
  • Identification and segregation of surplus equipment for potential reuse/recycle.
  • Disposition of all waste.

For more information on PORTS site history, visit DOE’s PORTS Virtual Museum, here: