Historical Context for the Conversion EISs
Important events and decisions that led to development of the depleted UF6 Conversion EISs.
1992: Concerns Raised by Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA)
In October 1992, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) alleging that DUF6 stored at the Portsmouth facility is subject to regulation under State hazardous waste laws applicable to the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant. The NOV stated that OEPA had determined DUF6 to be a solid waste and that DOE had violated Ohio laws and regulations by not evaluating whether such waste was hazardous. DOE disagreed with this assessment, and, in February 1998, DOE and OEPA reached an agreement. This agreement sets aside the issue of whether the DUF6 is subject to Resource Conservation and Recovery Act regulation and institutes a negotiated management plan governing the storage of the Portsmouth DUF6. The agreement also requires DOE to continue its efforts to evaluate potential use or reuse of the material. The agreement expires in 2008.
1994: The Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS)
In 1994, DOE began work on the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Alternative Strategies for the Long-Term Management and Use of Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride (DUF6 PEIS). The DUF6 PEIS was completed in 1999 and identified conversion of DUF6 to another chemical form for use or long-term storage as part of a preferred management alternative. In the corresponding Record of Decision for the Long-Term Management and Use of Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride (ROD) (64 FR 43358, August 10, 1999), DOE decided to promptly convert the DUF6 inventory to depleted uranium oxide, depleted uranium metal, or a combination of both. The ROD further explained that depleted uranium oxide will be used as much as possible, and the remaining depleted uranium oxide will be stored for potential future uses or disposal, as necessary. In addition, according to the ROD, conversion to depleted uranium metal will occur only if uses are available.
1995: The Cylinder Project Management Plan
During the time that DOE was analyzing its long-term strategy for managing the DUF6 inventory, several other events occurred related to DUF6 management. In 1995, the Department began an aggressive program to better manage the DUF6 cylinders, known as the DUF6 Cylinder Project Management Plan. In part, this program responded to the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) Recommendation 95-1, Safety of Cylinders Containing Depleted Uranium. This program included more rigorous and frequent inspections, a multi-year program for painting and refurbishing of cylinders, and construction of concrete-pad cylinder yards. Implementation of the DUF6 Cylinder Project Management Plan has been successful, and, as a result, on December 16, 1999, the DNFSB closed out Recommendation 95-1.
1999: Consent Order between DOE and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation
In February 1999, DOE and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation entered into a consent order which included a requirement for the performance of two environmentally beneficial projects: the implementation of a negotiated management plan governing the storage of the small inventory (relative to other sites) of all UF6 (depleted, low enriched, and natural) cylinders stored at the ETTP site, and the removal of the DUF6 from the ETTP site or the conversion of the material by December 31, 2009.
1998: Public Law (P.L.) 105-204 Signed
In July 1998, the President signed Public Law (PL) 105-204. This law directed the Secretary of Energy to prepare "a plan to ensure that all amounts accrued on the books" of the United States Enrichment Corporation (USEC) for the disposition of DUF6 would be used to commence construction of, not later than January 31, 2004, and to operate, an on-site facility at each of the gaseous diffusion plants at Paducah and Portsmouth, to treat and recycle DUF6 consistent with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). DOE responded to PL 105-204 by issuing the Final Plan for the Conversion of Depleted Uranium Hexafluoride (referred to herein as the "Conversion Plan") in July 1999. The Conversion Plan describes DOE's intent to chemically process the DUF6 to create products that would present both a lower long-term storage hazard and provide a material that would be suitable for use or disposal.
1999: Conversion Plan Initiated with Request for Proposals (RFP)
DOE initiated the Conversion Plan with the announced availability of a draft Request for Proposals (RFP) on July 30, 1999, for a contractor to design, construct, and operate DUF6 conversion facilities at the Paducah and Portsmouth uranium enrichment plant sites. Based on comments received on the draft RFP, DOE revisited some of the assumptions about management of the DUF6 inventory made previously in the PEIS and ROD. For example, as documented in the Oak Ridge National Laboratory study, Assessment of Preferred Depleted Uranium Disposal Forms (ORNL/TM- 2000/161, June 2000), four potential conversion forms (triuranium octaoxide (U308), uranium dioxide (U02), uranium tetrafluoride (UF4), and uranium metal) were evaluated and found to be acceptable for near-surface disposal at low-level radioactive waste disposal sites such as those at DOE's Nevada Test Site and Envirocare of Utah, Inc. Therefore, the RFP was modified to allow for a wide range of potential conversion product forms and process technologies. However, any of the proposed conversion forms must have an assured environmentally acceptable path for final disposition.
2000: Final RFP Issued
On October 31, 2000, DOE issued a final RFP (http://www.oro.doe.gov/duf6disposition/) to procure a contractor to design, construct, and operate DUF6 conversion facilities at the Paducah and Portsmouth plant sites. Any conversion plants that result from this procurement would convert the DUF6 to a more stable chemical form that is suitable for either beneficial use or disposal. The selected contractor would design the conversion plants using the technology it proposes and construct the plants. The selected contractor also would operate the plants for a five-year period, which would include maintaining depleted uranium and product inventories, transporting all uranium hexafluoride storage cylinders in Tennessee to a conversion plant at Portsmouth, as appropriate, and transporting converted product for which there is no use to a disposal site. The selected contractor would also prepare excess material for disposal at an appropriate site.
2001 (May): Advance Notice of Intent for Conversion EIS Issued
DOE received five proposals in response to the DUF6 conversion RFP, and DOE anticipates that a contract will be awarded during the first quarter of fiscal year 2002. Since the site-specific NEPA process will not be completed prior to contract award, the contract shall be contingent on completion of the NEPA process and will be structured such that the NEPA process will be completed in advance of a go/no-go decision. DOE initiated the NEPA review by issuing an Advance Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS for the DUF6 conversion facilities on May 7, 2001 (66 FR 23010).
2002 (August): Public Law 107-206 Signed and Conversion Contract Awarded
In August 2002, the President signed the 2002 Supplemental Appropriations Act for Further Recovery From and Response to Terrorist Attacks on the United States (Public Law No. 107-206). This law stipulated in part that, within 30 days of enactment, DOE must award a contract for the scope of work described in the RFP, including the design, construction, and operation of a DUF6 conversion plant at each of the Department's Paducah, Kentucky and Portsmouth, Ohio sites, and the shipment of UF6 cylinders stored at ETTP to the Portsmouth site for conversion. Accordingly, the DOE awarded a contract to Uranium Disposition Services, LLC (UDS), on August 29, 2002.
2003 (April): Change in NEPA Approach (44 KB)