US DOE awards depleted uranium contract

30 September 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) yesterday awarded Mid-America Conversion Services, a joint venture of Atkins, Fluor and Westinghouse, a $318 million five-year contract to operate facilities to convert depleted uranium hexafluoride (DUF6) at its plants at Paducah, Kentucky and Portsmouth, Ohio.

Under the contract, the Atkins-led joint venture will operate the facilities to convert the DOE's inventory of about 765,000 tonnes of DUF6, a produced alongside enriched uranium at the DOE's former gaseous diffusion uranium enrichment operations at the sites, to depleted uranium oxide for possible future re-use, storage or disposal. Aqueous hydrofluoric acid, which can be re-used in industrial processes, is a co-product of the conversion of DUF6.

Mid-America Conversion Services was selected from five proposals received by DOE in response to its contract solicitation. The joint venture will also be responsible for selling the aqueous hydrofluoric acid produced in the operation as well as for reusing or transporting and disposing of end-products and wastes, and providing surveillance and maintenance services for the DUF6 cylinder inventory.

Alan Parker, president and project manager of Atkins' Energy Americas business, said the nuclear services company was looking forward to bringing its extensive experience in nuclear operations and high-level waste management to the facilities. "We've been involved at the Portsmouth and Paducah sites for over ten years and managed construction of the DUF6 plants. We're pleased to resume our involvement in these important projects," he said.

Westinghouse said the contract signalled its intent to re-enter the government services marketplace. CEO José Emeterio Gutiérrez said: "This DOE contract award is the start of the next chapter in Westinghouse's long history of managing nationally strategic resources. We are excited to return to this important arena. Westinghouse has much to offer to government customers, and we look forward to creating real value for them through our technologies and our constant focus on safety, quality and excellence in all operations."

Continuity assured

Alongside the announcement of the contract, the DOE's Office of Environmental Management announced that it was extending its existing contract with BWXT Conversion Services (BWCS) for operations of the Portsmouth and Paducah DUF6 conversion facilities for a period of up to four months.

Previously extended for nine months to accommodate the competitive procurement process for the new DUF6 operations contract, BWCS's contract period had been due to expire today. DOE said the new extension, worth about $35.8 million, will accommodate the transition to the new contract without interrupting ongoing services.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News