Mid-American Conversion Services, a joint venture melding the talents of Westinghouse Electric, Atkins and Fluor, has been given the green light to take over operations of the U.S. Department of Energy's depleted uranium hexafluoride conversion facilities in Kentucky and Ohio.
At the end of September 2016, The DOE awarded the group, known as Mid-American Conversion Services, a $318 million contract to manage the conversion facilities with a contract that included managing cylinder storage at the DOE's DUF6 processing sites in Paducah, Kentucky and Piketon, Ohio at a facility called the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
According to the World Nuclear Association, Mid-American Conversion Services will also provide maintenance services for equipment at the plants, as well as “disposal of end products,” and security at the cylinder storage yards.
The plants have had dual purposes, first used for enriching uranium for nuclear weapons and later for commercial nuclear power plants. DUF6, is a “co-product of uranium enrichment process … produced at the Paducah and Portsmouth Sites, as well as the gaseous diffusion plant in Oak Ridge, TN,” according to a government website.
The conversion program processes the DUF6 in storage into depleted uranium oxide, which is considered more stable, allowing for storage or reuse. The co-product in the conversion process is hydrofluoric acid, which is reused industrially, according to the DOE.
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