US DOE awards contract for depleted uranium conversion

4 October 2016

UK-based design, engineering and project management consultancy Atkins has been selected by the US Department of Energy (DOE), along with joint venture partners Westinghouse and Fluor, to operate the depleted uranium hexafluoride (DUF6) conversion facilities at DOE’s Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah, Kentucky, and the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon, Ohio.

The contract to the Mid-America Conversion Services  (MCS) joint venture is valued at $318m over five-years of performance beginning this year. The project includes the operation of DUF6 conversion facilities for the purpose of processing DOE’s inventory of stored DUF6, a coproduct of the uranium enrichment process. The facilities convert DUF6 to depleted uranium oxide for possible future reuse, storage or disposal. A coproduct of the conversion process is hydrofluoric acid (HF), which can be reused in industrial processes.

MCS is a fully integrated team led by Atkins which will operate the two DUF6 conversion facilities to continue the conversion of the DOE’s inventory of approximately 765,000t of depleted uranium hexafluoride to depleted uranium oxide. The team of leading nuclear industry experts will also broker the sale of the aqueous hydrofluoric acid (AqHF) product and provide surveillance and maintenance services for the DUF6 cylinder inventory.

Atkins has been in nuclear clean-up since the late 1980s working with UK clients such as Sellafield Ltd, Magnox Ltd, Research Sites Restoration Limited (RSRL) the UK Atomic Energy Authority (UKAEA) and is currently carrying out work at the Fukushima Daiichi NPP in Japan.

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