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Cleanup agreement reached at former gaseous diffusion plant in Piketon

PIKETON — Ohio EPA and the United States Department of Energy (DOE) have reached mutual agreement about how to address the future decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) at the former DOE Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant (GDP) located in Piketon (Pike County). D&D refers to a variety of activities, such as demolishing structures, dismantling building contents and foundations and deactivating equipment.

Production of enriched uranium ceased at the facility in 2001. The D&D agreement addresses this and other hazardous and industrial wastes, substances and pollutants (e.g., solvents, metals, PCBs, asbestos) at a subset of the entire facility, namely the GDP-related structures and equipment located on DOE’s property.

The agreement provides for Ohio EPA’s oversight of the D&D and will govern DOE’s performance of the D&D activities at the site under the terms of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) of 1980, better known as Superfund.

Ohio EPA will provide input and oversee how the D&D work will be accomplished at the plant, how waste and demolition debris will be managed and how potential environmental releases will be prevented.

Additionally, Ohio EPA will maintain its authority under the existing permits, authorizations and orders to which the facility is already subject, including the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) consent decree and permit.

The existing consent decree, signed in 1989 by Ohio EPA and DOE, governs the continuing cleanup of ground water, soils, sediments, surface water, air and waste management units (e.g., unpermitted landfills, lagoons, etc.) at the facility. 

“This clean up at the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion complex is setting the stage for long-term site redevelopment and economic enhancement for the region,” said Governor Ted Strickland.  “What’s more, this multi-billion dollar investment will bring with it many jobs over the coming decade.”

“Ohio EPA is dedicated to cleaning up contaminated sites in Ohio, making them safe again and returning them to productive use,” said Ohio EPA Director Chris Korleski.

“Our Agency has been eagerly anticipating this cleanup at the former Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant for many years and actively negotiating with DOE to define a mutually agreeable order so we can move the cleanup process forward. The agreement we’ve reached is a positive step forward for the site and the state.”

 “This is an example of a federal and state partnership that will accelerate cleanup work while driving critical economic development in Southern Ohio,” said Senator Sherrod Brown. “This represents a renewed federal commitment to Piketon and the surrounding region. These federal funds will go a long way toward ensuring clean water, clean air, and clean land while also creating jobs.”

The director’s orders require DOE to:

Develop a remedial investigation/feasibility study (RI/FS) and remedial design/remedial action (RD/RA) for process buildings and complex structures at the former GDP;

Develop an engineering evaluation/cost analysis (EE/CA) and removal actions for support structures and other buildings no longer in use at the former GDP;

Evaluate site-wide waste and demolition debris disposition alternatives, including secure on- and off-site options for managing demolition waste using the RI/FS and RD/RA process;

Establish and implement a community relations plan to address how DOE will coordinate its activities under the director’s orders with the existing community advisory board and other local stakeholders and the public; and

Conduct public meetings on any proposed plan and allow the public the opportunity to review and comment on proposed plans and EE/CAs, including waste disposition.

The RI is designed to define the type and extent of contamination in the buildings and structures; define risks to human health and the environment; and establish criteria for cleanup.

The FS evaluates the potential cleanup alternatives and their applicability and effectiveness, based on data collected during the RI. The RD/RA refers to the actual design and implementation of the remedies, including D&D and waste disposition.

The director’s orders, the 1989 consent decree and related documents are available for review at Ohio EPA’s Southeast District Office, 2195 Front Street, Logan, by first calling or e-mailing project coordinator Maria Galanti at (740) 380-5289 or maria.galanti@epa.state.oh.us to schedule an appointment.

Issuance of these orders can be appealed to the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC).

Appeals often must be filed within 30 days of issuing the final action; therefore, Ohio EPA recommends that anyone wishing to file an appeal contact ERAC at (614) 466-8950 or www.erac.ohio.gov for more information.