Ohio EPA Comments
US DOE DUF6 Public Meeting
November 28, 2001

Since the late 1980's Ohio EPA has been concerned about the long term management issues with the thousands of depleted uranium hexafluoride (DUF6) cylinders currently in storage at the Portsmouth site. The problems with this aging population of cylinders will only get worse over time and the cost of managing them will continue to increase.

When problems with cylinder management at the Portsmouth site became apparent, Ohio EPA cited DOE in 1990 with violations of Ohio hazardous waste regulations. To resolve the ensuing enforcement case against DOE, Ohio EPA and DOE signed orders in 1998 that set forth how DOE must manage the cylinders at the Portsmouth site. The orders require DOE to regularly inspect, test and maintain the cylinders and cylinder yards, and to clean up DUF6 that might be released in the event of a breached cylinder. The orders also included a contingency plan in the event of an emergency involving DUF6. In addition, the orders required DOE to make good faith efforts to evaluate the potential use or reuse of the DUF6. As part of these good faith efforts, DOE is now evaluating various alternatives to convert the DUF6 into a safer form for long-term storage or disposal.

For the past several years representatives from Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee have been meeting with DOE to address the problems that exist with these cylinders in all three states. In general, we support DOE's preferred alternative of building two conversions plants, one at Portsmouth and one at Paducah. We also agree that the DUF6 cylinders currently stored in Oak Ridge, should be safely transported to Portsmouth for conversion after the conversion plants are built.

Through this NEPA process, we are very interested in hearing from stakeholders and other interested parties about the best alternatives to convert and manage the DUF6 inventory. There are many very important issues to resolve related to the safe conversion, storage of by-products, transportation and disposal options. We look forward to your input into this process. Thank you.

Submitted by Graham E. Mitchell, Ohio EPA, 937-285-6018