The Paducah Sun
The Paducah Sun
Paducah, Kentucky
Friday, March 22, 2002

PACRO enables fluorine cells' cleanup
A California company seeks to save $2.5 million in federal cleanup costs at the Paducah uranium enrichment plant.

By Joe Walker

Seventy discarded fluorine cells are expected to be removed from the Paducah uranium enrichment plant by September if a California firm gets the job in concert with a local economic development group.

The Paducah Area Community Reuse Organization and Los Angeles-based ToxCo will bid on the work, estimated to save $2.5 million in federal cleanup costs. PACRO executive committee members were told Wednesday that ToxCo's target removal date of June has been moved back three months to allow ample time for worker training.

"It appears to be well on its way," PACRO Director John Anderson said of the project.

Last month, the committee signed a deal to sell $75,000 in brokerage services to help ToxCo remove the cells from the plant for sale or use elsewhere. Anderson said Wednesday that 13 breached cells in safe containers will be shipped first, followed by 57 cells that are not breached.

The cells were used many years ago in the process of fluorinating uranium to be enriched for use in nuclear fuel.

ToxCo has been negotiating with the reuse group for months and if selected by the Department of Energy, will buy the cells from DOE for a price taking into account ToxCo’s considerable cleanup expense. Although PACRO wanted the firm to build a job-creating fluorine conversion plant here, ToxCo said too few of the cells were useful to justify the extensive cost.

ToxCo plans to decontaminate the cells at a company facility in Tennessee before going to Ozark Fluorine Specialties, a ToxCo subsidiary in Tulsa, Okla.

Anderson said PACRO officials continue talking with the Energy Department about partially lifting a ban on the sale of radioactive scrap metal at all DOE plants because of safety concerns. The change would help the group negotiate with a Canadian firm, Chemical Vapor Deposition Manufacturing, about recycling some of the plant’s tons of contaminated nickel.