The Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant, located in Piketon,
Ohio, began operations in 1954 as part of a U.S. government
expansion program for the production of highly enriched uranium to
fuel military reactors and nuclear weapons production.
The primary mode of enrichment was the gaseous diffusion of uranium
hexaflouride to separate the lighter fissile isotope, U-235, from
the heavier non-fissile isotope, U-238.
During it’s nearly 60 years of operations, the cleaning,
maintenance, and change out of process equipment at the site
generated spent solvents and other contaminants that were disposed
of in onsite landfills and surface storage buildings. To date,
contamination has been found in various locations on site including
the process buildings, the former cooling towers, landfills, waste
water ponds, and other buildings. There are also groundwater plumes
from the landfills.