The U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) Paducah Site recently achieved a significant reduction in waste with the offsite shipment of 22 "cold traps" formerly used in the uranium-enrichment process. The shipment removed approximately 42 percent of the former gaseous diffusion plant's enriched uranium inventory.
Cold traps were long, cylindrical heat exchangers that ranged in size and weighed as much as 15,200 pounds. They were used in the C-410 Feed Plant to convert uranium hexafluoride (UF6) gas to a solid. The UF6 gas was later liquefied, transferred to cylinders, and ultimately fed into a system of process gas equipment where enrichment occurred.
“The shipment of the cold traps accounts for a large reduction in the enriched uranium inventory at the Paducah Site,” said Jennifer Woodard, Paducah Site Lead for DOE’s Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office.
Four Rivers Nuclear Partnership LLC (FRNP), the Deactivation and Remediation (D&R) contractor for the Paducah Site, worked with Perma-Fix Environmental Services to ship the cold traps off-site for processing, treatment and disposal. The cold traps were packaged and shipped intact, which provided additional safeguards to workers by reducing overall risk.