- Fernald Preserve
In May 1951, the Atomic Energy Commission, predecessor to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), broke ground on a new uranium processing facility in a rural area northwest of Cincinnati, Ohio, that would support the nation’s defense program. Throughout the nearly four decades of the Cold War, the Feed Materials Production Center produced high-grade uranium metal products for the nuclear weapons complex. Production operations ceased in 1989 and the site’s mission changed to environmental remediation. The cleanup was one of the largest undertaken in U.S. history and involved the removal of two concrete silos with convert|8900|cuyd|m3 of radium-bearing sludge; one concrete silo holding convert|5100|cuyd|m3 of cold metal oxides; six waste pits containing more than 1 million tons of low-level radioactive waste; convert|6.6|Mcuft|m3 of containerized low-level waste; nearly 175,000 gallons of low-level liquid mixed waste; 31 million pounds of nuclear product; 224 process related and administrative structures; convert|400|acre|km2 of contaminated soil; and a convert|225|acre|km2|sing=on plume of contamination in a sole-source aquifer beneath the site.
The Fernald property has now come full circle. The $4.4 billion cleanup was accomplished with the support and participation of the local community, and federal and state regulators. The convert|1050|acre|km2|sing=on property has been returned to a natural state that features one the largest man-made wetlands in Ohio, large tracts of open water, upland forests, a lengthy riparian corridor and the beginnings of a tall grass prairie. The successful cleanup efforts are reflected in the diverse array of wildlife that now migrates to the site. The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Legacy Management oversees the operation and maintenance of the Fernald Preserve to ensure that cleanup remedies continue to meet regulatory compliance. Employees conduct routine environmental monitoring, perform ecological assessments, and continue the remediation of the underlying aquifer.
As a community asset, the Fernald Preserve will foster wildlife habitat and provide educational opportunities through environmental stewardship.
Fernald Feed Materials Production Center
Fernald Closure Project
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