Portsmouth Regulatory Approach

The overall environmental cleanup strategy at Portsmouth is based on taking near-term actions to control or eliminate ongoing sources of contamination along with continued investigations of other potential sources. DOE works with regulators to further define project sequencing while optimizing resources and utilizing a risk-based approach to ensure timely environmental cleanup and minimize workforce impacts.


Environmental remediation, or the cleanup of soil, groundwater and other environmental media contaminated by operations at the Portsmouth Site, is conducted in accordance with the Consent Decree with the State of Ohio, issued on August 29, 1989. Ohio EPA oversees environmental remediation activities at the Portsmouth Site under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Corrective Action Program.

The Ohio Consent Decree addresses the investigation and cleanup of hazardous waste releases to environmental media pursuant to RCRA and state hazardous waste laws. The agreement defines roles and responsibilities and requires DOE to investigate the Portsmouth Site for potential environmental impacts of past operations that resulted in releases or spills of hazardous material and provide groundwater and soil remediation plans as required.

Other agreements and permits have also been negotiated for the Portsmouth Site to ensure compliance with state and federal laws and regulations (e.g., Toxic Substances Control Act, Clean Water Act, etc.).

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Decontamination and Decommissioning (D&D) of the Portsmouth Site is proceeding in accordance with the April 13, 2010, Director’s Final Findings and Orders for Removal Action and Remedial Investigation and Feasibility Study and Remedial Design and Remedial Action agreement (including July 16, 2012 Modification), also referred to as the “D&D DFF&O,” along with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

The D&D DFF&O addresses the investigation and cleanup of the gaseous diffusion process buildings and facilities, as well as evaluation of site-wide waste disposition and establishes the agreed upon regulatory framework for conducting those activities under CERCLA.

In 2015, the Ohio EPA and DOE agreed to a plan to demolish the massive, iconic process buildings and other facilities undergoing D&D at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant. The formal Record of Decision (ROD) for the Process Buildings and Complex Facilities D&D Project details DOE’s decision for the D&D of the plant’s three large process buildings (each more than 30 acres under roof) and other facilities and auxiliary systems.

The decision comes following the Portsmouth Waste Disposition Record of Decision agreed to by Ohio EPA and DOE that calls for the construction of an on-site waste disposal facility as part of the remedy for more than 2 million cubic yards of D&D waste. Waste that does not meet the approved acceptance criteria for the onsite facility will be shipped off site for disposal at appropriate licensed federal or commercial disposal facilities.