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Congressional District # 01


EPA ID# OH6890008976
Last Updated: May, 2015

Site Description

The Feed Materials Production Center, also known as the Fernald Environmental Management Project, or the Fernald Closure Project is a 1,050-acre facility located in southwestern Ohio, approximately 19 miles northwest of downtown Cincinnati.  The facility is located just north of the small town of Fernald, and has an estimated population of 14,600 residing within five miles of the site.  The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) constructed and operated the site from 1951 to 1991, producing high purity uranium metal in support of national defense programs.  This was accomplished by chemically and physically purifying a variety of feed materials, converting uranium compounds into uranium metal, casting the metal into various shapes, and machining the castings to specified dimensions. 

Site Responsibility

As a DOE facility, DOE is responsible to implement any required cleanup actions for the site.

Threats and Contaminants

Some of the materials contained trace quantities of fission products (e.g. technetium-99) and transuranics (e.g. plutonium-239).  As a result, the primary contaminants are radionuclides including uranium, thorium, and radium.  Extensive contamination existed at the facility with over two thirds of the site containing uranium contaminated soil.  Additionally, a uranium groundwater plume 1.5 mile long and 1.8 mile wide exists onsite and offsite of the facility.

Cleanup Progress

The site was divided into five Operable Units (OU)s to manage the cleanup of the large 1,050 acre site.  All five Records of Decision (RODs) were signed between 1994 and 1996 addressing all of the OUs at the site. Further, 30 Removal Actions were completed between 1991 and 2006.

OU 1 was comprised of eight waste pits containing 600,000 cubic yards of materials.  The remedy for OU 1 consisted of excavation of the waste pit materials and their liners, physical drying of the materials, and shipment via rail for off-site disposal at Envirocare of Utah.  Excavation and rail shipments began in February 1999 and were completed in June 2005.  975,000 tons of materials were shipped from the waste pits to Envirocare.   A railroad line was constructed on-site to facilitate the shipment of waste pit materials to Envirocare.  A total of 154 unit trains (with an average of 60 rail cars) containing waste pit materials were shipped to Envirocare.

OU 2 was comprised of six waste disposal areas primarily located in the southern portion of the site "Southern Waste Units".  The remedy for OU 2 consisted of the excavation of approximately 350,000 cubic yards of waste material and and disposal of the materials in an On-Site Disposal Facility (OSDF), provided the material met the waste acceptance criteria, or off-site disposal for materials exceeding the waste acceptance criteria for the OSDF.  Excavation and placement of materials in the OSDF began in July 1998 and was completed in November 2003.

OU 3 consisted of 223 total structures including those involved in production from 1959 through 1991, and those involved in environmental remediation.  The remedy included safe shutdown which included removal of piping and building materials, demolition of the structures and disposal of the materials in the OSDF, provided the debris met the waste acceptance criteria, or off-site disposal for debris exceeding the waste acceptance criteria for the OSDF.  Demolition and placement of materials in the OSDF began in August 1994 and was completed in August 2006. 

OU 4 consisted of four Silos containing 11,000 cubic yards of uranium, thorium and radium waste materials.  Early attempts to vitrify the Silos materials in 2000 failed.  Subsequently, decisions were made to remove the silos material, stabilize the material into a cement-like form and dispose of the silos materials off-site.  Silo 3 activities began in March 2005 and were completed in April 2006 with 2,297 containers of material being disposed via truck to Envirocare of Utah.  Silos 1 and 2 operations began in September 2004 and were completed in May 2006 with 3,776 containers of waste material being shipped via truck to Waste Control Specialists (WCS) in Texas for interim storage.  U.S. DOE permanently disposed of the Silos 1 and 2 waste materials at WCS, with placement completed in August 2009. 

OU 5 consists of the media (primarily soil and groundwater) across the 1,050 acre site.  The remedy included excavation of contaminated soil to meet the final cleanup levels for the undeveloped park, and disposal of those materials in the OSDF, provided the soils met the waste acceptance criteria, otherwise the soil was disposed off-site.  Groundwater is to be treated to meet drinking water standards.  Soil excavations began in 1998 and currently all of the soil has been certified to meet final cleanup levels.  Construction of the OSDF was completed in October 2006, with all waste material being placed into the OSDF according to the design.  The OSDF holds 2.85 million cubic yards of material.  

On and off-site groundwater contamination still exists.  Offsite groundwater contamination is being contained via an extraction system installed in 1991.  An extensive network of extraction and injection wells were installed and began operation in August 1998 to expedite groundwater treatment and contaminant removal.  Since that time, over 8 billion gallons of groundwater have been pumped from the aquifer, removing more than 5,000 pounds of uranium.  The groundwater is being treated to return the aquifer to drinking water standards, which is anticipated to occur in 2025.

Except for the ongoing groundwater cleanup efforts, the cleanup of the site was completed in October 2006 with a total cost of $4.4 billion. Expedited activities and cooperation between United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA), Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA), DOE and its contractor Flour Fernald and local stakeholders have resulted in reducing cleanup costs by $2 billion.  Much of the success of this project has been as a result of the cooperative relationships between Ohio EPA and U.S. EPA working together as joint regulators on this large DOE complex.

DOE recently completed the third Five-Year Review for the Fernald site in September 2011.  The review found that the remedy at the Fernald site remains protective of human health and the environment.  The next Five-Year Review is scheduled for September 2016.

Property Reuse

The primary use of the site is an undeveloped park for wildlife viewing, with U.S. DOE maintaining site controls.  Extensive wetlands, trails and a multi-use environmental education facility have been constructed and is open for use.  Natural resource restoration activities are being coordinated with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and were completed in October 2006. 


Remedial Project Manager, U.S. EPA
david seely (seely.david@epa.gov)
(312) 886-7058

Community Involvement Coordinator, U.S. EPA
susan pastor
(312) 353-1325




Site Profile Information

This profile provides you with information on EPA's cleanup progress at this Superfund site.


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