Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant Virtual Museum

X-600 Steam Plant

X-600 Steam Plant

The X-600 Steam Plant was built between February 1953 and September 1954 to provide all the steam required for process and building heating purposes, cleaning equipment and various other uses throughout the gaseous diffusion plant. The building was upgraded with stack emissions controls and coal-handling improvements in the 1980s and 1990s.

The X-600 Steam Plant was located in the south central portion of the gaseous diffusion plant, about 300 feet southeast of the X-326 Process Building. Three coal-fired boilers (of the bent-tube design, each rated for continuous operation at 125,000 lbs. of steam per hour at 125 pounds per square inch or psi,) were used in conjunction with necessary auxiliary equipment to generate the required quantity of steam.

The purpose of the Steam Plant was to 1) heat buildings, 2) vaporize UF6 in autoclaves, 3) obtain UF6 samples, 4) maintain process temperature, 5) clean equipment, and 6) provide heat for other miscellaneous process operations. Steam was distributed throughout the site by two aboveground lines referred to as the east and west loops. Water for the steam was softened using sodium zeolite (in earlier years hydrogen zeolite was also used).
Coal to fire the boilers was trucked to the plant and stored just south of the Steam Plant in the adjoining 600 ft. long x 300 ft. wide X-600A Coal Pile Yard. Coal from the storage yard was moved by bulldozer to the track hopper for normal handling by the Steam Plant’s conveyor system. The approximate 4.1-acre Coal Pile Yard had a storage capacity of 50,000 tons but usually held about 10,000 tons. When the entire gaseous diffusion plant was in full operation, coal was consumed at a rate of 80 tons per day.

The X-600 Steam Plant operated 24 hours a day. The facility contained a transformer, two turbines, three boiler feed pumps, three ash hoppers, three electrostatic precipitators, and two 75-ton ash silos. A conveyor belt carried coal from the coal yard to the coal bunkers that automatically fed the stokers.

The X-600 Steam Plant was shut down in October 2012 after a new, more energy-efficient natural gas boiler system was installed and placed into operation to supply steam for the plant’s usage. The X-600 Steam Plant was demolished in September 2013.

Demolition was completed two weeks ahead of schedule by DOE’s Decontamination & Decommissioning (D&D) contractor Fluor-B&W Portsmouth on September 14, 2013. The D&D effort took 30,000 manhours and was safely completed in 51 calendar days with no first-aid or reportable incidents. The last container of building debris was shipped off site for disposal on September 30, 2013. A total of 194 containers, each weighing 40,000 pounds of debris, were shipped. Another 330 dump trucks or roll-off container loads of sanitary waste were delivered to a local landfill. In all, 11 million pounds of waste were shipped from the X-600 Steam Plant demolition project.

February 1953 – September 1954

Demolition complete September 2013

19,506 sq. ft.


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