Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant

The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Paducah, Kentucky, is the only U.S.-owned uranium enrichment facility in the United States.

Owned by the U.S. Department of Energy, it was leased and operated by the United States Enrichment Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Centrus Energy Corp., until October 2014. From the 1960s to 2013, it produced low-enriched uranium fuel for commercial nuclear power plants in the United States and around the world.

The plant was opened in 1952 as part of a U.S. government program to produce highly enriched uranium to fuel military reactors and produce nuclear weapons. Enrichment at Paducah originally was limited to low levels, and the plant served as a "feed facility" for other defense plants in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Piketon, Ohio, where the enriched uranium was processed.

That mission changed in the 1960s, when Paducah, along with its sister plant in Piketon, began to enrich uranium for use in commercial nuclear reactors to generate electricity.

In May 2001, Centrus completed a plan to consolidate its uranium enrichment operations at Paducah. In June 2002, transfer and shipping operations at the Piketon plant were also consolidated at Paducah. Centrus ceased enrichment at Paducah in 2013.

Key Facts

Federal Site Acreage: 3,425
Gaseous Diffusion Plant Acreage: 750
Total Number of Buildings: 161
Process Buildings: 4
Process Building Dimensions: 1,100 ft. long, 970 ft. wide, 90 ft. high
Process Building Acreage Under Roof: 74 acres
Number of Enrichment Stages: 1,760
Peak Design Power Capacity: 3,040 megawatts
Largest Process Motor: 3,300 horsepower
Water Utilization: 26 million gallons per day
Number of Control Instruments: 85,000
Miles of Process Piping: 400 (approximately)
Miles of Roadway: 19
Miles of Railroad: 9
Miles of Perimeter Fence: 5 miles

Nuclear Fuel Cycle

Nuclear power is a vital part of the world's energy mix. Find out how the uranium fuel that powers the world's nuclear reactors is mined and processed in several important steps that make up the nuclear fuel cycle.

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