OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Federal project directors recently took members of the Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board (ORSSAB) on a tour to view DOE’s excess contaminated facilities at the Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).
Oak Ridge contains nearly a third of the Department’s high-risk facilities — far more than any other DOE location. The Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) is working to reduce risks and prepare a portion of these buildings for eventual demolition.
The board, comprised of 22 local members, is a vital component of OREM’s commitment to community engagement and serves as a resource for the cleanup program to gather insight, opinions, and recommendations from the public. The board meets monthly to learn about and discuss cleanup projects. When applicable, OREM provides tours for members to get an up-close look at that month’s topic to enhance their understanding.
Federal Project Director Brian Henry led the tour at Y-12, where he focused on two major projects. First, participants were able to learn about the work underway to clean out and remove the old, mercury-contaminated COLEX equipment outside Alpha 4. Next, the tour stopped at the Biology Complex, where crews have completed characterization. This process involved evaluating and sampling these 1940s-era buildings to confirm the contents and risks to enable demolition.
That complex has been vacant since 2000, and it contains chemical, radiological, physical, and biological hazards. OREM is scheduled to tear down two of the eight remaining structures this spring, removing two high-risk facilities from Oak Ridge’s list. The goal is to remove all of the complex buildings by the early 2020s.
Federal Project Director Bill McMillan led the tour at ORNL. Participants entered Building 3028 and Building 3029 where teams completed risk reduction work earlier this year. Both were hot cell facilities that closed in the 1980s after decades of isotope research.
The tour stopped at Building 7500, the Homogenous Reactor Experiment Building. OREM has conducted risk reduction and stabilization activities inside the building for almost two years. In December, workers successfully removed all of the asbestos-containing materials leaving Building 7500 empty and in stable condition until it can be demolished.
“We really enjoyed the opportunity to provide an in-depth and close-up look at our important work underway,” McMillan said. “I think this tour gave board members a deeper appreciation for our mission, and it helps them understand the challenges and complexities of our work as they develop future recommendations.”