Office of Environmental Management

EM Addresses Risks at ORNL Facilities, Preparing for Next Cleanup Phase

November 12, 2019

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Oak Ridge workers grout a 47-foot-long underground transfer tunnel formerly used to load radioactive material into hot cells at Building 3026 at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Oak Ridge workers grout a 47-foot-long underground transfer tunnel formerly used to load radioactive material into hot cells at Building 3026 at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.EM workers have successfully moved two former nuclear facilities at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to the “cold and dark” stage in the deactivation process.

The work marks the beginning of Oak Ridge’s next major cleanup phase at ORNL and the Y-12 National Security Complex as crews near completion of major cleanup at the East Tennessee Technology Park next year.

Deactivating Buildings 3010 and 3026 paves the way for future demolition, removing a significant risk from the heart of ORNL while opening land for future research and science missions.

Getting a building to "cold and dark" involves isolating all utilities and ensuring a structure is safely configured for crews to take it down.

Buildings 3010 and 3026 are located in ORNL’s central campus, which includes the oldest facilities that require significant cleanup in the years ahead. Only two hot cells remain at the Building 3026 site after workers tore down the facility’s outer structure and four hot cells contained inside using funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

“We are excited to begin ramping up efforts at ORNL to start EM’s next major phase of cleanup,” said Bill McMillan, ORNL portfolio federal project director. “The projects we have planned and underway will eliminate risks and clear the way for growing missions at one of the nation’s most important scientific research sites.”

Employees with UCOR, EM’s Oak Ridge cleanup contractor, designed tools to characterize a 27-foot-deep reactor pool, pictured here. The pool is located inside Building 3010 at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Employees with UCOR, EM’s Oak Ridge cleanup contractor, designed tools to characterize a 27-foot-deep reactor pool, pictured here. The pool is located inside Building 3010 at DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Building 3010, known as the Bulk Shielding Reactor, was declared "cold and dark" in April. EM and contractor UCOR achieved cold and dark status for the remaining structures at Building 3026, which once housed the Radioisotope Development Laboratory, in September.

Workers in Building 3010 have completed characterization of a pool that houses irradiated items from the former research reactor. Drawing from innovation, employees designed underwater tools that allowed them to collect the characterization samples from components contained in the 27-foot-deep pool. Now, the team is preparing to safely and carefully remove the irradiated items from the reactor pool. Additionally, crews are working to remove all asbestos from the building.

At the Building 3026 area, employees recently finished pumping and grouting a 47-foot-long underground transfer tunnel formerly used to load radioactive material into a hot cell. This crucial step ensures there is no pathway for contaminant migration during demolition of the two hot cells.

This month, workers at the Building 3026 hot cells will begin building a protective tent to cover the area during demolition. Demolition of the hot cells is scheduled to begin in 2020.

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