Office of Environmental Management

EM Removes More Than 4 Miles of Piping at Oak Ridge Site

April 3, 2018

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Workers foam tie lines to trap contaminants in place.
Workers foam tie lines to trap contaminants in place.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) and its cleanup contractor URS|CH2M Oak Ridge (UCOR) finished removing more than 25,000 feet of piping at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) that once transported uranium through a series of buildings during the enrichment process.

   UCOR was tasked with removing more than 4.5 miles of the piping, called tie lines, which ranged in diameter from 1 to 20 inches.  

   Employees began characterizing the tie line piping in mid-2014 using nondestructive assay and physical sampling, and they initiated demolition in December 2015. Workers removed the outer heat shields and ducting and applied a foam fixative inside the pipes to trap potential contaminants in place. Crews disassembled, packaged, and shipped the tie lines for disposal.  

   “Completing the removal of these tie lines is another important step toward cleaning and eliminating risks at ETTP,” said Karen Deacon, acting federal project director for OREM. “The landscape change is noticeable, and we are approaching our ultimate vision for the site.”  

Before-and-after photos show how removal of the tie lines eliminates risks and improves the site’s aesthetics.
Before-and-after photos show how removal of the tie lines eliminates risks and improves the site’s aesthetics.
Before-and-after photos show how removal of the tie lines eliminates risks and improves the site’s aesthetics.
Before-and-after photos show how removal of the tie lines eliminates risks and improves the site’s aesthetics.

   The tie lines once sprawled across the site and connected all five former gaseous diffusion uranium enrichment buildings. The last of these massive buildings was demolished in 2016. Oak Ridge became the first site to successfully remove all of its gaseous diffusion enrichment buildings after workers demolished five facilities totaling 4.5 million square feet.

   The final portion of this piping was removed in an area known as Poplar Creek at ETTP. Last summer, OREM started projects to eliminate the 11 buildings, support facilities, and associated infrastructure in this area. OREM anticipates completing that work by early 2019.   

   These cleanup projects are part of a larger effort by OREM and UCOR to transform ETTP into a private-sector industrial park. Major cleanup is expected to be complete in 2020, but transfers and reindustrialization are already underway. Currently, nearly 20 companies are already located at the site.

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