OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Employees from Oak Ridge’s EM program and its lead contractor, UCOR, took the stage at the annual U.S. Women in Nuclear (WIN) regional conference last week to discuss the East Tennessee Technology Park’s (ETTP) past, present, and future.
A highlight came from UCOR Reindustrialization Manager Sherry Browder, who discussed the latest developments as EM works to transform ETTP from a former government-owned uranium enrichment complex into a multi-use industrial park for economic development.
Late last year, EM transferred ETTP’s largest parcel to date, spanning more than 200 acres. During last week’s conference, news broke about a new development that will occur on that land.
Coqui Radio Pharmaceuticals Corp. announced that it will build a medical isotope production facility at ETTP to focus primarily on the production of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) isotopes. Mo-99 is the most widely used medical isotope in the world, but the U.S. currently does not have a domestic production source. It’s used in 18 million medical procedures a year in the U.S., aiding in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and numerous diseases.
“Coqui’s plans to build this major facility at ETTP show the potential of the site as a thriving economic hub for the area,” Browder said.
The company expects to construct and begin operating the ETTP facility in 2025, providing more than 200 high-paying, permanent jobs.
The facility is being constructed in an area called Duct Island, which was remediated by EM and UCOR. It was named for the numerous electrical ducts that crossed that area to provide power to the main plant area during early operations.
“The core of our reindustrialization effort has always been about giving back to the community,” said Browder. “Through EM’s cleanup progress and transfers at the site, we have set the stage for exciting growth and economic development that will greatly benefit the region.”
The former Manhattan Project and Cold War site provided enriched uranium for defense and commercial purposes until the mid-1980s. After the site was closed, EM began environmental cleanup and Oak Ridge launched a first-of-a-kind DOE program in 1996 intended to bring new jobs and economic opportunities to replace those lost with the site’s shutdown.
Since that time, EM has significantly cleaned up ETTP with the goal of completing all demolition at the complex in 2020. As demolition and remediation projects are finished, the reindustrialization program works with the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee and the City of Oak Ridge to transfer land and infrastructure for redevelopment.
This approach has led to the transfer of more than 1,200 acres and 14 buildings totaling 332,000 square feet. So far, 23 companies offering 300 private industry jobs exist on the site. As cleanup advances, larger tracts of land are available for commercial use.
WIN is an organization of women and men who work in nuclear energy and technology fields in the U.S. WIN's vision is to position the U.S. for the future of nuclear energy and technology through the advancement of women.