Office of Environmental Management

EM, UCOR Keep Oak Ridge’s Growing Cleanup Workforce Safe

November 6, 2018

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A new worker learns about asbestos abatement in a mock-up, which serves as a training ground before beginning work inside the Biology Complex.
A new worker learns about asbestos abatement in a mock-up, which serves as a training ground before beginning work inside the Biology Complex.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – As crews near completion of the East Tennessee Technology Park cleanup, the Oak Ridge Office of EM (OREM) is preparing to begin major work at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12).

   Increased funding has allowed for accelerated cleanup across the site and the creation of 350 new jobs so far this year at Oak Ridge.

   Providing a boost to the local economy, the new workers join teams already removing risk and stabilizing some of the 220 excess contaminated facilities at these research and national security sites.

EM has completed characterization inside the Biology Complex, preparing it for deactivation.
EM has completed characterization inside the Biology Complex, preparing it for deactivation.

   OREM and cleanup contractor UCOR are ensuring the new employees are integrated into Oak Ridge’s safety culture.

   “Failure to do so not only jeopardizes the new employee’s safety but can also adversely affect their coworkers,” said Daniel Beckworth, Y-12 cleanup enterprise program manager. “When it comes to environmental cleanup, safety is the number one job requirement.”

   UCOR provides new hires safety briefings and training at mock-ups of work sites, and pairs them with experienced employees. At the ORNL operations and cleanup group, experienced leaders talk with new hires about processes and procedures in day-long mentoring sessions. That group recently surpassed 2 million hours without injury resulting in a missed day of work.

   The mock-ups are critical to training employees responsible for deactivating the Biology Complex prior to demolition — Y-12’s biggest cleanup project to date.

After asbestos removal and deactivation, EM will demolish the five remaining Biology Complex facilities at the Y-12 National Security Complex.
After asbestos removal and deactivation, EM will demolish the five remaining Biology Complex facilities at the Y-12 National Security Complex.

   Shut down for nearly 20 years, the deteriorated Biology Complex buildings contain asbestos. New workers are trained in the proper handling and disposition of the substance in a mock-up of an asbestos-laden environment.

   More than 50 new laborers are receiving training at this mock-up, which features vertical and horizontal pipe runs including valves and elbows to simulate field conditions. Foam insulation installed around the pipes simulates asbestos, and workers practice tasks while wearing required personal protective equipment, including respirators.

   After mock-up training is completed using glove bags, experienced asbestos workers will work with the trainees in asbestos abatement.

   The Biology Complex deactivation work is scheduled for completion by summer 2020.

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