Building 3005, a former research reactor facility located in the central campus area of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, operated from 1951 to 1968.
Building 3005, a former research reactor facility located in the central campus area of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, operated from 1951 to 1968.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – With one final demolition project underway at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), an EM 2020 priorityDOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) and its contractor UCOR have begun transitioning its ETTP workforce to new cleanup projects.

Last month, the first crew transitioned from ETTP to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) to support the deactivation of Building 3005, which houses the former Low Intensity Test Reactor.

“This is an exciting new phase for our program,” ORNL Portfolio Federal Project Director Nathan Felosi said. “The men and women who led the successful cleanup efforts at ETTP are now advancing cleanup at one of the nation’s most important research sites.”

Because of their specialized experience at ETTP, the crews are able to rapidly step into work at their new project sites. Their experience helps ensure safe and efficient operations at ORNL as OREM works to eliminate hazards, enhance safety, and make land available for future science and research missions.

The Low Intensity Test Reactor operated from 1951 to 1968 as a water-moderated and cooled reactor that used enriched uranium as fuel and beryllium as a reflector. It became world-famous when, for the first time, a photographer captured the blue glow caused by radiation in the pool above the reactor. That photo appeared on the cover of the October 1951 issue of Scientific American.

Crews stationed at ORNL brought the facility to the “cold and dark” stage in early July. This involves disconnecting external sources of power into the structure and isolating electrical and mechanical devices that might pose a hazard to employees.

Workers have removed all universal waste from Building 3005. That waste includes electronic devices, batteries, fluorescent lights, mercury thermostats, and other mercury-containing equipment.

Now, workers are in the early stages of deactivation to prepare the structure for its scheduled demolition next year.

UCOR managers prepared for more than a year to transition workers from ETTP to conduct cleanup at Building 3005 and other facilities across the Oak Ridge complex. Temporary facilities have been set up to accommodate workers, and structures like Building 3005 have been placed in the cold and dark stage and characterized to support future deactivation and demolition work.