OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Workers recently finished removing contaminated soil under a section of the former Building K-25 footprint in another major action to help EM reach its goal to complete cleanup at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) this year.
ETTP, the former Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant, once contained five massive uranium enrichment buildings, which included Building K-25, along with hundreds of support facilities.
After conducting sampling and characterization, Oak Ridge’s cleanup contractor UCOR identified areas in a section of the 44-acre K-25 footprint where contaminated soil needed to be excavated and removed. Workers have now completed that excavation — which began in 2018 — removing more than 90,000 cubic yards of soil. The site has been backfilled and seeded.
“Completion of this project reduces risk at ETTP, while helping position us to achieve site cleanup this year,” said James Daffron, acting ETTP portfolio federal project director for Oak Ridge’s EM program
The K-25 Building was built in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project. At that time, K-25 was the largest building in the world. It operated until 1964, producing enriched uranium for defense and commercial purposes.
The K-25 Building demolition project began in December 2008, and that work was completed on the mile-long, U-shaped structure in December 2013.
Tearing down the 1.6-million-square-foot facility was EM’s largest ever demolition project. Waste hauled from the site included 6,000 compressors, 3,000 converters, 187,000 cubic yards of steel, 3,800 miles of electrical conductors, and 1.2 million cubic feet of asbestos insulation. In total, more than 460,000 cubic yards of K-25 waste — which could fill more than 33,000 dump trucks — was shipped for disposal.
Completing this soil remediation project eliminates risks at the site, and it will also help facilitate future plans to transform the K-25 Building footprint into a commemorative site as part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. The K-25 History Center opened earlier this year adjacent to the footprint, and future plans include a viewing tower, equipment building, and wayside exhibits.
EM’s goal for this year is to complete ETTP cleanup, known as Vision 2020, as the site transitions to a multi-use industrial park, national park, and conservation center.