An aerial look at the progress of the teardown of the Bulk Shielding Reactor in the central campus of Oak Ridge National Laboratory from start to finish.

The beginning, middle and end: An aerial look at the progress of the teardown of the Bulk Shielding Reactor in the central campus of Oak Ridge National Laboratory from start to finish. EM Oak Ridge crews have safely completed the demolition ahead of schedule, reducing risks at the laboratory and opening land for reuse at the site.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.EM recently completed the first-ever demolition of a reactor in the central campus area at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) cleanup contractor UCOR has safely taken down the Bulk Shielding Reactor, also known as Building 3010.

“I’m proud of the pace of progress our crews achieved since demolition began in September,” said Nathan Felosi, ORNL portfolio federal project director for OREM. “Removing Building 3010 is a significant accomplishment for our program because it kicks off our efforts to start eliminating aging reactor facilities located in the heart of ORNL.”

The Bulk Shielding Reactor complex was built in the 1950s for radiation shielding studies as part of the federal Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Program. It included a 27-foot-deep reactor pool filled with water to shield the radioactive components contained in the pool. Its mission changed to a general-purpose research reactor in 1963 and was shut down permanently in 1991.

“This major milestone in UCOR’s cleanup history took place because of the skill and dedication of our craft workforce and our dedicated support groups who ensure our craft have the programs, procedures and tools in place to safely accomplish their mission,” said Dan Macias, UCOR’s site integration and cleanup manager.

Work continues at the reactor site to finish reducing the size of debris from the teardown and haul debris to a disposal facility. Workers will complete packaging and disposal of the 250 truckloads of waste and debris generated by this project by the end of November.

One of the most important pre-demolition activities involved removing and disposing irradiated components from the reactor pool. After those tasks, workers drained the 130,000 gallons of the water from the pool and sent it to an onsite treatment facility. Then the pool area was decontaminated and filled with a concrete mixture to close it.

In addition to stabilizing the reactor pool, workers removed asbestos and other waste from the facility.

The Bulk Shielding Reactor was one of more than a dozen research reactors constructed at ORNL over multiple decades. Each contributed to ORNL’s reputation as a world leader in cutting-edge nuclear research and development. The facility was one of 16 inactive research reactors and isotope facilities EM is addressing at ORNL.

Crews are continuing deactivation and demolition preparations at the adjacent Low Intensity Test Reactor and Oak Ridge Research Reactor. Both are slated for near-term demolition, further transforming ORNL, reducing risks and clearing land for expanding research missions at the site.