Oak Ridge Low Intensity Reactor Video

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – The Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) and cleanup contractor UCOR have safely completed demolition of the Low Intensity Test Reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), checking off a second EM 2023 priority at the site in as many months.

This latest successful teardown also marks the second reactor EM crews have taken down in ORNL’s central campus over the past year, following the removal of the Bulk Shielding Reactor last fall.

“This was a complex project, and we’re extremely proud of all the team members who worked together to plan and complete it safely,” said Nathan Felosi, ORNL portfolio federal project director for OREM. “Those efforts showcase EM’s impact by clearing away another high-risk excess contaminated facility and continuing the visual transformation at ORNL.”

Oak Ridge Low Intensity Reactor Priority Banner graphic

The Low Intensity Test Reactor, also known as Building 3005, was built in 1949 as a criticality testing facility that used highly enriched fuel with water as a coolant. It operated until 1968.

“Demolishing this structure presented unique challenges,” said Brad Adams, UCOR project manager. “The outer structure had to be demolished in a way that didn’t disturb the reactor. A high-reach crane had to be used on a small footprint without disturbing other ORNL operations. Through hard work, perseverance and ingenuity, we were able to safely bring down both the outer structure and safely pull out and package the reactor.”

Watch an overview of EM's project resulting in the successful demolition of the Low Intensity Test Reactor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Teardown of the three-story facility began in March, when crews removed the outer structure and various ancillary facilities. Next, workers used a high-reach crane to remove a trolley and bridge crane from the building. They then removed precast cement slabs and shield blocks to access and address the main reactor structure.

Once the slabs and shield blocks were removed, crews used a crane to raise the 37,600-pound reactor structure out of its housing. They placed the 30-foot-long reactor in a specialized carbon metal container for shipment for disposal.

In total, the demolition project produced more than 1.1 million pounds of waste. Workers will ship the reactor to an approved waste disposition site within a few weeks.

Test Reactor being lifted into the air for removal
In the final step of the Low Intensity Test Reactor demolition project, a crane raised the 37,600-pound reactor structure from its housing, placing the 30-foot-long facility in a specialized carbon metal container for shipment for disposal.

Crews are now busy preparing for deactivation and demolition of the adjacent Oak Ridge Research Reactor, known as Building 3042, and the Graphite Reactor support facilities.

Both are slated for near-term demolition, further transforming ORNL, reducing risks and clearing land for expanding research missions at the site.

-Contributor: Carol Hendrycks