OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – A longstanding cleanup goal is now within view at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP). Advances by the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) are transforming the former Manhattan Project and Cold War uranium enrichment complex into a private-sector industrial park to benefit the community.
OREM and its contractor URS | CH2M Oak Ridge (UCOR) are working together to remove old, contaminated structures, clean the soil and water, and enable the transfer of land and infrastructure for reuse and development. Through these efforts, the goal to complete major cleanup at ETTP by 2020 is becoming a reality.
“It’s very exciting to witness our vision being realized at ETTP,” OREM Manager Jay Mullis said. “Getting here required an incredible amount of planning and hard work from our employees. While we are still working toward our ultimate goal for the site, our progress is already visible, and it is enhancing safety and creating new economic opportunities for the region.”
So far, Oak Ridge’s cleanup program has torn down more than 400 facilities that once supported 40 years of uranium enrichment activities, and the list of demolished facilities grows almost monthly. By 2020, workers will have taken down more than 500 facilities with a footprint spanning 113 football fields.
Oak Ridge became the first site in the world to successfully remove all of its massive gaseous diffusion buildings. The land these buildings occupied is now available for major industrial development and historic preservation. So far, more than 1,000 acres have been transferred and an additional 800 acres are ready for transfer.
OREM has also transferred 14 buildings, emergency services, rail lines, and most of the domestic water supply and sanitary sewer infrastructure, and it completed modifications to most electrical infrastructure, allowing it to be transferred.
Visitors who return to the site are amazed at the transformation. Through these changes, companies are seeing significant signs of potential at the site, and they are investing in its future.
LeMond Composites recently located in the area with plans to begin carbon fiber production this year. Locally-owned MCLinc is renewing its commitment with the construction of a new 30,000-square-foot laboratory facility. UniTech Services Group funded the refurbishment of ETTP’s barge area to receive and transport shipments using local river systems, adding to the site’s existing offerings and infrastructure.
This year, the stage is set for even more. OREM is scheduled to finish demolition of many of ETTP’s remaining structures, including buildings that once supported uranium enrichment operations (Poplar Creek Facilities), a waste incinerator facility (Toxic Substances Control Act Incinerator), and former water treatment facilities (Central Neutralization Facility). The program will also complete the removal of approximately 30,000 feet of tie lines, the pipes that once transported enriched uranium between the site’s facilities.
OREM is also beginning construction on the K-25 History Center early this year adjacent to the slab of the former K-25 building, which is now part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. This project fulfills one of the program’s major historic preservation commitments, and it creates a national attraction to share the site’s Manhattan Project and Cold War achievements with visitors.
The cleanup program will continue to build on 2017’s progress this year and maintain its path toward completing major cleanup in 2020.