A worker wearing a hazmat suit in a stripped room sprays asbestos treatment throughout the room
An Oak Ridge worker sprays fixative to support asbestos abatement efforts at the Beta-1 facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.EM crews in Oak Ridge have completed major deactivation efforts on a Manhattan Project-era facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex slated for demolition.

The Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) and contractor UCOR have been working toward this deactivation milestone since 2020. Workers finished deactivating the above-ground floors of the Beta-1 facility in December. Now, only deactivation work in the basement remains before the teardown can begin.

Beta-1 is a 210,000-square-foot, two-story building constructed in 1944 to enrich uranium during World War II. It was later converted to laboratory space for fusion-energy technology.

The Beta‐1 Complex includes the Fusion Energy Technology Building, Helium Compressor Building and a steel utility transformer. All three will be demolished together.

A large, brick building

Constructed in 1944, Beta-1 is a former Manhattan Project era enrichment facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex. The Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management is slated to demolish the 210,000-square-foot facility in 2026.

“Having safely and efficiently removed barriers, completing the building deactivation is a great achievement for our team,” said Billy Lloyd, UCOR project manager.

Workers faced a significant challenge at Beta-1: standing water in the basement due to old, failed sump pumps. To resolve this issue, crews installed a water treatment system and have since treated and removed more than 2 million gallons of water that previously stood in that area. The system filters water to meet stringent water quality standards. Once filtered, the water is treated and discharged.

In addition to ridding the basement of water, crews removed contaminants from the above-ground structure, including asbestos from floor and ceiling tiles and pipes. They also took out more than 100 linear feet of old, brittle thorium-contaminated piping.

Workers in hazmat suits work to remove asbestos from a large facility room
Oak Ridge workers remove asbestos as part of deactivation efforts inside the Beta-1 facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex.

With the above-ground deactivation complete and the basement pumped of water, the final step is to deactivate the basement prior to demolition.

“We continue to make great progress with the water treatment skid in place and are poised for a successful basement cleanup by fall 2024,” said William Lloyd, UCOR project manager.

Demolition of Beta-1 is expected to begin in 2026.

The next major demolition project at Y-12 is Alpha-2, another large Manhattan Project enrichment facility measuring 325,000 square feet, scheduled to begin this summer.

-Contributor: Carol Hendrycks