OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Recent figures from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) show the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) and its contractors are conducting cleanup at a rate leading the nation among federal facility sites.
Government-sponsored environmental cleanup in the United States extends far beyond DOE’s 15 active EM cleanup sites. It also includes scores of U.S. Department of Defense sites, and those overseen by other federal agencies, such as the U.S. Department of Interior.
There are 175 federal facilities, or sites, on the Superfund National Priorities List where cleanup is needed across the country. Those sites require cleanup tasks, known as remedial actions, which can range from tearing down buildings to digging up contaminated soil and treating groundwater plumes.
Remedial action completions are an important national target for EPA, and they are reported to Congress annually.
The latest reports show that from fiscal years 2018 to 2022, OREM accounted for 13% of all completed federal facility remedial actions in the U.S., and 40% of all completed actions in EPA’s Region 4, which includes Tennessee, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina and South Carolina.
“Remedial actions can vary in size and complexity across different federal facilities, but even with those considerations, these figures highlight a special focus and diligence from our employees that set us apart,” said OREM Manager Jay Mullis. “Their approach continues to reinforce our reputation as a site where federal investments lead to visible progress and enhanced safety.”
Crews in Oak Ridge were the first in the world to remove a former uranium enrichment complex that operated during the Manhattan Project and Cold War. That effort, completed at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) in 2020, involved removing more than 500 buildings with a total footprint that could cover 225 football fields.
Today, workers are in the final stages of removing all contaminated soil at ETTP. They’re also taking down old reactors at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and preparing former enrichment facilities for demolition at the Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12).
Together these projects are eliminating hazards and opening land for reuse. Cleaned land at ETTP is transferred to the community for economic development, and it is helping support expanding research and national security missions at ORNL and Y-12.
“Regional and national data show OREM has an incredibly high-performing Superfund cleanup program,” said Cathy Amoroso, EPA Region 4 Superfund Division manager for DOE coordination. “Oak Ridge’s numbers showcase how our teams are working together through complex issues and producing tangible successes that are resulting in meaningful risk reductions for nearby residents.”
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