Black and white photo of Oak Ridge's original Powerhouse Complex

The former K-770 Powerhouse provided energy for enrichment operations at the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant. The powerhouse and oil tank farm are pictured during early operations. EM demolished the facilities in the 1990s.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — The biggest land parcel transfer at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) has just been completed.

DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) has transferred a 365-acre tract where a powerhouse complex was once located to the Community Reuse Organization of East Tennessee (CROET).

CROET is a local nonprofit that receives building and property transfers from federal ownership at ETTP, and then reuses those assets to attract new industry to the site that will benefit the community economically.

This transfer is part of OREM’s ongoing efforts to transform ETTP, the former Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant, into a multi-use industrial center, national park and conservation area.

An aerial view of Oak Ridge's Powerhouse Complex

An aerial view of the 365-acre tract where the Powerhouse complex was once located. It is the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management’s largest transfer to date at the East Tennessee Technology Park.

A large, open field where the Oak Ridge Powerhouse Complex used to stand

A view of the Powerhouse Area at Oak Ridge’s East Tennessee Technology Park, which workers restored in 2021 to enable future reuse.

Simultaneous with cleanup, OREM’s reindustrialization efforts have enabled 25 companies to locate at the ETTP site. Transfer of this most recent parcel brings the total amount of land transferred for economic development to more than 1,600 acres.

OREM and cleanup contractor UCOR finished tearing down all former enrichment buildings and support facilities at the ETTP site in 2020. In total, OREM cleared away more than 500 structures with a combined footprint that could cover 225 football fields.

All soil remediation projects at ETTP will be completed this year, which is an EM priority for 2024.

“Transferring this land maximizes reuse potential and generates economic growth for an area that no longer has a federal DOE mission,” said Joanna Hardin, ETTP federal portfolio federal project director. “Our cleanup and reindustrialization efforts have made the site safer while also creating new economic opportunities for the region.”

The Powerhouse complex was constructed in the 1940s to supply coal-fired electrical power for gaseous diffusion operations at the site. The buildings were shut down and disassembled in the 1960s with demolition complete in the 1990s.

Aerial view of a metal scrapyard

Oak Ridge's Powerhouse Area was later used as a metal scrapyard. EM removed 50,000 tons of scrap metal from it in 2007.

One section was used as an oil tank farm for fuel oil used in the boilers. Another portion was used as a scrap metal yard. OREM removed 50,000 tons of scrap metal from the site in 2007, and later completed several soil cleanup actions to enable the area’s transfer.

“Approximately 100 acres of this newly transferred tract is suitable for industrial development,” said Kevin Ironside, UCOR environmental services and end state planning manager. “The property also includes a wildlife management area and hiking trail that attract nature enthusiasts.”

This site is ideal for industrial development, Ironside added. Interstate 40 is easily accessible, and a railroad spur located on the parcel could be used by future businesses in conjunction with other transportation options in the area. A nearby barge facility on the Clinch River that was refurbished by a private company in 2018 provides another asset.

Additional property transfers at ETTP are anticipated this year, including approximately 100 acres to be transferred to the City of Oak Ridge.

-Contributor: Wayne McKinney