John Rendall, president and general manager of cleanup contractor CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley at EM’s West Valley Demonstration Project, shares news that demolition of the Main Plant Process Building has begun at the West Valley site

John Rendall, president and general manager of cleanup contractor CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley at EM’s West Valley Demonstration Project, shares news that demolition of the Main Plant Process Building has begun at the West Valley site. Also pictured are members of a panel that provided updates on cleanup projects across the DOE complex and talked about the next phase of the EM cleanup mission. From left of Rieman are Laura Wilkerson, acting manager for the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management; Ken Rueter, president and CEO of EM Oak Ridge cleanup contractor UCOR; Connie Flohr, manager for the Idaho Cleanup Project at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Site; and Ty Blackford, president of Idaho Environmental Coalition, EM’s cleanup contractor at the INL Site.

A panel of leaders from EM and several of its contractors provided updates at the National Cleanup Workshop on key progress and discussed the next phase of the cleanup mission.

“This panel has been a fixture at the event for the past eight years and it’s a great opportunity for us to celebrate the key successes in EM, thank each and every person who’s made them possible, and learn about how we got here,” said Cathy Tullis, EM chief of staff, as she kicked off the session as panel moderator.

Audience members did not wait long before hearing a major EM announcement. Surprise guests Craig Rieman, EM West Valley Demonstration Project (WVDP) deputy director, and John Rendall, president and general manager of EM cleanup contractor CH2M HILL BWXT West Valley, came on stage to announce demolition has begun on the Main Plant Processing Building (MPPB) at WVDP. Read EM's news flash on the launch of the demolition, which fulfills an EM 2022 priorityhere.

“The project will take about 30 months to take down,” Rendall said. “In addition to preparing Main Plant to start demolition, we’ve also put in controls to take it down at a deliberate pace to maintain a condition where we can do it safely and get it offsite.”

Joel Bradburne, EM manager of the Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office, brought the audience back in time as he reviewed steps leading to the recent demolition of the X-326 uranium process building at the Portsmouth Site, achieving an EM 2022 priority.

Bradburne focused on the key role of partnerships with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, Ohio Department of Health, Portsmouth Site Specific Advisory Board and other stakeholders. The X-326 project was completed 18 months ahead of schedule and $20 million dollars under budget.

“Inside our 326 game plan, we are probably moving into the second quarter of the game,” Bradburne said, shifting gears to discuss the site’s next steps. “Over the years of incorporating the unique solutions to the overall cleanup vision at Portsmouth that I’ve touched on within the project portfolio, I would offer that we are firing on all cylinders right now.”

Cathy Tullis, EM chief of staff, speaks during a panel session at the National Cleanup Workshop focused on cleanup progress and the next phase of EM’s cleanup mission.
Cathy Tullis, EM chief of staff, speaks during a panel session at the National Cleanup Workshop focused on cleanup progress and the next phase of EM’s cleanup mission.

Laura Wilkerson, acting manager for the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management, updated the audience on a new onsite disposal project to support EM’s upcoming work at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Y-12 National Security Complex.

“These sites combined have the largest number of high-risk excess facilities in the DOE complex,” Wilkerson said of ORNL and Y-12. “We plan in the next couple of decades to demolish over 400 facilities at these two sites and will need a new disposal facility to proceed with that work.”

The Environmental Management Disposal Facility, slated for construction beginning in 2027, will provide essential disposal capacity needed to maintain progress and is designed to hold 2.2 million cubic yards of waste.

Ken Rueter, president and CEO of EM cleanup contractor UCOR, shared insight on the success of the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) project, completed in 2020, and how lessons learned from that cleanup will be applied to future work.

Rueter noted several elements of Oak Ridge success, focusing on leadership’s active role, enhanced communication with partners, inclusion of top industry leaders and local, state and national stakeholder advocates.

“Success is infectious. What was experienced in 2016 and 2020 with the successful completion of the ETTP, one of the largest environmental cleanups in the country — I call it a ‘luxury once tasted becomes a necessity.’ That’s what we want at Y-12 and ORNL. That’s what we need,” Rueter said.

Connie Flohr, manager for the Idaho Cleanup Project (ICP) at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Site, outlined several upcoming milestones, including spent nuclear fuel transfer from wet to dry storage to be completed in 2023; completion of legacy transuranic waste shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant by 2028; closure of the Radioactive Waste Management Complex by 2028; completion of tank closure by 2028; and removal of three Naval Reactors Facility reactor buildings through 2032.

Ty Blackford, president of Idaho Environmental Coalition, EM’s ICP cleanup contractor, provided an update on Integrated Waste Treatment Unit operations. He said the site expects to complete sodium-bearing waste processing by the end of fiscal 2028. Blackford also noted that four remaining tanks and supporting structures at the site’s tank farm will be emptied, cleaned, stabilized and closed in the same timeframe.

“I think the best is yet to come still,” Flohr said. “And I think we’re really keeping an eye on the fact that a lot of what we are doing is going to enable the Office of Nuclear Energy to further their mission at the lab in Idaho.”