OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – They once served as gateways to a secret site that helped end World War II. Now, EM and cleanup contractor UCOR are demolishing the portals that once controlled access to the former Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant — literally and symbolically removing the barriers to the site’s future state.
Originally, these structures housed guards who screened employees as they filed through the gates to support the plant’s uranium enrichment efforts. With that mission ending in the 1980s, demolition of these portals represents another major step toward EM’s vision for the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP).
Together, EM and UCOR are working to transform the once-secret, government-owned land into a private sector industrial park that creates new economic opportunities for the region.
“These may not be the largest structures being demolished at ETTP, but they represent the progress being made to transform the site as more land is opened for private economic development and the need to restrict access diminishes,” said Karen Deacon, acting ETTP portfolio federal project director.
Three portals have been demolished in recent weeks, including two that controlled access to the massive former K-25 Building. This mile-long structure was torn down in 2013, and its footprint is now part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.
Workers have demolished 12 of the portals in past years. When major cleanup is completed in 2020, only two portals will remain that will be reused for other purposes.
“From a constantly changing skyline to parcels being transferred to private businesses, we are well on our way to achieving Vision 2020 — EM’s goal to complete major cleanup at ETTP by 2020,” UCOR President and Chief Executive Officer Ken Rueter said. “We are still working to demolish the remaining buildings that supported the site’s previous mission, and when UCOR completes those efforts in the next year and a half, we will have created a valuable asset that greatly benefits the community.”
EM has already demolished more than 400 buildings and transferred almost 1,300 acres from government ownership at ETTP.