An aerial view of EM's soil remediation project underway on the massive footprint of the former K-25 building at Oak Ridge.
An aerial view of EM's soil remediation project underway on the massive footprint of the former K-25 building at Oak Ridge.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – An area of land in Oak Ridge will be added to the Manhattan Project National Historical Park thanks to EM’s cleanup efforts there.

Crews are addressing an area of soil on the massive footprint of the former K-25 building, one of the original Manhattan Project facilities. EM crews demolished the K-25 building several years ago.

Located at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), the mile-long, U-shaped K-25 was the largest building in the world at the time of its construction. It helped enrich uranium used in weaponry that ended World War II.

Several facilities had sat inside the building’s “U” shaped footprint, and they’ve since been torn down. After removing the slabs of those facilities, employees conducted sampling that revealed an area of soil contaminated from a solvent used to clean equipment during Manhattan Project and Cold War operations.

EM cleanup contractor UCOR is removing the contaminated soil, excavating down as far as 38 feet to ensure appropriate soil removal.

“As we methodically excavate and dispose of the contaminated soil, we are sampling to determine the extent to which we will have to continue digging,” UCOR Project Manager Amanda Human said. “We’ve made great progress and are working diligently to deliver an end state free of environmental risks.”

Soil removed from the former K-25 building area at Oak Ridge is being loaded into a truck that will transport it for disposal.
Soil removed from the former K-25 building area at Oak Ridge is being loaded into a truck that will transport it for disposal.
A worker scans excavated soil at the former K-25 building site at Oak Ridge to ensure it contains no radioactive contaminants.
A worker scans excavated soil at the former K-25 building site at Oak Ridge to ensure it contains no radioactive contaminants.

So far crews have removed more than 2,200 truckloads of contaminated soil from this impacted area, and that project is expected to continue through 2024. All soil remediation projects at ETTP are slated for completion in 2024 as EM works to finish its cleanup at the site.

A rendering of the viewing platform overlooking the footprint of the former K-25 building site at Oak Ridge.
A rendering of the viewing platform overlooking the footprint of the former K-25 building site at Oak Ridge.

As the K-25 building site is incorporated into the national park, EM has also conducted significant historic preservation efforts there. EM is set to construct a viewing platform that oversees the entire K-25 building footprint. The facility will be adjacent to the K-25 History Center, which EM finished constructing in 2020. The platform will allow visitors to appreciate the massive size of the former building. Construction is expected to begin next year.

Uranium enrichment operations at ETTP, once known as the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant, ceased in 1985 and the site closed in 1987. EM has been working to transform the site into a multi-use industrial park, national park and conservation area.