OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) maintained its momentum in 2022, accomplishing ambitious EM priorities, altering skylines and advancing key projects essential to up-and-coming cleanup.
The successful year was punctuated by the completion of two projects deemed EM priorities for 2022. In the first, employees began processing high-activity uranium-233 inventory stored at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), helping eliminate risks while providing rare medical isotopes for cancer treatment research.
Later in 2022, OREM completed the transfer of the former Biology Complex footprint at the Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12) after crews removed massive high-risk structures and their foundations. They created 18 acres of clean, reusable land for Y-12 to build its new Lithium Processing Facility. EM Senior Advisor William “Ike” White was on hand last week to celebrate that transfer of land back to the National Nuclear Security Administration.
The past year saw Oak Ridge make headway on many other impactful projects, including notable demolitions at both ORNL and Y-12.
Crews notched their first-ever demolition of a former reactor in ORNL’s central campus. Tearing down the Bulk Shielding Reactor eliminated a potential hazard in the heart of the site. It also kicked off the first of many projects that will reshape that area and open land to support future research missions.
At Y-12, crews took down another high-risk structure with the demolition of the former Criticality Experiment Lab. The project removed a shuttered 1940s-era building that had been deteriorating for 30 years. Workers also deactivated numerous other excess contaminated facilities at ORNL and Y-12, preparing them for knockdown in 2023 and beyond.
While several buildings came down, others were sprouting up. OREM completed construction on the Sludge Processing Mock Test Facility at ORNL. That facility will play a vital role in maturing technologies needed to begin processing Oak Ridge’s 400,000-gallon inventory of transuranic sludge waste. Engineers and staff will use data from that facility to inform the final design for the Sludge Processing Facility.
Construction continued on the Mercury Treatment Facility, which is slated to be operational in 2025 and is key to begin large scale cleanup at Y-12. Crews continued building the treatment facility portion, and they are preparing to lay the foundation for the headworks facility portion.
OREM also hit a significant milestone with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation when the three entities signed a record of decision for the Environmental Management Disposal Facility. That document allows OREM to move forward with early site preparation and the final design for an onsite disposal facility enabling steady cleanup progress in the years ahead at ORNL and Y-12.
OREM also launched a newscast in 2022 to highlight the partnerships and people contributing to Oak Ridge’s success. The news program has enhanced engagement with employees, stakeholders and others in the community since it began earlier this year. Energycast Oak Ridge airs in 24 counties across middle and east Tennessee and is also available on OREM’s social media channels.
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