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Crews haul away debris from Oak Ridge's K-1600 demolition project, marking the last of demolition activities at the former Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant.
Crews haul away debris from Oak Ridge's K-1600 demolition project, marking the last of demolition activities at the former Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – The final unneeded structure at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) has been torn down, bringing an end to demolition activities that have removed more than 13 million square feet of facilities. By completing this last teardown, Oak Ridge becomes the first site in the world to remove an entire uranium enrichment complex.

Building K-1600 was a recognizable facility due to its height and location, sitting in the middle of the footprint of Building K-25, a former uranium enrichment facility that was once the world’s largest building. K-1600 was used as a former test and demonstration facility for uranium enrichment centrifuges. Centrus Energy Corp. leased the government-owned facility from 2002 until 2019. The company no longer needed the lease after consolidating its centrifuge testing and demonstration activities into another location in Oak Ridge.

ETTP, formerly known as the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant, had contained K-25 and four other large uranium enrichment buildings, and hundreds of support facilities. The site dates back to the Manhattan Project and continued to expand its operations during the Cold War. Those operations ended in the mid-1980s, and the site was permanently closed in 1987.

“While this wasn’t one of our largest demolition projects, it was certainly one of the most meaningful,” Jay Mullis, manager of DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM), said of K-1600. “Its removal brings an end to a massive cleanup effort by our amazing workforce who have safely removed more than 500 facilities.”

A view of Oak Ridge’s Building K-1600 before demolition began earlier this year.
A view of Oak Ridge’s Building K-1600 before demolition began earlier this year.
A view of the K-1600 area following completion of demolition. The project marked the last teardown at the East Tennessee Technology Park and concluded an effort that has removed 500 structures at Oak Ridge.
A view of the K-1600 area following completion of demolition. The project marked the last teardown at the East Tennessee Technology Park and concluded an effort that has removed 500 structures at Oak Ridge.

OREM and cleanup contractor UCOR have cleaned up ETTP and transformed it into a multi-use industrial park, national park, and conservation area. To date, OREM has transferred more than 1,200 acres of land for economic development, and placed more than 3,000 acres in a conservation easement for community recreational use.

“Completing removal of this final unneeded structure advanced a successful cleanup effort that has reduced risks while helping facilitate the site’s transition to an economic and recreational area,” said Ken Whittle, UCOR project manager. “UCOR is proud to have been part of this historic achievement.”

More than 100 acres at the site will be used for historic preservation efforts. The K-25 footprint area, where K-1600 was located, is part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. Removing K-1600 helps increase accessibility and facilitate future plans for the area, which will include construction of a replica K-25 equipment building to complement the K-25 History Center.

An event is scheduled next week to celebrate the historic ETTP cleanup completion milestone, which will be featured in the Oct. 13 EM Update newsletter.

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