OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – While DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) celebrates a historic achievement at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), more work is needed to address old, contaminated structures and modernize other portions of the Oak Ridge Reservation.
Now that major cleanup is complete at ETTP, more than 120 highly trained workers have transitioned from ETTP to join existing crews working at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12).
The benefit of transitioning these workers to other Oak Ridge sites is substantial. Employees are able to continue their jobs, they have extensive training and experience in challenging settings, and they are already grounded in the site’s rigorous safety culture. ETTP workers were able to move to ORNL and Y-12 and begin work after a site-specific briefing, saving hours of training time and cost per person.
These workers possess in-depth knowledge and experience in deactivating aging and contaminated facilities, including how to safely remove radiological and hazardous material such as contaminated equipment, asbestos-containing material, and legacy electrical equipment. Removing hazards such as these is highly regulated, requiring specific personal protective gear and special handling.
Former ETTP Enterprise Project Manager Dan Macias is now leading cleanup efforts at ORNL and Y-12.
“We are lucky to be able to have this level of skill and motivation in our existing workforce,” he said. “These folks know how to work safely while conducting multiple activities. It is a huge benefit to be able to transfer both their skills and their mindset to other facilities on the reservation.”
Many of the innovations and lessons learned at ETTP, which enabled OREM and cleanup contractor UCOR to complete ETTP demolition four years ahead of schedule, are now being applied at the other projects, such as the Biology Complex at Y-12, where crews are using their expertise to remove asbestos.
Craft workers, safety specialists, waste handling personnel, and project managers used their expertise to deactivate multiple buildings simultaneously at ETTP, a trend continuing with projects at ORNL and Y-12.
At ORNL and Y-12, chemical, radiological, and structural hazards need to be addressed at more than 200 excess and contaminated facilities. Those sites also house the largest inventory of high-risk facilities of any location in the DOE complex.
While these future cleanup projects present a daunting undertaking, Oak Ridge’s trained and experienced workers have already proven they’re up to the task.