Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management

Demolition of K-31 gaseous diffusion building begins

October 8, 2014

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OREM began demolition of the 750,000 sq. ft. K-31 Building, marking the removal of the fourth of five gaseous diffusion buildings at the former uranium enrichment site.

OREM began demolition of the 750,000 sq. ft. K-31 Building, marking the removal of the fourth of five gaseous diffusion buildings at the former uranium enrichment site.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Demolition of the K-31 Building at Oak Ridge’s East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) began today, marking the removal of the fourth of five gaseous diffusion buildings at the former uranium enrichment site.

The two-story building covers 750,000 square feet and spans a 17-acre footprint. The K-31 facility began operations in 1951, and it was used to enrich uranium for defense and commercial purposes until it was shut down in 1985. In 2005, EM removed most of the hazardous materials from the building’s interior.

“This project is possible because of the project managers and crews that completed the K-25 Demolition Project under budget and ahead of schedule,” said Sue Cange, acting manager of the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (EM). “DOE and UCOR have established a model partnership that is allowing us to maintain momentum, complete additional cleanup work, and retain skilled workers.”

URS | CH2M Oak Ridge LLC (UCOR), EM’s cleanup contractor for the Oak Ridge Reservation, is responsible for demolishing the facility. The company prepared it for demolition this past summer by conducting asbestos abatement, removing the facility’s exterior transite paneling, disconnecting the building’s power sources, and completing pollution prevention efforts, such as filling interior and exterior storm drains. 

EM and UCOR worked together to accelerate K-31’s demolition five months ahead of its original proposed baseline schedule. The early start was achieved through EM’s oversight and the hard work and safety focus of UCOR’s skilled workforce, supporting subcontractors, and labor partners.

“Demolishing K-31 will bring us another step closer to our Vision 2016 initiative — removal of all gaseous diffusion facilities from ETTP by 2016,” said Ken Rueter, UCOR president and project manager. “Achieving this vision will mark the first-ever complete cleanup of a gaseous diffusion plant and facilities. Removal of K-31, and afterward K-27, will eliminate a nuclear hazard and open up more ETTP property for reindustrialization and regional economic development.”

Once the K-31 demolition is completed next year, the 383,000-square-foot K-27 Building will be the only remaining gaseous diffusion building at ETTP. It is scheduled for demolition in 2015.

Under DOE’s reindustrialization program, property at ETTP is being transferred to the private sector as the agency works to make the site a private sector industrial park. Cleanup at the site is paving the way to achieve DOE’s goal and creating a safer environment.