Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management

DOE completes demolition of K-31 gaseous diffusion building

June 26, 2015

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Workers take down the last section of the K-31 Building.

Workers take down the last section of the K-31 Building.

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

ETTP, once called the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant, was built as part of the Manhattan Project in the 1940s to enrich uranium for the atomic bombs that would end World War II. The site later produced enriched uranium for commercial and defense purposes. Operations ceased in 1985, and the site was permanently shut down in 1987. DOE then began cleanup operations, which includes demolition of many of the buildings at the site.

The 750,000-square-foot K-31 Building was built in 1951. As part of a cleanup project in 2005, most of the hazardous materials were removed from the facility, leaving its shell to be demolished. URS | CH2M Oak Ridge LLC (UCOR), DOE’s cleanup contractor for the Oak Ridge Reservation, began demolishing the building last October and completed demolition almost 4 months ahead of schedule and approximately $4 million under budget.

“We have a tremendously talented workforce that is driving work forward and an excellent partnership with our cleanup contractor UCOR,” said Sue Cange, manager of the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management. “Together, we are safely and efficiently transforming ETTP and making clean land available for future reuse.”

With the demolition of K-31, only one gaseous diffusion building remains at ETTP—the K-27 Building. UCOR is currently deactivating the 383,000-square-foot facility to prepare it for demolition, working toward DOE’s Vision 2016 initiative of having all gaseous diffusion facilities removed from ETTP by 2016.

“Bringing down K-31 ahead of schedule is a tremendous achievement,” said Ken Rueter, UCOR president and project manager. “Even though it had been largely decontaminated earlier, bringing down a facility of this size and disposing of the resulting debris is not a simple task. With a lot of cooperation among DOE, UCOR, and our labor partners, we were able to safely complete this demolition project and help move DOE one step closer to privatizing the ETTP site.”

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.