OAK RIDGE, Tenn. -  The Department of Energy's (DOE) Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) has begun cleanup and demolition of the former Radioisotope Development Laboratory, a long-vacant facility on the Laboratory's central campus.  Contractors expect to employ approximately 30 workers for the project, which is slated for completion by January 2010.

The announcement marks the first Recovery Act demolition project made possible in Oak Ridge.  The project will use $10.6 million of the $755 million in funds allocated to the Oak Ridge Office under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act enacted earlier this year.

“We are pleased to announce the beginning of safe demolition on this facility, an important step in reducing the legacy cleanup footprint at Oak Ridge National Lab,” said Gerald Boyd, Manager of DOE’s Oak Ridge Office.  “Because of this Recovery Act funding, we are able to quickly remove a building that needs to be demolished due to safety issues.”

Building 3026, as the facility is known today, dates back to the Manhattan Project and postwar era, when one of the Laboratory's primary missions was the production of radioisotopes for medical, research, and industrial uses.  Constructed from 1943-45, the building contained specially-shielded work areas, called hot cells, where radioisotopes from ORNL's Graphite Reactor and succeeding reactors were processed for shipment.

The approximately 20,000-square-foot wooden facility has been inactive for 20 years and has sections of the roof that have collapsed.  The building’s demolition is part of a long-term central campus cleanup strategy and will clear space for development of new facilities in a key area of the National Laboratory.

"This project will eliminate the significant radiological and fire hazards associated with this facility," said ORNL Director Thom Mason. "Many people think of this as a cleanup activity, but this project is also important because it eliminates the risks that this aging structure presents to ORNL’s ongoing research mission."

The project’s first contract has been awarded to small business Clauss Construction of Lakeside, California, which received DOE’s 2008 Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Business-of-the-Year award.  The company will dismantle wooden interiors of the facility while safely removing other hazards such as lead and asbestos as the Laboratory’s daily routine continues around the site. The concrete hot cells will be protected during the demolition and will be removed in a future project.  Total project cost for the entire demolition is $12.3 million, with $1.7 million of that cost coming from Environmental Management base program funding.

The Oak Ridge National Laboratory is a multipurpose science and technology laboratory managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy.