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An aerial view of East Tennessee Technology Park prior to demolition.
For 40 years, the 2,200-acre East Tennessee Technology Park was home to a complex of facilities that enriched uranium. The site dates back to the World War II Manhattan Project. In addition to defense missions, the plant produced enriched uranium for the commercial nuclear power industry from 1945 to 1985. In 1987, DOE terminated uranium enrichment operations in Oak Ridge and closed the site. As a result of these operations, ETTP has a legacy of contaminated buildings, soil, sediment, and groundwater that require remediation for the protection of human health and the environment.
EM’s goal is to remove these structures and legacy contamination and transfer the property to become a private sector industrial park. ETTP cleanup began in 1989; since then, the EM program has achieved considerable progress. However, several major projects remain to achieve Vision 2020, a goal to complete cleanup at the site by the end of 2020.
To achieve our vision for ETTP, we are executing a portfolio of cleanup projects that demolish facilities, dispose legacy waste, and remediate soil and groundwater. Upon completing remediation, DOE’s remaining responsibilities at the site are limited to performing long-term stewardship activities such as maintaining land-use controls and long-term monitoring. ETTP will be a revitalized site that is populated with private sustainable commercial businesses with all of the utilities and roads transferred and maintained by municipalities.
First, however, EM must complete its cleanup portfolio at the site. Oak Ridge’s EM program has already achieved Vision 2016 at the site, which was the goal to remove all five former gaseous diffusion plants by the end of 2016 (K-25, K-27, K-29, K-31, and K-33). It marked the first time in the world that a former uranium enrichment complex has been cleaned and removed. To achieve Vision 2020, EM will also remove K-1037, the Poplar Creek Facilities, the Central Neutralization Facility, the TSCA Incinerator, and the centrifuge facilities.
In addition to demolition, EM must address soil and groundwater at ETTP. The area is separated into two zones. In Zone 1, the majority of remediation is complete, and a final decision on groundwater is being developed. When complete, nearly 1,400 acres will be available for reindustrialization. In Zone 2, only a portion of the remediation is completed, and most of the remediation will occur after all of the buildings are demolished. EM will evaluate the extent of contamination, and groundwater will be addressed following soil remediation.
EM’s goals for ETTP are to:
- Reduce risks to human health and the environment posed by contaminated facilities and legacy waste
- Reduce environmental liabilities
- Return the land to a beneficial reuse— a private sector industrial park
- Commemorate the contributions of the men and women who worked at the former K-25 site