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 and operated until 1985. In addition to defense missions, the plant also produced enriched uranium for the commercial nuclear power industry. In 1987, DOE terminated uranium enrichment operations in Oak Ridge and closed the site permanently.
As a result of these previous operations, ETTP had contaminated buildings, soil, sediment, and groundwater that required remediation to protect human health and the environment. In 1989, DOE formed the Office of Environmental Management (EM) to begin cleanup at the site, and the program has been working since then to transform the site from a shuttered, government-owned former enrichment complex into a privately-owned, multi-use industrial park for the community.
In 2020, EM achieved a historic accomplishment by completing core cleanup at the site – which included demolishing more than 500 structures and addressing major areas of soil contamination. It marked the first time in the world an entire uranium enrichment complex has been removed, and it is also DOE’s largest completed environmental cleanup effort to date.
With core cleanup complete, EM is also nearing its ultimate vision for the site. So far, more than 1,300 acres, along with major site infrastructure, have been transferred for economic development with another 600 acres slated for transfer in the years ahead. Another 3,000 acres have been placed in a conservation easement that is open to the public for recreational use, and more than 100 acres have been set aside for historic preservation efforts as part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park to commemorate and share the stories of the men and women who built and operated the site.
With all demolition complete, the remaining soil and groundwater remediation required at the site moves to the forefront. That work is expected to continue through 2024.
EM’s goals for ETTP are to:
- Address remaining soil and groundwater contamination
- Complete remaining land transfers from government ownership for future beneficial reuse
- Complete construction on remaining historic preservation facilities specified in the 2012 Memorandum of Agreement
- Transfer long-term stewardship areas to DOE’s Office of Legacy Management