K-25 is coming down

East Wing Demo

Work begins today on demolition of the last standing section of the K-25 building. (UCOR photograph)

As expected, contract workers today began demolition on the last remaining section of the historic K-25 uranium-enrichment facility.

Demolition of K-25, which was the world’s largest building under one roof when it was constructed during World War II, began in December 2008 under the guidance of Bechtel Jacobs Co., then the Department of Energy’s cleanup manager in Oak Ridge. The work was turned over to URS-CH2M Oak Ridge in the summer of 2011, and UCOR is expected to finish tearing down the rest of building — consisting of 6 of the original 54 uranium-processing units — by the end of February.

“Beginning this final stage of demolition marks the end of an era,” UCOR demolition chief Steve Dahlgren said in a statement. “This building served the nation well for over 60 years (although enrichment operations were halted in the early 1960s) and played a role in ending World War II and the Cold War. Now it will soon be safely on the ground and in the history books.”

K-25 was the nation’s original gaseous diffusion plant. The mile-long, U-shaped building housed an elaborate system and pipe and converters to process uranium hexafluoride in a gaseous form, separating fissionable U-235 for use in nuclear weapons and for fuel in nuclear reactors,

 

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.