Rueter: UCOR has saved $90M so far

Ken Rueter, president of UCOR.In an interview last week, UCOR President Ken Rueter said the contractor has saved the government $90 million over the past three years and expect that total to reach $200 million by the time the environmental management contract expires in 2020.

“We’ve done $920 million of work to date for $830 million of funding,” said Rueter, who assumed the leadership role on the Department of Energy contract in June — succeeding Leo Sain in that position.

“It gives (DOE) dollars to reinvest into additional cleanup.”

URS-CH2M Oak Ridge LLC has been DOE’s environmental manager since August 2011, when it replaced Bechtel Jacobs Co.

Most of UCOR’s high-profile work so far has been on large demolition projects. The tear-down and cleanup of the massive K-25 plant was completed early this year, and the contractor last week got started on demolition of K-31, another big structure that once housed equipment to process uranium for the nuclear industry.

While there are more demolition projects on the horizon, Rueter recently announced a management reorganization at UCOR that’s supposed to help position the company for additional DOE work and different types of projects.

For example, mercury cleanup at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant is expected to become a top funding priority in the next few years, and Rueter indicated that UCOR wants to be a part of that large-scale effort.

UCOR hopes to sustain the momentum of demolition projects at the former uranium-enrichment site that’s being converted to an industrial park.

The contractor plans to complete the demolition and cleanup of all gaseous diffusion facilities by the end of calendar year 2016 (with K-27 being the last of the five buildings).

Following that, other demolition work on the horizon is Building K-1037, the Central Neutralization Facility, the TSCA Incinerator, old centrifuge test facility and the so-called Poplar Creek facilities.

Getting that work done will help open up more opportunities for industrial development at the site, Rueter said.

“Reindustrialization in my opinion has gone very well here,” he said. “I see some of the commercial clients . . . and see their presence growing in the parcels. I believe it can be a lot more — one by removing this environmental hazard that could potential concern potential clients and by making larger parcels available.”

Vision 2020 is completion of the rest of the cleanup mission at the East Tennessee Technology Park (the former uranium-enrichment site).

Vision 2024 would go beyond the current UCOR contract and option to extend, but Rueter indicated that the contractor is looking ahead and pursuing additional cleanup scope on the DOE Oak Ridge reservation.

Photo credit: Paul Efird/KNS

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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.