Category Archives: East Tennessee Technology Park

K-27 demolition moves ahead furiously; preparations underway for other Cold War facilities

Poplar Creek MapAerial view with some of the Poplar Creek Facilities in the foreground. Below is recent photo of K-27 demolition. (DOE/Lynn Freeny)

The post-Cold War cleanup is proceeding at a furious pace at an Oak Ridge site once home to the nation’s largest uranium-enrichment complex.26504269220_6547c787a4_k

With K-27, the last of five gaseous diffusion plants, coming down quicker than expected and likely to be demolished before the year-end target date, the U.S. Department of Energy has started making preparations to tear down a bunch of other old buildings that once supported the nuclear program.

URS-CH2M Oak Ridge, DOE’s cleanup manager, has taken advantage of favorable weather conditions to accelerate the demolition of K-27, which ceased operations in 1964. The four-story, 383,000-square foot building is highly contaminated and equally deteriorated. Continue reading

Demolition moving rapidly at K-27 uranium site

k27patrickA safety officer overlooks the demolition activities taking place at the historic K-27 gaseous diffusion plant, the last of five uranium-enrichment facilities to be taken down at the Oak Ridge site. (KNS photos/Michael Patrick)

On a chilly morning in early February, workers maneuvered their heavy equipment to take a ceremonial “first bite” out of K-27 — a four-story, 383,000-square-foot industrial facility that once processed uranium for the nation’s Cold War nuclear arsenal and helped fuel early generations of power reactors.k27new

A small group of onlookers applauded the moment.

In the 10 weeks since then, the demolition project has progressed mightily, thanks to an experienced workforce and an unusual run of good weather in East Tennessee.

The project is already approaching the halfway point, and it looks like the U.S. Department of Energy’s cleanup contractor — URS-CH2M Oak Ridge — will have no trouble meeting its year-end completion goal. Continue reading

Big progress at switchyard project

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Concrete supports for the electricial infrastructure are all that’s left of the K-732 Switchyard at the East Tennessee Technology Park. (DOE photo/Lynn Freeny)

The demolition of an old switchyard at the government’s former uranium-enrichment plant is pretty much a done deal, according to a Department of Energy spokesman, and what’s left to be done is characterization of soils at the Oak Ridge site to determine if there’s any contamination that needs to be removed. Continue reading

Tennessee passes $2B milestone on EEOICPA payments

Tennessee is the first and only state so far to pass the $2 billion milestone for payments and medical care from the government’s compensation program for sick nuclear workers. That mark was passed recently. Most of the Tennessee claimants were former workers (or their surviving relatives) at the Oak Ridge nuclear facilities. Continue reading

220 tons down . . . 110 to go

The second of three 110-ton condensers being transported from an old electrical switchyard at the East Tennessee Technology Park to a landfill on the Dept. of Energy’s reservation has arrived safely at its destination. Thee third one is supposed to be moved on Thursday — weather permitting. That’s according to info from DOE spokesman Ben Williams. Because of their size and weight, the shipments require a special trailer and escort on public roads.

DOE warns of traffic-clogging shipments

switchyardThe Department of Energy said three slow-moving shipments of oversized components over the next couple of weeks could clog traffic on Highways 58 and 95. The shipments involve large condensers — each weighing about 110 tons — from an old electrical switchyard at the East Tennessee Technology Park. They are being transported to a landfill off Bethel Valley Road on DOE’s Oak Ridge Reservation.

The shipments are scheduled to occur beginning March 10, depending on the weather. Continue reading

‘This may be more historic than you realize’

IMG_5377After more than two years of preparations, workers began tearing down the K-27 Building on Monday, and a flock of local dignitaries and news hounds turned out to witness the historic event.

K-27 is last of five gaseous diffusion plants that once formed the nation’s largest uranium-enrichment complex, producing fuel for nuclear reactors and providing key material for the Cold War arsenal of nuclear weapons.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates it will cost about $292 million to demolish K-27, a highly deteriorated uranium-enrichment plant that hasn’t operated since 1964.

Sue Cange, DOE’s cleanup manager in Oak Ridge, said she expects the job to be done by the end of the year — completing a series of demolition and cleanup activities known as Vision 2016. Continue reading

‘First bite’ at K-27

k27pictureWorkers will take the “first bite” out of the K-27 building on Monday morning, setting the stage for a year-long project to demolish the big building — the last of five gaseous diffusion facilities at what once was the nation’s largest uranium-enrichment complex.

The Department of Energy and its Oak Ridge cleanup manager, URS-CH2M Oak Ridge, will host a ceremony to mark the beginning of the end at K-27. The demolition project is estimated to cost about $292 million, including the preparations that have taken place over the past year. Continue reading

Planning the Manhattan Project Park’s future

IMG_5311The Manhattan Project National Historical Park was officially created on Nov. 10, 2015, when Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Secretary of Interior Sally Jewel put their signatures on the memorandum of agreement. The MOA directed how the two agencies would work together to develop the three-site national park.

Even though the park already exists, it’s still a long way from being what it will become. Those plans are just getting started, and that was the topic of a public meeting Monday evening and a flurry of activities by park leaders — including Tracy Atkins, who was named the park’s interim superintendent earlier this week.

IMG_5319“We’re working on our Foundation Document,” Atkins said Monday evening at a public meeting at Oak Ridge High School’s Food Court. That document will lay the foundation for the multiple layers of planning — identifying the park’s purpose, its significance and what should be included in the multi-site park.

The National Park Service urged those who turned out for the meeting to fill out comment cards and share their thoughts and suggestions about what’s important, which may influence the way the Manhattan Project is interpreted at the sites.

“What are the important stories from Oak Ridge that will feed into our interpretive theme?” Atkins asked. “What are those things that are important to protect? And then what experiences would people like to have in the park long-term?” Continue reading

Williams named UCOR’s chief operating officer

Williams Fran Color 2014Fran Williams has been named chief operating officer for URS-CH2M Oak Ridge (UCOR), the U.S. Department of Energy’s cleanup manager in Oak Ridge.

Williams is returning to the Oak Ridge contractor after retiring last year from her post as manager of environment, safety, health and quality assurance. She will succeed Matt Marston, who left UCOR last month to accept a senior management position with AECOM — one of the contractor’s parent companies.

According to UCOR, Williams played an important role in the contractor achieving Star status in the Department of Energy’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). Continue reading

75,000 gallons of rad-hot sludge and counting

In early 2014, evidence of radioactive pollution was discovered in the city of Oak Ridge’s sewage treatment facility on the west side of town.

sludgeThe unwelcome surprise was blamed on technetium-99 that had migrated from a demolition project at the federal government’s K-25 uranium-enrichment plant on the other side of the Clinch River.

The radioactive contaminants, which can be mobile in the environment, had infiltrated pipelines leading to the sewer system.

Although the radioactivity reportedly didn’t not pose a health threat to workers at the plant or drinking water supplies in the area, it prompted a number of cleanup actions — including efforts to remove the technetium in the sewage treatment systems. Continue reading

UCOR exec: ‘Rest assured, we’ll be competing for that work’

URS-CH2M Oak Ridge, the Department of Energy’s cleanup manager in Oak Ridge, has a contract that runs out in 2020 — about the time it is supposed to wrap up DOE’s Vision 2020. That “vision” completes the work at East Tennessee Technology Park, allowing the site to be converted to a private-sector industrial park. Continue reading