OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (AP) — The federal government is spending millions of dollars to patch up a former production facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge that is intended for demolition.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/1GU06iL) the government has spent about $24 million over the past seven years for work that included repairs on two of Alpha-5’s seven roofs and removal of all materials at risk of causing explosions. And there is still more that needs to be done.
The repairs are necessary to mitigate some of the hazards the 530,000-square-foot facility poses to workers and the environment. Despite those hazards, there is no timetable for demolition.
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office have cited Alpha-5 in separate reports as a prime example of the government’s sluggish system for cleaning up no-longer-needed nuclear operations.
One of the criticisms of the recent GAO report was that the Department of Energy’s environmental management organization — which oversees the cleanup of the old facilities — doesn’t always consider risks when deciding which buildings to demolish first.
There are dozens of old facilities at Y-12 and other sites awaiting demolition. Many of the sites won’t be accepted by the cleanup program until the 2030s because of funding and other uncertainties, the GAO stated.
The GAO report cited National Nuclear Security Administration documents that show Alpha-5 has degraded so much “that site officials now detect contaminants, such as mercury, in areas where they were not detected two years earlier, and additional funds are needed to repair its failing roof.”
Steven Wyatt, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration, said in an email that the agency is continuing to monitor Alpha-5 and will take needed steps to reduce risks.
“The permanent solution, however, is decontamination and decommissioning of this facility,” he wrote.