Organized in 1973, the East Tennessee Economic Council (ETEC) is an independent, regional, non-profit membership organization dedicated to supporting the federal government’s missions in Oak Ridge as well as encouraging new opportunities to fully utilize the highly-skilled talent, cutting-edge technologies and unique facilities that make up the federal reservation, the University of Tennessee complex, and the TVA region.
Celebrating A Vision
On Tuesday, August 30th, Sue Cange, manager of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management for the better part of two years, will celebrate completion of a series of demolition and cleanup activities known as “Vision 2016” at the former K-25 Site with a few close friends.
Actually make that more like several hundred friends, as the work force involved in the East Tennessee Technology Park cleanup currently totals between 1,200 and 1,500 individuals — with all-in support expanding that number to somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,700 men and women.
The Aug. 30 invitation-only event has been, you might say, 20 years in the making — as it was in 1996 that former DOE-ORO Manager Jim Hall, the father of Oak Ridge “reindustrialization,” kick started accelerated cleanup efforts with the formation of a task force and an eventual Industry Day organized in 1997 to explore in earnest the reuse opportunities of the former gaseous diffusion plants located in Oak Ridge — highlighted by the mile-long, U-shaped K-25 facility and including 50 acres of what’s been described as high-hazard, high-security and highly classified facilities.
Toward the end of this multiple-decades’ effort and after two years of preparations on the last facility alone, workers began tearing down the K-27 Building in February — the last of the five gaseous diffusion plants that once formed the nation’s largest uranium-enrichment complex.
This marked the first time anywhere in the world that an entire uranium-enrichment complex has been deactivated and demolished, Cange stated — again — having first noted this mighty milestone some six months ago.
Of course, local cleanup efforts certainly won’t end with the successful conclusion of Vision 2016. Though now, as always, the work performed throughout the Oak Ridge Reservation continues to be funding dependent, “Vision 2020” plans call for cleaning up the remaining portion of the East Tennessee Technology Park and “Vision 2024” expands those cleanup efforts to the Y-12 National Security Complex — where mercury levels in particular will be addressed.