Biology Complex Deactivation Advances in Oak Ridge

Source: EM Update | Vol. 11, Issue 43; Contributor: Susanne Dupes | Nov. 5, 2019

EM crews are making significant progress removing asbestos and other hazardous waste from the Biology Complex at Oak Ridge’s Y-12 National Security Complex in a deactivation project that’s more than 60 percent complete.


EM crews are preparing the six-story 9207 Facility at Oak Ridge’s Biology Complex for demolition. The building spans more than 256,600 square feet.

Asbestos abatement teams with UCOR, EM’s Oak Ridge contractor, are working inside the six-story 9207 Facility, which spans 256,600 square feet, and the three-story 9210 Facility, which spans 64,700 square feet. This project paves the way for EM to begin demolishing remaining buildings that comprise the Biology Complex next year.

Momentum is building in the project after UCOR subcontracted deactivation work at the 9210 Facility, augmenting the workforce so abatement and demolition preparation can proceed at that facility in tandem with the work going on inside the 9207 Facility.

Oak Ridge is also adding newly trained workers to the project. Ten members of the inaugural East Tennessee Apprenticeship Readiness Program class now work at the Biology Complex.

After completing a specialized training experience, these new employees team up with seasoned deactivation personnel at a mock-up area created by UCOR. There, the new workers gain experience and proficiency with various methods of asbestos removal before beginning their work inside the Biology Complex buildings.

A hallway in the Biology Complex before, at top, and after Oak

Also advancing cleanup are transfer platform cars. These lifts installed by UCOR facilitate the movement of equipment, supplies, and employees between floors of the multi-level facilities. This approach has enabled crews to remove the hazards of these deteriorating buildings more safely and quickly.

Workers have already abated and shipped more than 350,000 pounds of asbestos waste for disposal. Deactivation is expected to be complete in summer 2020, and demolition is scheduled to begin later that year.

Originally constructed for recovering uranium from process streams, the Biology Complex was later used for DOE’s research on the genetic effects of radiation from the late 1940s. When operational, the facilities once housed more individuals with doctorates than anywhere in the world.

The Biology Complex previously consisted of 11 buildings. EM demolished four of the structures in 2010 as part of work under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and EM removed another two structures in 2018 as part of DOE’s Excess Contaminated Facilities initiative.