Crews Begin Tearing Down Next High-Risk Y-12 Building

Source: EM Update | Vol. 14, Issue 21; Contributor: Susanne Dupes | May 31, 2022

EM crews started tearing down a 1940s-era facility this month at the Y-12 National Security Complex in the latest project to address a large inventory of high-risk excess contaminated facilities on the Oak Ridge Reservation.

Crews began demolishing the Criticality Experiment Laboratory on the Oak Ridge Reservation by removing some of the auxiliary facilities surrounding the main building.

EM contractor United Cleanup Oak Ridge (UCOR) is taking down the former Criticality Experiment Laboratory, also known as Building 9213, the first structure to reach the demolition stage at Y-12 since crews safely demolished the Biology Complex in 2021.

“This facility demolition is one of our immediate priorities at Y-12, and we are in the process of preparing numerous others for demolition,” said Laura Wilkerson, acting manager of DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management. “These projects are eliminating risks and clearing land that can support national security missions in the future.”

More than 50 percent of the facilities throughout the National Nuclear Security Administration complex, which includes Y-12, are more than 40 years old. The Criticality Experiment Laboratory is one of them.

Built in 1949, the two-story, 24,000-square-foot facility was used to conduct experiments with fissile uranium isotopes for nuclear reactor designs. Employees performed more than 9,700 experiments there in its first decade, and it later supported the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s High Flux Isotope Reactor program. The building has been closed since 1992.

Crews brought the lab to the cold and dark stage — disconnection of all utilities to the facility —in 2021, along with several other Y-12 facilities.

“I am proud of what our workers have been able to safely accomplish at Y-12 under pandemic conditions and in a climate of supply chain shortages,” said UCOR President and CEO Ken Rueter. “In addition to starting demolition of this facility, our team demolished the last two buildings in the Biology Complex; fully deactivated the Old Steam Plant; and pressed forward with deactivating three former enrichment buildings that were part of the Manhattan Project.”

As part of deactivating the building, workers had safely removed, packaged and shipped 1,496 linear feet of asbestos-insulated piping, 323 linear feet of process piping and 8,540 square feet of other asbestos-containing material.

Demolition on the Criticality Experiment Laboratory is scheduled to be complete in fall 2022.