DOE EM Bringing More Change to Oak Ridge

Source: EM Update | Vol. 14, Issue 2; Contributor: Ben Williams | January 18, 2022

With 2021 in the books, crews are gearing up for a busy year of projects that will build on previous accomplishments and continue altering the landscape in Oak Ridge.

The Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) and contractor UCOR have key efforts at all three major cleanup sites — the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL).

With demolition complete at ETTP, OREM is focused on finishing soil remediation, continuing land transfers and completing historic preservation commitments. These tasks are wrapping up EM’s mission at ETTP and advancing its transformation into a multi-use industrial park.

In 2022, workers are scheduled to remove numerous concrete pads from former buildings and complete remediation in 10 areas across ETTP, leaving only two areas to address moving forward. OREM is also transferring land to the City of Oak Ridge that previously housed the Centrifuge Complex. Local officials plan a regional airport at that location.

Construction is also set to begin on a large viewing platform, which will be adjacent to the K-25 History Center and overlook the original Building K-25 footprint. This facility is one of the final components of a multi-project agreement to commemorate the rich history of the former enrichment complex.

With OREM nearing completion on its mission at ETTP, crews are ramping up a host of deactivation and demolition projects at Y-12 and ORNL.

At Y-12, workers are in the final stages of removing the former Biology Complex slab and any soil impacted by the complex. With those activities set to conclude this spring, work is scheduled to begin this year on removal of additional slabs followed by transfer of the complex’s cleared 18-acre footprint back to the National Nuclear Security Administration as the planned location for its future Lithium Processing Facility.

Crews are also working to complete deactivation activities at Alpha-2 and Beta-1, two former enrichment facilities that date back to the Manhattan Project. They are also scheduled to demolish the Old Criticality Experiment Laboratory, another deteriorated 1940s-era facility.

Contractor APTIM-Northwind will continue progress constructing the Mercury Treatment Facility, a linchpin essential to future large-scale demolition and mercury cleanup at Y-12.

Additionally, workers are set to finish deactivating mercury-contaminated equipment outside Alpha-4, one of Y-12’s largest high-risk excess contaminated facilities. They will also begin reducing hazards inside the facility.

Meanwhile, crews are also busy at ORNL on other major cleanup projects.

Teams are in the final stages of deactivating two former research reactor facilities — the Low Intensity Test Reactor and Bulk Shielding Reactor — and plans call for demolishing those buildings by the end of 2022. Those projects clear away high-risk structures in the heart of ORNL.

Deactivation is also progressing on numerous other contaminated, deteriorating former reactors and research facilities, including the Oak Ridge Research Reactor, Experimental Gas-Cooled Reactor, final Radioisotope Isotope Laboratory hot cell and Isotope Row facilities.

OREM and contractor Isotek will begin processing the remaining inventory of uranium (U)-233 stored at ORNL, which is OREM’s highest priority at that site. Employees will begin processing the high-dose inventory in newly upgraded hot cells later this year. They finished processing the low-dose inventory using gloveboxes last year.

With upgrades and installation of new equipment complete, Isotek will process canisters with the high-dose U-233 material. The heavily shielded hot cells protect workers and allow them to handle the material using remote manipulators. This upcoming phase will enable Isotek to enhance productivity by processing larger amounts of U-233 and extracting more medical isotopes for next-generation cancer treatment research.