Source: EM Update | Vol. 13, Issue 33; Contributor: Wayne McKinney | August 24, 2021
A report released last week by the East Tennessee Economic Council shows DOE creates $7.2 billion in economic benefits and high-quality jobs annually for the state’s economy through research, national security, and environmental cleanup missions in Oak Ridge.
Approximately 2,500 Oak Ridge employees focus on advancing EM’s environmental cleanup. Their work is creating new economic opportunities for the community, and nowhere is that more evident that at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP). That site is a featured case study in the council’s latest report that examined the impact of DOE’s investment in Tennessee in fiscal 2020.
After nearly two decades of work that removed 500 dilapidated, contaminated structures, EM completed major cleanup at ETTP in 2020. The effort transformed a former enrichment complex that presented a liability to the community into a marketable asset that is attracting new businesses and economic development.
EM has transferred nearly 1,300 acres at ETTP to the community to date for industrial development, including two transfers completed this summer. Both of those most recent transfers preserve areas with historical significance, including one of the site’s main entryways — known as Portal 4. It’s expected to be refurbished and repurposed for new office space.
Large tracts of land, such as the former Centrifuge Complex site at Oak Ridge, pictured, offer ideal locations for industrial development. This tract is part of the location identified for a proposed general aviation airport.
Through EM’s cleanup progress and transfers, ETTP is now a multi-use industrial park home to more than 20 businesses. Those companies will soon be joined by two new developments that will be the biggest at ETTP to date — a demonstration reactor and a medical isotope facility.
Kairos Power, an advanced nuclear engineering company, will invest $100 million and create 55 jobs to deploy a demonstration reactor where a massive enrichment building once stood. The company plans to develop technology to provide carbon-free, affordable energy to the U.S. electricity market.
Coqui Radio Pharmaceuticals Corp. expects to begin operating a medical isotope production facility at ETTP in 2025, adding more than 200 high-paying jobs to the economy.
Planning also continues for a proposed general aviation airport at ETTP for private and corporate airplanes. This addition would provide another key piece of infrastructure to attract major industry. Companies like Coqui would benefit from using the airport to transport time-sensitive products, such as short-lived radioisotopes.
The airport would be located on 200 acres at ETTP that EM is scheduled to transfer to the City of Oak Ridge. If approved, the airport would be built on land that once housed the Centrifuge Complex, one of the tallest and final structures demolished at the site.
As economic development continues at ETTP, EM contractor UCOR is set to remove building slabs and excavate remaining contaminated soil. Those efforts are completing EM’s mission at the site and paving the way for the cleanup program to transfer additional land to the community for beneficial reuse.
“Our cleanup at ETTP has been on a historic scale, and now all of those efforts, in addition to the planning and strategy to reuse the site, are paying dividends,” said Dave Adler, director of the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management’s quality and mission support division. “The site has become a regional asset with new businesses, educational facilities, and beautiful greenways.”
EM also designated nearly 3,500 acres for conservation, providing habitat for wildlife and hiking trails, bike paths, canoe launches, and other activities for residents and tourists.
“EM’s commitment and investments to clean this land have enhanced safety and created new opportunities for the community for years to come,” Adler added.