Homestretch of ETTP Cleanup and Transformation

Source: EM Update | Vol. 13, Issue 9; Contributor: Wayne McKinney | March 9, 2021

A view of the site where crews removed the building slab for the Centrifuge Complex. The project, scheduled for completion this spring, will result in a grassy field available for transfer from government ownership for economic development.

Oak Ridge crews are removing building foundations and remaining contaminated soil areas at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP) to achieve EM’s ultimate vision for the site: a multi-use industrial center, national park, and conservation area.

All building removals and many major soil remediation projects at ETTP, which is the former Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant, were completed last year. The latest work is not as pronounced as the massive demolition projects that took place there over the past two decades, but it’s just as critical as EM transforms the former Manhattan Project and Cold War-era enrichment complex into new uses.

“Completing building demolition at ETTP significantly altered the site, eliminated numerous risks, and enabled new economic development at the site,” said Acting ETTP Portfolio Federal Project Director James Daffron. “However, there are some remaining building slabs and soil and groundwater remediation projects to complete. These efforts are enhancing safety and making more land available to the community for reuse in the future.”

The former Centrifuge Complex area, which had a footprint of 235,000 square feet, is the largest slab removal taking place at ETTP. Crews are breaking up and removing the concrete slab, sampling soil to identify potential contamination, and backfilling excavated areas with clean soil.

The project, scheduled to wrap up this spring, will convert the site into a grassy field available for transfer from government ownership for economic development.

Crews with Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) cleanup contractor UCOR are also removing contaminated soil and backfilling sites in other ETTP areas. At the location of the former K-1401 facility, workers have removed thousands of cubic yards of contaminated soil and backfilled the area with clean soil. K-1401, one of the site’s early facilities, was used as a cleaning and decontamination facility, generating a variety of contaminants.

In another area where tanks associated with the site’s former power infrastructure stood, crews placed a 2-foot protective soil cover over a 9-acre tract that contained asbestos-contaminated soil. They are also placing a 2-foot cover on an adjacent 21-acre site and contouring it to ensure proper stormwater drainage.

OREM is also working with regulators on an interim record of decision to address groundwater cleanup at the site. It will accompany two existing records of decision addressing soil remediation of the site’s main plant and the area surrounding it.

Cleanup at ETTP is paying dividends for the region. More than 20 business are already located there. Future industrial development projects include a medical radioisotope pharmaceutical company and a nuclear test reactor facility.