Source: EM Update | Vol. 12, Issue 16; Contributor: Wayne McKinney | July 7, 2020

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A view of the former K-832 Basin at Oak Ridge before workers removed it.

A basin that once held cooling water used in Oak Ridge’s former uranium enrichment operations has been removed from the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), and now the site where it was located has been restored.

Workers recently completed removal of the K-832 Basin in the Poplar Creek area at ETTP. It was used in conjunction with a pumphouse and cooling tower, both of which were demolished by EM crews in 2017.

The below-ground basin contained more than 2 million gallons of nonradioactive water that had to be pumped and treated. After Oak Ridge cleanup contractor UCOR completed water and sludge removal and demolished the basin, workers backfilled and seeded the site.

“The K-832 Basin area now joins numerous other projects where we transformed areas with old, contaminated, and dilapidated facilities or subsurface structures into grassy fields for the site’s next chapter,” said James Daffron, acting ETTP portfolio federal project director for Oak Ridge’s EM program. “The landscape changes happening across ETTP are a testament to how close we are to achieving Vision 2020.”

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A view of the former K-832 Basin area after workers removed the basin and backfilled and seeded the site.

Among EM’s 2020 prioritiesVision 2020 is the cleanup program’s goal to complete all demolitions and major cleanup at ETTP by the end of 2020. It will mark the first time in the world an enrichment complex is cleaned and removed.

Crews finished taking down the last of the 11 main buildings in the Poplar Creek area in September 2019. That effort, which began in 2017, eliminated the most contaminated facilities remaining at the ETTP and removed the last of the buildings associated with the site’s gaseous diffusion uranium enrichment operations.

“Completion of the K-832 basin project wraps up a significant soil remediation effort in the Poplar Creek area, and it greatly enhances the aesthetics to the surrounding economic development parcels,” Daffron said.

The Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) and UCOR are working together to transform ETTP into a multi-use industrial park, national park, and conservation area for the community. That vision has already started to become a reality. OREM has transferred almost 1,300 acres at ETTP for economic development, with another 600 acres slated for transfer in the years ahead. OREM has also set aside more than 100 acres for historic preservation and placed more than 3,000 acres in conservation for community recreational use.