Source: EM Update | Vol. 13, Issue 30; Contributor: David Sheeley | August 3, 2021

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The EM program in Oak Ridge has placed nearly 3,500 acres of land surrounding the East Tennessee Technology Park into conservation for residents and visitors to enjoy greenway trails, abundant wildlife, and nature.

DOE recently honored three EM sites for exemplary achievements in innovation, strategic partnerships, and planning and completion of projects that advance sustainability at Department sites and national laboratories.

The Savannah River Site (SRS), Moab Uranium Mill Tailings Remedial Action Project, and Oak Ridge all received honorable mentions in DOE’s Sustainability Awards program this year. The awards celebrate excellence in energy, water, waste, fleet, sustainable acquisition, and resilience, as well as achievements in projects representing exemplary sustainability practices.

EM has made substantial progress in efforts to comply with requirements aiming to make the federal government more sustainable and resilient to climate change, including large reductions in energy and water use and increased renewable energy use. The cleanup program also leads the Department in greenhouse gas reductions.

DOE honored Oak Ridge for an outstanding sustainability project after EM and cleanup contractor UCOR successfully achieved Vision 2020, becoming the first site in the world to remove an entire uranium enrichment complex by completing environmental cleanup at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP).

“We’re honored that our efforts at ETTP are being recognized by the Department,” Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management Manager Jay Mullis said. “Together with UCOR, we have achieved historic cleanup accomplishments, implemented environmentally conscious strategies, and transformed the site into a marketable community asset that is attracting new industry and economic development to the region.”

As a result of the Department’s largest-ever cleanup effort, Oak Ridge has transferred more than 1,200 acres of land and numerous buildings to the private sector for use in a multi-use industrial park. Three solar fields located there together produce an average of approximately 1.7 megawatts of electricity annually. Oak Ridge also placed 3,500 acres of land into conservancy for protection of wetlands, flora, and fauna.

Reuse and recycling have been central to the project. Over the last five years, more than 26.5 million pounds of demolition debris, 3 million pounds of scrap metal, 1.2 million pounds of paper and cardboard, 133,000 pounds of plastics, 95,000 pounds of electronics, and 235,000 pounds of universal waste were diverted from landfills.