Source: EM Update | Vol. 13, Issue 11; Contributor: Ben Williams | March 23, 2021

p EM crews recently began demolishing the last facility standing in the former Biology Complex at the Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12) at Oak Ridge.

Removal of the massive six-story, 255,000-square-foot Building 9207 creates a new chapter of transformation and modernization for Y-12. Completion of the Biology Complex demolition is one of EM’s 2021 priorities.

“It’s rewarding to see the immediate impact of our projects,” Oak Ridge Office of EM Manager Jay Mullis said. “Our earlier efforts converted a former enrichment complex into a multi-use industrial park that is providing new economic opportunities to the region. Now, our work is clearing away hazards and old infrastructure to ensure DOE’s sites remain at the forefront of their respective fields to meet the needs of this nation.”

EM’s latest cleanup phase, now underway, involves addressing hundreds of excess, contaminated, and deteriorating facilities scattered throughout Y-12 and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory that present hazards and occupy land that can be used for future research and national security missions.

Removal of the Biology Complex is the most significant skyline change of this new era, and it is the first of many EM projects to clear away former Manhattan Project and Cold War buildings.

The facilities in the Biology Complex presented significant structural risks due to their deterioration, and their condition landed them on DOE’s list of high-risk excess contaminated facilities. EM has been working steadily to remove the structures to enhance safety and provide land for national security missions at the site.

The Building 9207 teardown comes only weeks after EM and cleanup contractor UCOR completed demolition on the three-story, 65,000-square-foot Building 9210.

“Our team is highly trained to remove the kinds of hazards that are in Building 9207,” UCOR President and CEO Ken Rueter said. “Their high level of training and expertise, and their dedication to safety, made it possible for us to take down the adjacent structure, Building 9210, in just a couple of months. Although this building is much larger, we anticipate having it on the ground by this summer.”

The Biology Complex, which dates back to the 1940s, was originally comprised of 11 buildings. It was initially constructed for recovering uranium from process streams, but it was later used for research that led to strides in understanding genetics and the effects of radiation. When operational, the facilities once housed more individuals with doctorates than anywhere in the world.