Source: EM Update | Vol. 13, Issue 35; Contributor: Wayne McKinney | September 7, 2021

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A view of the former Centrifuge Complex area following demolition, slab removal, excavation, and backfilling. The facility’s footprint falls in the area for a proposed regional airport planned at East Tennessee Technology Park.

It once housed one of the tallest, most visible buildings at East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), but now the site of the former Centrifuge Complex is cleared and ready for industrial development.

The complex was one of the final collections of buildings to be demolished last year as workers completed the first-ever cleanup of a former uranium enrichment complex.

Left behind from the cleanup was a large concrete slab spanning more than 5 acres. Workers with EM Oak Ridge cleanup contractor UCOR recently finished removing the slab and backfilling the site. The facility’s footprint falls in the area of a proposed regional airport planned for ETTP.

UCOR used nearly 5,500 trucks to bring in approximately 65,000 cubic yards of backfill soil to complete restoration of the area. More than 30,000 cubic yards of the soil came from another area of ETTP. Using that soil as backfill rather than purchasing it saved $200,000. The site will remain a grassy field until it is redeveloped.

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An aerial view of the Centrifuge Complex before demolition. EM completed removal of the sprawling 235,000-square-foot complex at East Tennessee Technology Park in July 2020.

“Removal of these structures was an important step forward in completing ETTP cleanup, and now removal of the slab and restoration of the site is another significant step in transformation of the site into a multi-use industrial park,” said James Daffron, Oak Ridge acting ETTP portfolio federal project director.

The complex was built in stages to develop, test, and demonstrate the capability of centrifuge technology for uranium enrichment. The last of these facilities ceased operation in the mid-1980s.

“With 26,000 cubic yards of reinforced concrete and asphalt removed, and 65,000 cubic yards of soil placed, UCOR is proud that it’s skilled workforce has been a key part of this successful project,” said Hoss Brown, UCOR Heritage Center enterprise manager. “They are a valuable and irreplaceable part of the DOE mission to repurpose the ETTP site.”

The project marks another step toward accomplishing EM’s cleanup responsibilities at ETTP and finishing the site’s transition to a multi-use industrial park.

EM has transferred approximately 1,300 acres to the community for economic development, and that land houses 20 private businesses, with more announcing plans to locate there. More than 3,000 acres at the site are set aside for conservation, and ETTP also has a history center and a component of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park.