Source: Knoxville News Sentinel | Brittany Crocker | September 20, 2017

A UCOR rendering of the Outfall 200 Mercury Treatment

A UCOR rendering of the Outfall 200 Mercury Treatment Facility. (Photo: Submitted by UCOR)

Oak Ridge cleanup contractor UCOR has awarded a $1.4 million contract to Knoxville-based GEM Technologies to prepare the site of Y-12 National Complex’s new Outfall 200 Mercury Treatment Facility.

The facility should dramatically reduce mercury concentrations leaving Y-12 through groundwater.

During the Cold War, Y-12 used mercury to separate lithium isotopes. Mercury flowed through pumps, pipes, valves and seals at high rates and sometimes dripped or spilled out. Pipe maintenance may also have introduced mercury into the environment.

Millions of pounds of mercury lost into environment

UCOR has estimated about 240,000 pounds of mercury were released from Y-12 directly to the Upper East Fork Poplar Creek from 1950 to 1982. The contractor estimates about 2 million pounds of mercury were lost to the environment.

To prepare the site, GEM Technologies will demolish existing but abandoned utilities and extend newer utilities, including electric, water, sewer, and storm drain lines to the future treatment facility sites. Workers preparing the site can also identify and address potential construction hazards as they arise.

Construction of the Outfall 200 Mercury Treatment Facility should begin near the end of next year.

The construction project is part of UCOR’s “Vision 2024,” to prepare Y-12 for large-scale demolition of Y-12’s contaminated excess facilities.

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