Source: The Oak Ridger | Opinion, Special to the Oak Ridger by Harold Conner | August 5, 2021
The East Tennessee Technology Park’s (ETTP) latest tenant, Kairos Power, is investing $100 million to build a low-power reactor demonstration project, an innovative job-creating initiative that underscores once again the value of the Department of Energy’s long-term mission to clean up the former gaseous diffusion plant site known as K-25.
Using a small, lower power reactor, Kairos is responding to the national quest for clean, lower cost electrical energy on a 185-acre parcel at ETTP that previously housed two massive uranium enrichment buildings that were demolished. I’m excited to hear that the project is scheduled for operation in 2026 and will create 55 jobs. This is excellent news for our community!
For me, Kairos Power’s decision to locate at ETTP is personally satisfying, My career in the nuclear industry began as a young co-op student at K-25, advanced into operating and managing those facilities, and more recently led to a role in the first-ever demolition of a complete gaseous diffusion complex, making way for a new, private-sector industrial park.
As a former long-time manager of the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant, I have witnessed this historic site come full circle. The hard work of highly skilled men and women over decades has transformed the site from its original secretive national security mission to a thriving industrial park that is creating new jobs and contributing to our economy and quality of life.
ETTP is the perfect home for this exciting new venture. In many ways, companies like Kairos are the reason ETTP exists. It offers the full complement of attributes many industries require — located close to transportation routes with an abundant supply of water and electricity, adequate land buffer, security, and a wealth of knowledge about its soil and groundwater. The site is also close to the innovation and talent of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and the Y-12 National Security Complex.