Source: EM Update | Vol. 12, Issue 8; Contributor: Wayne McKinney | February 25, 2020

EM crews have started tearing down the second of four sections of the Centrifuge Complex at Oak Ridge’s East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), the latest step towards completion of major demolitions at the site this year.

Spanning 235,000 square feet and reaching 180 feet in height, the complex is the largest and tallest collection of structures remaining at ETTP. It 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.

Deactivation and demolition work in the first section of the complex was recently completed. That portion was a Manhattan Project facility built for research and development in 1944.


Workers have begun taking down the second of four sections of the Centrifuge Complex at Oak Ridge. Completing this project will move EM closer to its goal of finishing all major demolitions at the East Tennessee Technology Park by the end of the year.

Workers are now demolishing a nearly 83,000-square-foot section known as the Advanced Machine Development Laboratory and Component Preparation Laboratory. It was used from 1975 to 1985 to develop machines and manufacturing processes for centrifuges. More recently, it was leased by Materials and Energy Corporation for commercial waste operations and in support of processing DOE waste. That lease ended last year.

“Demolition of the first section has already created a significant landscape change,” said James Daffron, ETTP portfolio federal project director. “Removal of the entire complex will be one of the most visible skyline changes we’ve accomplished at the site, and it will bring us to the finish line of our goal to complete all major demolitions at ETTP this year.”

Getting the complex ready for demolition is a major effort involving a multi-faceted approach to remove hazards and ensure safe, efficient removal of the structure. Deactivation entails disconnecting all power and utilities, performing characterization and sampling, and removing asbestos and other waste. Crews also vented, purged, drained, and inspected piping and equipment to prepare it for disposal.


Workers begin taking down the K-1200 section of the Centrifuge Complex at Oak Ridge’s East Tennessee Technology Park.

Many pieces of equipment were removed prior to the start of demolition. Because the work is being conducted in separate sections, demolition can take place in physically separated and deactivated sections while deactivation continues in other sections of the complex.

EM and cleanup contractor UCOR are working together to remove all unneeded facilities and clean ETTP to transform the site into a multi-use industrial park, national park, and conservation area.

That vision has already started to become a reality. EM has transferred almost 1,300 acres at ETTP for economic development, with another 600 acres slated for transfer in the years ahead. EM has also set aside more than 100 acres for historic preservation and placed more than 3,000 acres in conservation for community recreational use.

Deactivation and demolition of all sections of the Centrifuge Complex is scheduled for completion this year.