UCOR announces last shipment of unusual K-25 wastes

Workers have finished shipping a stockpile of unusual classified, radioactive wastes from the East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site, federal cleanup contractor UCOR announced last week.

The waste was generated at the K-25 site more than a decade ago, and it was stored in Vault 1X at the K-25 Building, UCOR said. It required off-site disposal.

A press release said Vault 1X is located in a portion of the K-25 Building’s east wing that is not yet being demolished. That part of the building includes five units on the south end of the east wing. They are contaminated with technetium-99, a slow-decaying radioactive material, and further deactivation will be needed before that section can be demolished, the release said.

The press release said a cleanup team was put together in 2008 to characterize the types of wastes stored in Vault 1X as workers prepared to demolish the building. That information was used to decide how to dispose of the waste.

The release said much of the waste was separated, repackaged, and shipped to the Nevada National Security Site. East Tennessee Materials and Energy Corporation had a contract to treat the waste and dispose of it at NNSS.

The rest of the waste was packaged in 177 containers, and it required treatment before being disposed, the release said.

UCOR, a partnership between URS and CH2M Oak Ridge LLC, is the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge cleanup contractor.

“We ensured that the removal and transportation of this waste was done safely with a lot of collaboration among UCOR, M&EC, and DOE,” said Mark Ferri, UCOR K-25 project manager. “Removing these wastes brings us one step closer to being able to complete demolition of the facility.”

Later in the week, UCOR announced that they had finished demolition work on the east wing and were preparing to demolish the north end, the only other part of the building that remains standing.

The K-25 Building was a former gaseous diffusion facility built as part of the Manhattan Project, a top-secret effort to build the world’s first atomic bombs during World War II. The mile-long structure was shut down in the early 1960s.

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