Oak Ridge Research Park spring nature walks begin Sunday

Four nature walks hosted by the Oak Ridge Research Park are scheduled this spring in various areas of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Reservation.

The public is invited to join these walks, which showcase the rich flora and fauna diversity, as well as the sustainable management and conservation practices of the area.

The schedule for the spring nature walks is as follows: [Read more...]

K-25: Large, flat, close to ORNL, interstate—good for economic development

Gov. Bill Haslam Visits ETTP/K-25

Sue Cange gives Gov. Bill Haslam, right, an update on the almost-completed demolition of the mile-long, U-shaped K-25 Building. Cange is deputy manager of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management. Also pictured are Leo Sain, left, president of cleanup contractor UCOR, and Jeff Tucker, UCOR deactivation and decommissioning manager.

It was built during World War II to help enrich uranium for the world’s first atomic bombs. Then, it helped win the Cold War. Now, the former K-25 site in west Oak Ridge presents a giant opportunity for economic development in Tennessee, Gov. Bill Haslam said during a tour last Friday.

“We have a real interest in what happens here,” Haslam said in a short meeting with reporters before getting a brief update on the demolition of the former mile-long, U-shaped K-25 Building, which was once the world’s largest building under one roof.

The governor said the K-25 site, now known as East Tennessee Technology Park or Heritage Center, has 2,000 flat acres with infrastructure already in place, including roads and rails, and it’s three miles from Interstate 40 and seven miles from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the U.S. Department of Energy’s largest science and energy laboratory.

“We don’t have that opportunity in a lot of places,” Haslam said. “Finding 2,000 flat acres in East Tennessee is virtually impossible.” [Read more...]

NSPS finishes first year as DOE’s security contractor in Oak Ridge

Joe L. Evins Federal Building

National Strategic Protective Services LLC on Monday said it has completed the first year of its protective force services contract with the U.S. Department of Energy in Oak Ridge. Among the facilities guarded by NSPS are the Joe L. Evins Federal Building, pictured above.

National Strategic Protective Services LLC on Monday said it has completed the first year of its protective force services contract with the U.S. Department of Energy in Oak Ridge.

“Congratulations to everyone at NSPS for a job well done,” NSPS President Ignacio Balderas said in a press release. “A lot of hard work went into winning and transitioning this critical infrastructure contract in early 2013. During the course of the past 12 months, we have built a solid relationship with DOE, established high morale within our employee base, fostered productive labor relations and above all, engaged proactively with the Oak Ridge community.

NSPS is a joint venture of Triple Canopy Inc. and Securiguard Inc. The company provides protective force services to the East Tennessee Technology Park, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Joe L. Evins Federal Building. NSPS replaced former longtime security contractor WSI Oak Ridge in 2013 following an unprecedented security breach at the Y-12 National Security Complex in July 2012. [Read more...]

Gov. Haslam in Oak Ridge on Friday to discuss development, DOE cleanup

Governor Bill Haslam

Bill Haslam

Gov. Bill Haslam will be in Oak Ridge on Friday morning to discuss the U.S. Department of Energy’s environmental cleanup program and how it is enabling economic development in East Tennessee.

The government will meet with officials at the East Tennessee Technology Park and will also meet with reporters.

Oak Ridge Reservation’s emergency sectors to change

TEMA realigns boundaries to improve response

The Tennessee Emergency Management Agency will issue revised emergency sectors for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Reservation on Wednesday. These sectors, labeled A-Y, determine which areas should take action if an event occurs at one of DOE’s sites locally. The new sector boundaries have improved correlation with roads, waterways, and recognizable landmarks.

“Knowing their emergency sectors will help residents better understand what to do when directed to take action by state or local emergency officials. Instructions pertaining to their safety will be issued by sector,” said Jim Bassham, TEMA director. “Periodic updates to emergency plans, like these changes, are part of TEMA’s normal review process.”

DOE and TEMA have been partners in a public information campaign aimed at the more than 50,000 people that live or work within a five-mile radius of Oak Ridge’s three main sites: the Y-12 National Security Complex, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and East Tennessee Technology Park. An updated version of a joint publication, “What to do if an emergency occurs on the Oak Ridge Reservation,” will be available on March 12. The booklet will be on DOE’s website for area residents to read and reference at http://science.energy.gov/isc/emergency-information/. [Read more...]

UT hosts top nuclear engineering students, who meet Oak Ridge reps

KNOXVILLE—Some of the best and brightest undergraduate students from around the United States gathered at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville recently for the chance to meet top experts in the field of nuclear engineering, including representatives from federal sites in Oak Ridge.

“This area really is the birthplace of a lot of activities related to nuclear engineering,” said Wesley Hines, head of UT’s Department of Nuclear Engineering, which sponsors the annual event. “Some of these kids don’t realize all of the nuclear-related opportunities that exist here until they do this program. What we hope to achieve is to let people see all that is possible, all that is already in place when they come here.”

The sessions gave prospective graduate students a chance to mingle with some of the biggest names in nuclear research and energy, including from the Y-12 National Security Complex, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the UCOR facilities at the East Tennessee Technology Park, and Tennessee Valley Authority, as well as with UT faculty and students.  [Read more...]

DOE commits to three-year, $4.5 million groundwater study in Oak Ridge

Daniel Goode and SSAB Groundwater Strategy Presentation

Daniel J. Goode, a research hydrologist for the U.S. Geological Survey, briefs members of the Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board on a new groundwater strategy for the Oak Ridge Reservation.

The U.S. Department of Energy has agreed to spend $4.5 million during the next three years to study groundwater contamination on the Oak Ridge Reservation.

The reservation includes three federal sites—East Tennessee Technology Park, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Y-12 National Security Complex—that have been involved in missions ranging from scientific research to uranium enrichment to nuclear weapons work. That work has sometimes included the use of hazardous substances such as mercury and technetium-99, a slow-decaying radioactive metal.

The $4.5 million in funding will help implement a new groundwater strategy developed by DOE with help from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The strategy, which was presented to the Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board in November, will help guide future cleanup decisions, said Sue Cange, deputy manager for environmental management in DOE’s Oak Ridge Office. [Read more...]

Federal agents investigate DOE subcontractor based in Oliver Springs

Federal Agents at TOPS in Oliver Springs

On Thursday, federal agents investigate the Oliver Springs offices of TOPS, a U.S. Department of Energy subcontractor.

Note: This story was updated at 9:45 a.m. Jan. 17.

OLIVER SPRINGS—A federal subcontractor that works at U.S. Department of Energy sites in Oak Ridge is under investigation by several federal agencies, including the FBI, IRS, and DOE Office of Inspector General.

Federal agents were at the Oliver Springs headquarters of the contractor, TOPS, on Thursday, but officials would not comment on the investigation. The office is on Winter Gap Road, next to Highway 62 just north of downtown Oliver Springs.

Dennis Holenstein at the IRS’ Nashville Field Office confirmed that agents from IRS Criminal Investigations were assisting with the investigation, but he referred a reporter to the DOE Office of Inspector General. The IG, in turn, referred calls to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Tennessee. The U.S. Attorney’s Office said its policy is to neither comment on, nor confirm or deny, the existence or status of a pending investigation.

[Read more...]

K-25 workers also shelter in place during police search

K-25 Aerial

Now demolished, the former K-25 Building at the East Tennessee Technology Park in west Oak Ridge is pictured above. (Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy)

Workers at the East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site, were asked to shelter in place for about 30 minutes early Thursday afternoon as police officers searched for an armed person who had been reported to be traveling from the Clinton area to west Oak Ridge.

It was the same search that led to a brief lockdown at Jefferson Middle School at about 1 p.m. Thursday, said Mike Koentop, U.S. Department of Energy spokesman in the Oak Ridge Office.

“It was not related at all to any DOE activity,” Koentop said. “Steps were taken as a precaution.” [Read more...]

New security contractor for DOE Oak Ridge receives ‘commendable’ rating

Joe L. Evins Federal Building

The Joe L. Evins Federal Building is one of three federal facilities protected by National Strategic Protective Services LLC in Oak Ridge.

The new security contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy in Oak Ridge has received a “commendable” rating for its performance protecting federal facilities.

National Strategic Protective Services LLC, a joint venture of Triple Canopy Inc. and Securiguard Inc., provides protective force services at the East Tennessee Technology Park, Joe L. Evins Federal Building, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

“DOE recognized NSPS for its ability to quickly adapt and respond to customer needs while seamlessly assuming responsibility as the Oak Ridge protective force services provider in March 2013,” a press release said. [Read more...]

ETEC presents 2013 Muddy Boot Awards

On Friday, the East Tennessee Economic Council named three new recipients of the Muddy Boot Award: Bill Biloski, Ray Smith, and Barry Stephenson.

The Muddy Boot Award is a tribute to people who, through their work and community activities, make East Tennessee a stronger region.

Also Friday, ETEC presented two Postma Young Professional Medals to husband and wife Colin and Sherith Colverson.

The council’s annual celebratory event was keynoted by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam. [Read more...]

K-25 Building demolition nears completion

K-25 Building Demolition

Workers continue demolishing and hauling away debris at the K-25 Building. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Energy/UCOR)

Demolition of the last standing section of the K-25 Building at the East Tennessee Technology Park is more than 75 percent complete.

UCOR workers began tearing down the last six units in the east wing of the mile-long Manhattan Project-era gaseous diffusion building in September. The majority of those six units—4.5 of them—are already on the ground, and work is continuing at a steady pace, the U.S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge Office reported in the December issue of Public Involvement News.

The entire project, including waste removal, should be completed next year, the Oak Ridge Office said.

The historic, U-shaped K-25 Building was erected to enrich uranium for atomic bombs during World War II, and it was once the world’s largest building under one roof. It once had 54 units. [Read more...]