DOE offers expanded public bus tours of federal sites in Oak Ridge

DOE Public Bus Tour

Public bus tours of the U.S. Department of Energy’s facilities in Oak Ridge are now offered nine months of the year. (File photo courtesy DOE/Lynn Freeny)


The U.S. Department of Energy’s public bus tour of federal sites in Oak Ridge is now offered to visitors nine months out of the year, versus only summer months as in the past.

This popular tour of the 33,000-acre DOE Oak Ridge Reservation offers visitors a first-hand look at all of the DOE’s Oak Ridge facilities and provides historical commentary on the transformation of the Oak Ridge Reservation during the past 70-plus years.

The reservation-wide tour is a popular attraction for tourists visiting the area.  Since its inception in 1996, the DOE public tour program has attracted approximately 35,000 visitors from all 50 states. The three-hour DOE tour allows visitors to see the DOE Oak Ridge Reservation and learn about its rich history and how Oak Ridge became a secret city of 75,000 people with a mission to end World War II. [Read more…]

Kevin Hall named DOE Oak Ridge Office manager

Kevin Hall

Kevin Hall

The U.S. Department of Energy has named Kevin Hall as the manager of its Oak Ridge Office. Hall has served as the office’s deputy manager since April 2013.

As manager, Hall oversees the Oak Ridge Integrated Support Center, which provides critical mission support services in the personnel, finance, budget, procurement, legal, security, and emergency management, and employee health and safety on a local and national level, a press release said.

Hall is also responsible for managing the 33,500-acre Oak Ridge Reservation. This function involves managing issues that impact areas surrounding Oak Ridge National Laboratory, East Tennessee Technology Park, and National Nuclear Security Administration Production Office, and leading projects that may affect multiple sites. [Read more…]

Five more spring nature walks planned on Oak Ridge Reservation

Five more nature walks are planned this spring on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Reservation with themes of frog calls and bat monitoring, wildflowers and forest growth, bird watching, invasive plants, reptiles, and amphibians.

The frog calls and bat monitoring walk is scheduled from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday, April 4, and will be concentrated in the ponds around East Tennessee Technology Park. Wade Gefellers and Kitty McCracken of ORNL’s Environmental Sciences Division will demonstrate how local bat populations are monitored and methods to identify local frog populations based on calls. Participants, limited to 25 with children allowed, will meet at the ETTP visitors overlook parking lot at 7 p.m. [Read more…]

K-25 historic preservation the subject of Thursday lecture

K-25 Footprint

A view of the K-25 footprint. (Image courtesy Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association)


The project to preserve the history of the former K-25 Building, once the world’s largest building under one roof, will be discussed during a Thursday evening lecture in Oak Ridge.

It’s the opening of the 18th Annual Dick Smyser Community Lecture Series. It’s jointly sponsored by Friends of ORNL and the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association.

The presentation will provide an update on the K-25 historic preservation efforts by the U.S. Department of Energy Environmental Management, a press release said. [Read more…]

New DOE landfill could cost $1 billion, including construction, operations

Oak Ridge Reservation with Bear Creek Valley

But it could also save $1 billion through on-site disposal, officials say

A new landfill that would hold waste from cleanup work at federal sites in Oak Ridge could cost $1 billion, a project manager said Wednesday. That start-to-finish estimate includes construction and 23 years of operations.

But federal officials said the new landfill could save $1 billion in on-site versus off-site costs. That’s because the waste would be disposed on site and wouldn’t have to be shipped out of town, possibly to other states such as Nevada and Utah.

Saving money through on-site disposal could, in turn, accelerate the cleanup work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and Y-12 National Security Complex, said Laura Wilkerson, federal project director for the Y-12 National Security Complex in the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management.

The new landfill, the Environmental Management Disposal Facility, would be built on Bear Creek Road west of the Y-12 National Security Complex near another landfill that is already in use and has been operating since 2002. [Read more…]

Cange named cleanup manager at DOE Oak Ridge

Gov. Bill Haslam Visits ETTP/K-25

During a March 2014 tour, Sue Cange, center, gives Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam, right, an update on the then-almost completed demolition of the K-25 Building, which was once used to enrich uranium in west Oak Ridge. (File photo)


The U.S. Department of Energy announced Thursday that Sue Cange will serve as the new manager for DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management, Congressman Chuck Fleischmann said.

“Sue has a strong background in environmental management and has done a great job as acting manager,” said Fleischmann, a Tennessee Republican. “I look forward to continuing to work with her on nuclear cleanup in Oak Ridge.”

Fleischmann is chair of the Nuclear Cleanup Caucus, a group of lawmakers who have U.S. Department of Energy cleanup sites in their districts. Fleischmann’s district includes Oak Ridge. [Read more…]

Manhattan Project National Historical Park to be discussed at Altrusa meeting Wednesday

Ray Smith

Ray Smith

The Manhattan Project National Historical Park will be the focus of the Wednesday luncheon meeting of Altrusa International of Oak Ridge.

Ray Smith, Y-12 National Security Complex historian, will be discussing the honor and importance in having a national park site in Oak Ridge, a press release said. Smith’s presentation will include the potential implications of a national park site in Oak Ridge as well as the probable timeframe for implementation of the national park bill, the release said.

Smith will be covering the potential meaning of the park for the City of Oak Ridge, the American Museum of Science and Energy, the Y-12 National Security Complex Calutrons, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Graphite Reactor, and the East Tennessee Technology Park’s Heritage Center K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Building site. Smith will also discuss how the newly renovated Guest House at the Alexander Inn in Oak Ridge might contribute to the overall national park strategy. [Read more…]

DOE Oak Ridge environmental management employees retire

Eddie Holden

Eddie Holden

Two U. S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) employees retired last month after a combined 34 years of federal service.

Eddie Holden, a traffic management specialist for the Facilities Operations Division at OREM, retired on December 31 with 10 years of federal service.

Holden oversaw transportation activities for the agency, leading the effort to maintain compliance and keep hazardous materials off public roads and was responsible for the Haul Road Transportation Program, a press release said. He played a critical role in the development of DOE’s Radio Frequency Identification Transportation System, used for paperless shipments and electronic tracking of vehicles, which cuts costs and improves security. [Read more…]

Former Wackenhut security officer indicted for theft of public funds

KNOXVILLE—A federal grand jury in Knoxville has indicted a former security officer at a federal site in Oak Ridge for allegedly stealing U.S. government property and money laundering, officials said Thursday.

Sarah Parker, 52, of Dandridge, Tennessee, was indicted Tuesday, U.S. Attorney William C. Killian said in a press release. Parker was employed as an officer for security contractor Wackenhut Services Inc. at the East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site in Oak Ridge.

She appeared in court on Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley Jr. and pleaded not guilty to the charges in the three-count indictment, Killian said. She was released pending trial, which has been set for February 17, 2015, in United States District Court in Knoxville. [Read more…]

U.S. House passes Manhattan Project park bill that includes Oak Ridge

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander

Lamar Alexander

U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann

Chuck Fleischmann

Note: This story was last updated at 8:30 p.m.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that would create a Manhattan Project National Historical Park that would include Oak Ridge, federal officials said Thursday afternoon.

Passage of the bill, pursued for years by historic preservationists, was announced by U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander and Representative Chuck Fleischmann, both Tennessee Republicans. It was an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, which passed in a 300-119 vote.

The bill would designate three sites that were part of the World War II-era Manhattan Project. Besides Oak Ridge, the sites include Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Hanford, Washington. The U.S. Senate is expected to pass the 2015 NDAA legislation without amendments before adjourning for the Christmas recess, perhaps as early as next week, according to the Atomic Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that has helped lead efforts to establish the park for more than a decade.

The Manhattan Project was a top-secret federal program to build the world’s first atomic bombs. Oak Ridge sites that would be included in the park are the Beta-3 racetracks and Alpha Calutron magnets at Y-12 National Security Complex and the K-25 Building site at the East Tennessee Technology Park. [Read more…]

DOE comment period on K-33 land transfer ends Thursday

ETTP ED11 and K-33 Notice of Document Availability Oak Ridge, TN

The public comment period for the transfer of about 136 acres at the East Tennessee Technology Park (the former K-25 site) ends Thursday, October 23.

The U.S. Department of Energy has proposed transferring the land, known as the Former K-33 Area at the ETTP Heritage Center, for mixed-use economic development purposes.

The Former K-33 area is located in the northwest portion of the Heritage Center and includes the site of the now-demolished K-33 Building. No buildings are included in the transfer. [Read more…]

DOE to begin Building K-31 demolition on Wednesday

K-31 Transite Panel Removal

Workers began removing transite paneling from the outside of the K-31 Building at East Tennessee Technology Park earlier this year. (May 2014 DOE Photo/Lynn Freeny)


The U.S. Department of Energy will start demolishing Building K-31 at the East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site, on Wednesday afternoon, and reporters have been invited to witness the beginning of the work.

The event is meant to provides participants, including senior DOE and contractor leadership, a “firsthand look at the continuing cleanup and transformation at the East Tennessee Technology Park,” a media advisory said.

The K-25 site was built to enrich uranium for atomic bombs during the top-secret Manhattan Project in World War II. It’s been shut down since the mid-1980s, and ETTP is slowly being converted into a large industrial park.

More information will be added as it becomes available.