URS names new UCOR president, project manager

Ken Rueter

Ken Rueter

URS Corporation has named new leaders at UCOR in Oak Ridge and SRR at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

Ken Rueter has been named president and project manager of UCOR, a partnership between URS and CH2M Oak Ridge LLC. The URS-led consortium is responsible for the cleanup of the U.S. Department of Energy’s East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site, in Oak Ridge.

Rueter will become president and project manager on Aug. 1. He will replace Leo Sain, who will lead the URS Decontamination and Decommissioning and Waste Management Strategic Business Group, which is based in Oak Ridge.

“Ken’s prior leadership in UCOR’s successful deactivation and decommissioning of the K-25 facility will be invaluable as we continue the D&D of the K-27 and K-31 gaseous diffusion facilities,” said Randall A. Wotring, president of federal services for URS. “I am confident he will build on the UCOR team’s recent accomplishments as well as his previous experiences at the East Tennessee Technology Park to ensure we continue to make safe progress for our DOE client.”

In a press release, URS said Rueter has 26 years of experience in the nuclear industry focusing on high-hazard nuclear operations, project management and integration, construction, and risk management. In his new assignment, he will be the senior executive for UCOR responsible for all deactivation and decommissioning (D&D) activities at the East Tennessee Technology Park. He was previously president and project manager of Savannah River Remediation LLC, or SRR, and prior to his role there, he was the chief operating officer for UCOR. [Read more...]

Demolition begins on last section of historic K-25 Building

K-25 East Wing Demolition

Workers begin demolishing the last section of the K-25 building on Tuesday. K-25 was built to enrich uranium for atomic bombs during World War II and was once the world’s largest building under one roof, but it’s been unused for decades. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Energy/UCOR)

Demolition work began Tuesday on the last section of the historic K-25 Building, which was erected to enrich uranium for atomic bombs during World War II and was once the world’s largest building under one roof.

Most of the building, which is in west Oak Ridge, has already been demolished. Only a small section of the east wing remains at the former mile-long, U-shaped building.

K-25 was built during the top-secret Manhattan Project in World War II to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons through a process known as gaseous diffusion. Those operations ended in 1964. [Read more...]

UCOR celebrates two years in Oak Ridge

Leo Sain at K-25

Leo Sain, president and project manager for cleanup contractor UCOR, near the east wing of the mostly demolished K-25 Building, built to enrich uranium during World War II and also used during the Cold War.

It’s been two years since UCOR, the federal government’s cleanup contractor in Oak Ridge, started working in the Secret City.

UCOR president Leo Sain celebrated with an Aug. 1 letter to employees that thanked them but also issued a reminder and challenge. Read the letter here.

Sain said he is very proud of the workforce—he called the company’s performance spectacular—and said work has been done safely, under budget, and ahead of schedule.

“At the end of two years, we’re one of the safest sites in the U.S. Department of Energy complex,” Sain said. “The credit for that goes entirely to you, the workforce, for staying focused on your work through all the distractions and changing hazards that come with the tasks we perform.” [Read more...]

Letter: UCOR celebrates two years in Oak Ridge

Leo Sain at K-25

Leo Sain, president and project manager for cleanup contractor UCOR, near the east wing of the mostly demolished K-25 Building, which was built to enrich uranium during World War II.

Note: This is an edited copy of a letter that UCOR President Leo Sain sent to company employees on Aug. 1.

To All UCOR Employees:

As we begin our third year on the job here at East Tennessee Technology Park, I want to thank everyone for an outstanding two years.

I am so very proud of this workforce. Our performance has been truly spectacular in every way. K-25, one of our nation’s largest deactivation and decommissioning projects, is nearly on the ground, and we’ve begun pre-demolition work in K-27 significantly ahead of schedule. We’ve disposed of over 120,000 cubic yards of waste while safely traveling over 1.5 million miles. [Read more...]

Transite panels being removed from last part of K-25 Building

K-25 Transite Removal

More than 2,800 transite panels will be removed from the remainder of the K-25 Building. (Submitted photo)

A federal cleanup contractor in Oak Ridge is removing exterior panels known as transite panels from the last part of the K-25 Building that is still standing.

K-25 was built to enrich uranium for atomic bombs during World War II and was once the world’s largest building under one roof. It’s been unused for decades and is being torn down.

Most of the mile-long former gaseous diffusion building, located at East Tennessee Technology Park, has been demolished. About two million square feet of the U-shaped building have been removed, according to a Thursday press release from UCOR, the cleanup contractor for the U.S. Department of Energy in Oak Ridge. [Read more...]

Eight firms show interest in designing ETTP museum

ETTP After Cleanup

An artist’s rendering of what the East Tennessee Technology Park could look like after cleanup and historic preservation activities are completed. (Image courtesy of U.S. Department of Energy/UCOR)

The pre-qualification window for companies to bid on the professional site design for a museum at the East Tennessee Technology Park closed in February. Eight firms that specialize in museum planning and exhibit design responded to the pre-qualification request.

Planning for the museum is one of several activities under way to commemorate ETTP’s history, including a history center located on the second floor of the Oak Ridge Fire Station and an observation tower overlooking the K-25 Building footprint.

The museum will house artifact and historic materials removed from the K-25 Building, which was built during World War II as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project, a federal program to build the world’s first atomic weapons. The building and ETTP, often referred to as the K-25 site, were also used to enrich uranium after the war.

[Read more...]

UCOR: Highest-risk components safely removed from K-27

NaF Trap Removed at K-27

Ernie Gunter, left, and Michael Shirks watch as a NaF trip is lifted through the roof of K-27. (Submitted photos)

UCOR has removed the highest-risk components remaining in the K-27 building at East Tennessee Technology Park, a press release said.

Six components known as NaF, or sodium fluoride, traps have been removed by crane, the press release said.

The K-27 building is a “sister” to the mile-long K-25 gaseous diffusion process building, which is now nearly demolished, the release said. Both are Manhattan Project buildings built to produce materials for nuclear weapons. As work is completed at K-25, crews are shifting to K-27.

[Read more...]

Ferri retires, UCOR organization changing

Mark Ferri

Mark Ferri

Jeff Bradford

Jeff Bradford

Mark Ferri, who has led the safe, successful deactivation and demolition work at K-25 since UCOR arrived in Oak Ridge in August 2011, has announced that he will retire from the company at the end of February and will accept a CH2M Hill corporate opportunity in the United Kingdom.

Ferri was part of UCOR’s original, handpicked leadership team. His selection proved a wise one, as progress under his leadership has been stellar. Workers have demolished more than two million square feet of the old gaseous diffusion facility, and more than 15,000 loads of waste have been shipped under the “pack as you go” philosophy that he and his counterpart, Waste Management Manager Jeff Bradford, installed as part of the UCOR way of doing business.

[Read more...]

Forty-one workers laid off at ETTP, the former K-25 site

Note: This story was updated at 8:04 p.m.

Forty-one employees have been laid off at the East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site, a spokesperson said Thursday.

Thirty-five employees worked on the K-25 Building demolition, and six worked on the K-27 project, said Wayne McKinney, spokesperson for UCOR, the U.S. Department of Energy’s cleanup contractor in Oak Ridge.

McKinney said the employees, who worked for subcontractors, were notified of the layoffs Thursday. He said it’s part of the normal ebb and flow of subcontracting.

[Read more...]