By Lamar Alexander
This week marked the end of an era. The last of the five uranium enrichment buildings in Oak Ridge has been cleaned up, making land available for new companies and new jobs coming to East Tennessee.
Tennessee should be extremely proud of the men and women who have worked for more than a decade to complete the demolition and cleanup at the East Tennessee Technology Park.
The story of how these buildings first came to be built is by now a familiar one. In 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt asked Senator Kenneth McKellar, the Tennessean who chaired the Appropriations Committee, to hide $2 billion for a secret project to win World War II. McKellar replied, “Mr. President, I have just one question: Where in Tennessee do you want me to hide it?”
They hid it in Oak Ridge, on 2,200 acres along the Clinch River, where they quietly built K-25, the largest building in the world, to enrich uranium through gaseous diffusion—a complicated and now mostly obsolete process. [Read more…]