One month after a historic preservation agreement was signed, a federal cleanup contractor announced Friday that it has completed demolition work on the east wing of the K-25 Building and is preparing to demolish the north end.
Historic preservationists had lobbied for years to save the north end, but its deteriorated condition made that option unfeasible, a press release said.
The U.S. Department of Energy signed an agreement with historic preservation groups last month that allowed the north end to be demolished.
UCOR, DOE’s cleanup contractor in Oak Ridge, announced the completion of demolition work on K-25’s east wing—and preparation for demolition of the north end—in a press release Friday afternoon.
The K-25 Building is located at East Tennessee Technology Park in west Oak Ridge. It’s a former gaseous diffusion plant built to enrich uranium as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project during World War II.
The mile-long structure was shut down in the early 1960s. It was composed of three major sections—the east and west wings and the north end aligned in a “U” shape. The north end forms the base of the “U” and is the smallest of the three sections.
“This is a day we’ve been working towards for quite some time,” said Jim Kopotic, federal project director for ETTP cleanup. “It is a major achievement, and our team will maintain its momentum and continue towards our goal of completing the demolition of the K-25 Building.”
The north end is the only part of the building left standing, with the exception of a small section of the east wing that requires further deactivation before demolition. The remaining section of the east wing is contaminated with technetium-99, a slow-decaying radioactive metal, the press release said.
“The ETTP landscape is changing dramatically as this massive structure is steadily demolished,” said Mark Ferri, K-25 Project Manager for UCOR. “Although this portion of history is disappearing, UCOR and DOE have successfully worked with local preservation groups to ensure that the site’s significant contributions to ending World War II are not forgotten.”
In addition to deactivating and demolishing the K-25 Building, UCOR is responsible for other work at ETTP, the Y-12 National Security Complex, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.