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.
A small portion of the facility’s east wing remains, the release said. It contains a slow-decaying radioactive isotope called technetium-99 and requires further deactivation, which involves removal of the higher-risk contaminated items. The deactivation is taking place at the same time as the transite removal.
The release said transite is a known asbestos-containing material and must be removed prior to demolition to meet environmental regulatory requirements. Workers will remove more than 2,800 panels, measuring eight feet by four feet each, from the 60-foot-tall structure.
UCOR officials expect to finish the transite removal work in August, and demolition will begin this fall. The demolition will be completed next year.
“Removal of the transite panels is one of the final steps before demolition takes place,” said Steve Dahlgren, UCOR deactivation and demolition area project manager. “Our workforce has a commitment to safety and this is reflected in their strong safety performance in all aspects of their work. Safe completion of the transite removal will bring us one step closer to wrapping up the largest-ever demolition project in the Department of Energy complex.”
Demolition of the K-25 Building began in late 2008 with demolition of the U-shaped building’s west wing. Demolition of most of the east wing followed, and earlier this year, workers brought down the building’s north end, which formed the base of the facility’s U shape.
UCOR is a partnership between URS and CH2M Oak Ridge LLC. The company is DOE’s Environmental Management contractor at the Oak Ridge Reservation and responsible for deactivation and demolition of the K-25 facility, as well as other environmental cleanup work at East Tennessee Technology Park (e.g., K-27 and K-31 facilities), the Y-12 National Security Complex, and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.