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.”
Among the accomplishments he cited was the deactivation and decommissioning of the K-25 Building, one of the nation’s largest deactivation and decommissioning projects. The building is nearly on the ground, Sain said.
And UCOR has begun pre-demolition work in K-27 significantly ahead of schedule, he said.
Sain said UCOR has disposed of more than 120,000 cubic yards of waste while safely traveling over 1.5 million miles. The company has handled and disposed of almost 25,000 shipments of waste at the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility and Oak Ridge Reservation landfills combined. In addition, UCOR has completed closure of the TSCA (Toxic Substances Control Act) incinerator, Sain said.
Still, Sain reminded employees to stay focused and disciplined.
“No matter how good our performance is, we are only one inattentive moment away from an accident that could hurt someone—or worse—and bring all our good work to a screeching halt,” he said. “More distractions are coming. It’s just the nature of our work.”
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, the Y-12 National Security Complex, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
UCOR began working at ETTP, the former K-25 site, in August 2011. K-25 was built as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project during World War II to enrich uranium for atomic weapons through gaseous diffusion. It was shut down in 1964, and all enrichment operations ceased at the plant in the mid-1980s. K-25 was a mile-long, U-shaped building, and it was once the world’s largest building under one roof.