Demolition work should be complete this month on K-27, the last of the big five buildings once used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons and commercial nuclear power plants at the former K-25 site in west Oak Ridge, officials said last week.
Demolition work started on K-27 in February.
Like the other four buildings that have already been demolished, the four-story, 383,000-square-foot K-27 building once used a process known as gaseous diffusion to enrich uranium.
The demolition is part of Vision 2016. That’s the plan by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management, or EM, to remove all five gaseous diffusion buildings from the site by the end of the year.
Federal officials said it’s the first time in the world that a uranium enrichment complex has been cleaned and removed.
The K-25 site has also been known as the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant, East Tennessee Technology Park, and Heritage Center.
A significant amount of work occurred inside K-27 during the two years before demolition began. Deactivation, which concluded in January, included removing hazardous and radioactive materials to ensure protection of workers, the public, and the environment; isolating utility systems; and ensuring structural stability. In addition, all materials that could cause a nuclear criticality were removed.
As of early June, demolition crews had produced more than 4,000 truckloads of debris from the K-27 work site that were shipped to an onsite disposal facility, known as the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility, or EMWMF, on Bear Creek Road west of the Y-12 National Security Complex.
The K-27 teardown follows successful demolition of four other uranium enrichment process buildings: K-29, K-33, K-31, and the mile-long K-25 building. All of these facilities once produced highly enriched uranium for national defense and commercial energy production.
The K-25 site was built during World War II as part of the Manhattan Project, a top-secret program to build the world’s first atomic weapons. The site enriched uranium for atomic weapons and commercial nuclear power plants through the Cold War. Operations ended in 1985, and the site was permanently shut down in 1987. Now, it is being slowly converted into a large industrial park.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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