The public is invited to walk through the future home of the K-25 History Center on Thursday, October 19.
The K-25 History Center will be built on the second floor of Oak Ridge’s Fire Station Number 4. The fire station is at East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site in west Oak Ridge.
The public walk-through is scheduled from 2-4 p.m. October 19.
The K-25 History Center is expected to help preserve the history of the World War II-era Manhattan Project. Oak Ridge was built during that top-secret project to help build the world’s first atomic weapons.
K-25 was one of three major federal sites built in the city that is now Oak Ridge as part of the Manhattan Project.
K-25’s signature facility, the K-25 Building, has been demolished. But a 2012 agreement that allowed the complete demolition of that building, once the world’s largest building under one roof, called for the history center at the fire station, among other projects.
The K-25 History Center is a project of the U.S. Department of Energy and UCOR, DOE’s cleanup contractor in Oak Ridge.
Earlier this year, DOE officials said construction could start this year on the K-25 History Center. It will be about 7,700 square feet, and it’s expected to include a theater, a gallery that changes, and exhibits that could include artifacts from K-25 and the Manhattan Project. It will be open to the public.
Projects depend upon funding, but the goal is to finish the work, including a three-story Equipment Building and 67-foot Viewing Tower, by 2019.
The three history-related facilities planned at K-25 will have three missions. The History Center will tell the story of the workers. The Equipment Building will focus on the technology. The Viewing Tower will show visitors the size of the site. All three facilities will be on the south side of the former mile-long, U-shaped K-25 Building.
K-25 used a process called gaseous diffusion to enrich uranium for atomic weapons and, later, for commercial nuclear power plants. Officials and contractors have said that K-25 helped win the Cold War.
Preserving its history is part of a Memorandum of Agreement that was signed in August 2012 and allowed for the complete demolition of K-25. The agreement allowed workers to demolish the North Tower at the K-25 Building, which historic preservationists had lobbied for years to save. In exchange for the complete demolition of K-25, the agreement called for the replica equipment building, the viewing tower, the history center at the fire station, an online virtual museum, and a $500,000 grant to buy and stabilize the historic Alexander Inn in central Oak Ridge, which has since been converted into an assisted living center.
The historic preservation work is expected to cost about $20 million total. That work will be done by DOE and its contractors. A bill approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee in July recommends $8 million for DOE for K-25 historic preservation work.
Oak Ridge, which was once known as Clinton Engineer Works, was the main production site for the Manhattan Project. Three major federal sites were built in Oak Ridge during World War II: K-25, X-10 (now Oak Ridge National Laboratory); and Y-12 (now the Y-12 National Security Complex).
Uranium enrichment facilities were built at K-25 and Y-12, and the pilot facility for plutonium production was built at the Graphite Reactor at ORNL. Uranium enriched in Oak Ridge fueled the first atomic bomb used in wartime. Code-named “Little Boy,” it was dropped over Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945, shortly before the end of the war.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
See previous story here.
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