One of the most contaminated buildings left at the East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site, has been demolished, federal officials said.
Demolition crews began tearing down Building K-633, which was once used to evaluate uranium enrichment equipment, in May and completed the project in June, according to the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management.
The work was done by the Oak Ridge environmental management, or EM, program and its cleanup contractor URS|CH2M Oak Ridge, or UCOR.
“This project eliminates one of the most contaminated remaining buildings at the East Tennessee Technology Park,” DOE said.
Building K-633—the K-633 Test Loop Facility—is the fourth building Oak Ridge’s EM program has removed from ETTP’s Poplar Creek area since last year, DOE said.
“Prior to those teardowns, this area contained 11 large buildings and numerous structures built in the 1940s and 1950s to support the site’s former nuclear program and operations,” officials said. “The Poplar Creek area contains the most contaminated facilities left at the site, following the demolition of five massive gaseous diffusion uranium enrichment buildings.”
“Significant cleanup efforts are underway in ETTP’s Poplar Creek area,” said Acting ETTP Portfolio Federal Project Director Karen Deacon. “We began demolition last year, and the area already looks drastically different. The latest completion moves us closer to achieving our goal to finish the Poplar Creek area demolitions by the end of next year.”
The building consisted of four separate and independent testing loops. The first three loops were built to test and evaluate gaseous diffusion equipment performance under production conditions. The final loop was installed in 1981 to evaluate prototype equipment designed for gas centrifuge enrichment. DOE ultimately shut down the 18,100-square-foot facility in 1984.
The radiological contaminants in the building were affixed inside piping and equipment using fixatives and foam, allowing for safe demolition of the structure, DOE said.
“The goal for EM and UCOR is to transform the old government-owned uranium enrichment complex into a thriving privately owned industrial park,” the Department of Energy said. “To date, EM has torn down more than 400 facilities and transferred more than 1,000 acres.”
The next facility slated for demolition at ETTP is the Toxic Substances Control Act Incinerator, and that work is expected to begin soon, DOE said.
ETTP, the former K-25 site, is in west Oak Ridge. K-25 was built to help enrich uranium as part of the Manhattan Project during World War II. That was a top-secret program to build the world’s first atomic weapons. One of three large federal sites in Oak Ridge, K-25 continued to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons and commercial nuclear plants during the Cold War. The site was shut down in the mid-1980s.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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