The cleanup work at federal sites in Oak Ridge is transitioning to limited operations today (Wednesday, April 1).
The transition applies specifically to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management, or OREM. OREM oversees cleanup work at DOE sites in Oak Ridge, including East Tennessee Technology Park, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Y-12 National Security Complex.
“The safety and health of the EM workforce—federal and contractor employees—is the top priority of EM leadership across the complex,” DOE headquarters said in response to questions. “As a prudent response to the current situation regarding COVID-19 in Tennessee, effective on April 1, the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management is transitioning to limited operations. EM is choosing to take this action out of an abundance of caution.”
Activities that support DOE’s cleanup mission will be limited to those necessary to put projects into a status where they will ensure the safety of the public, workers, and the environment, the Energy Department said.
“In conjunction with our colleagues across the Department of Energy complex, the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management continues to closely monitor developments associated with the coronavirus,” DOE said. “EM will continue to provide updates as circumstances develop. Affected contractor employees will receive additional guidance from their employers.”
It wasn’t immediately clear how the change might affect the Oak Ridge workforce.
Oak Ridge Today had asked how the COVID-19 pandemic had affected cleanup work at ETTP, if at all, construction of the Mercury Treatment Facility and demolition of the Biology Complex at Y-12, and the U-233 disposal project and thorium extraction for TerraPower at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Oak Ridge Today had also asked about any recommendations regarding maintaining separation between employees, among other questions.
DOE said employees are teleworking as much as possible.
“Throughout this time, leadership has regularly communicated and reinforced the latest CDC guidelines to workers,” DOE said. “Employees were reminded to heed travel restrictions; stay at home if they were sick; adhere to social distancing; avoid contact with those who exhibit respiratory illness; seek medical attention for proper care and treatment; avoid heavily populated events; wash their hands properly; and wipe down surfaces, eat nutritiously, get enough rest, and stay hydrated to help prevent contracting viruses. Finally, employees were reminded to contact Health Services staff if they had questions.”
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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