Cleanup work in Oak Ridge could shift from radiological contamination to mercury contamination, and a new $120 million water treatment plant at the Y-12 National Security Complex will help reduce mercury as workers tear down four contaminated buildings that were used to make nuclear weapons in the 1950s and 1960s, officials announced Friday.
“This water treatment plant is a major step in addressing one of the biggest problems we have from the Cold War era—mercury once used to make nuclear weapons getting into our waterways,” said U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican. He said mercury contamination can cause brain and nervous system damage in people who eat contaminated fish.
Alexander was at Y-12 on Friday along with other federal and state officials to help announce the new water treatment plant, which will be at the head of East Fork Poplar Creek on the south side of Y-12’s main production area. The plant would be connected to a Y-12 storm water system, and it could begin operating in 2019. It would be able to treat 1,500 gallons of mercury-contaminated water per minute. [Read more…]