ETTP cleanup team receives Secretary’s Award

East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site, is pictured above in west Oak Ridge after most cleanup work, including demolition of the five large gaseous diffusion buildings, was completed. (Submitted photo)

The Oak Ridge team that mostly cleaned up the former K-25 site, demolishing five large gaseous diffusion buildings and more than 500 structures, has received a Secretary’s Achievement Award from U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. The work was done ahead of schedule and under budget, the U.S. Department of Energy said.

Granholm honored the DOE Office of Environmental Management team from Oak Ridge in a virtual ceremony Wednesday, a press release said.

K-25 was used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons and commercial nuclear power plants from World War II to the 1980s.

It was the first removal of a uranium enrichment complex, and it cleared 13 million square feet of deteriorated, contaminated structures from the site, the press release said.

“The Secretary’s Achievement Award honors a group or team of DOE employees and contractors who accomplish significant achievements on behalf of the department, demonstrating cooperation and teamwork in attaining their goals,” the press release said. “The award was given to the Oak Ridge Vision 2020 Project Team based on its achievements from 2020.”

[Read more…]

Demolition started on centrifuge site, largest remaining complex at ETTP

Workers have begun taking down the second of four sections of the Centrifuge Complex at East Tennessee Technology Park in Oak Ridge. Completing this project will move the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management closer to its goal of finishing all major demolitions at ETTP by the end 2020. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management)

Cleanup crews have started tearing down the largest remaining collection of buildings at the former K-25 site, which was built during World War II and enriched uranium for nuclear weapons and power plants through the Cold War.

The demolition work is occurring at the Centrifuge Complex at the K-25 site, now known as East Tennessee Technology Park or Heritage Center. The Centrifuge Complex is on the south side of ETTP. It includes the tall, white buildings visible from Highway 58.

Oak Ridge crews began demolishing the K-1200 section of the Centrifuge Complex in February. It’s the second of four sections.

Deactivation and demolition work in the first section of the complex was recently completed. That portion was a Manhattan Project facility built for research and development in 1944.

[Read more…]

K-25 History Center to feature exhibits, artifacts, galleries

K-25 History Center (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management)


The K-25 History Center in west Oak Ridge will feature exhibits with more than 250 original artifacts and interactive galleries developed with help from almost 1,000 oral histories.

There will be a grand opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for the K-25 History Center at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, February 27.

“The K-25 History Center was created to honor the amazing stories of the men and women who helped construct and operate the uranium enrichment complex that altered the global landscape during the Manhattan Project and Cold War,” the U.S. Department of Energy said.

The History Center is housed in 7,500 square feet of space on the second floor of the city-owned fire station at the former K-25 site, now known as Heritage Center. It was developed as part of a 2012 agreement that allowed DOE to demolish the North Tower of the former mile-long, U-shaped K-25 Building.

[Read more…]

Cirrus Aircraft, Coquí Radio Pharmaceuticals could use Oak Ridge Airport

This is an aerial image of the current layout plan for the proposed Oak Ridge Airport at the Heritage Center (the former K-25 site) in west Oak Ridge. (Image courtesy Metropolitan Knoxville Airport Authority)

Cirrus Aircraft and Coquí Radio Pharmaceuticals could both use the proposed Oak Ridge Airport, a project consultant said Tuesday.

Oak Ridge Today has previously reported that Coquí Radio Pharmaceuticals Corporation could use the airport, which would have a 5,000-foot runway and be located at Heritage Center, the former K-25 site. Coquí has announced plans to build a $500 million medical isotope production facility at Heritage Center.

The company makes medical isotopes with a half-life of 62 hours, airport project consultant Billy Stair said at an Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce breakfast on Tuesday. Using the Oak Ridge Airport, rather than spending 42 minutes driving to McGhee Tyson Airport in Blount County, would save Coquí about $2.3 million per year, Stair said. It would also avoid the loss of about 1,000 doses per day of isotopes used for medical treatments, Stair said.

The Federal Aviation Administration conditionally approved the Oak Ridge Airport in March. That was a very significant step after four years of work, Stair said. The master plan has been approved; the precise location of the runway has been set; and a model of likely traffic has been developed.

As part of the conditional approval, the FAA wants an environmental assessment and a benefit-cost analysis.

[Read more…]

DOE needs more time for K-25 history projects

An outside view showing the K-25 History Center, Equipment Building, and Viewing Tower at East Tennessee Technology Park in west Oak Ridge. (Image courtesy U.S. Department of Energy)

An image published in October 2017 shows the K-25 History Center, Equipment Building, and Viewing Tower at East Tennessee Technology Park in west Oak Ridge. (Image courtesy U.S. Department of Energy)

 

The U.S. Department of Energy is requesting more time to complete projects to commemorate the historic contributions of the former K-25 site in west Oak Ridge.

Built during World War II, the K-25 site helped enrich uranium for the first atomic bomb used in wartime as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project. The plant continued to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons and commercial nuclear power plants after the war, and those who have worked at the site have said it helped win the Cold War.

The history of the site will be honored by preserving the concrete slab of the former K-25 Building, building a Viewing Tower and replica Equipment Building on the south side of the building site, and opening a K-25 History Center on the second floor of the adjacent Oak Ridge Fire Station Number 4.

A historical interpretation agreement was signed in August 2012. But it expires this August. And the roughly $20 million worth of projects won’t be complete by then.

DOE is making “good progress,” but “the reality is we need a little more time,” said Dave Adler, acting deputy manager for DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management. Adler and Steve Cooke, K-25 preservation coordinator for DOE, briefly discussed the proposed amendment to the agreement during a Tuesday evening work session with the Oak Ridge City Council. [Read more…]

K-25 Equipment Building & Viewing Tower: Design complete, construction funding available

An outside view showing the K-25 History Center, Equipment Building, and Viewing Tower at East Tennessee Technology Park in west Oak Ridge. (Image courtesy U.S. Department of Energy)

An image published in October 2017 shows the K-25 History Center, Equipment Building, and Viewing Tower at East Tennessee Technology Park in west Oak Ridge. It wasn’t immediately clear Friday evening, Jan. 11, 2019, if the design has changed. (Image courtesy U.S. Department of Energy)

 

The design is complete and funding is available for the construction of an Equipment Building and Viewing Tower that will help commemorate the history of the K-25 Building, once the world’s largest building under one roof.

K-25 was built in Oak Ridge during World War II to help enrich uranium for the Manhattan Project. That was a top-secret federal program to build the world’s first atomic weapons. During the war, Oak Ridge enriched the uranium for “Little Boy,” the first atomic bomb used in wartime. “Little Boy” was detonated over Hiroshima, Japan, on August 6, 1945, shortly before the end of World War II.

After the war, the four-story, 44-acre K-25 Building and four other large buildings at the K-25 site continued to use a process known as gaseous diffusion to enrich uranium for atomic weapons and commercial nuclear power plants. Officials say the K-25 site, which is in west Oak Ridge, helped win the Cold War.

After decades of use, the K-25 site was shut down in the mid-1980s, and as part of a cleanup effort in recent years, the five large gaseous diffusion buildings have been demolished. But the history of the K-25 building and the site will live on in a History Center on the second floor of Oak Ridge Fire Station Number 4, which is next to K-25’s concrete slab, and at the Equipment Building and Viewing Tower, which will be just west of the History Center.

The History Center, Equipment Building, and Viewing Tower will be on the south side of the former K-25 Building. The site is now known as Heritage Center or East Tennessee Technology Park. [Read more…]

DNFSB: Moving fissile materials, operations from Y-12 building improves nuclear safety, reduces risk

Building 9204-2 (Beta 2) is pictured above at center at the Y-12 National Security Complex. Part of Building 9204-2E (Beta 2E) is pictured in the top left. (Photo courtesy Consolidated Nuclear Security)

Building 9204-2 (Beta 2) is pictured above at center at the Y-12 National Security Complex. Part of Building 9204-2E (Beta 2E) is pictured in the top left. (Photo courtesy Consolidated Nuclear Security)

Building 9204-2 (Beta 2) is pictured above at center at the Y-12 National Security Complex. Part of Building 9204-2E (Beta 2E) is pictured in the top left. (Photo courtesy Consolidated Nuclear Security)

Building 9204-2 (Beta 2) is pictured above at center at the Y-12 National Security Complex. Part of Building 9204-2E (Beta 2E) is pictured in the top left. (Photo courtesy Consolidated Nuclear Security)

 

Nuclear materials and operations have been removed from an old building at the Y-12 National Security Complex, and that improves safety and reduces the risk to workers and the public, a federal safety board said.

The building, 9204-2, or Beta 2, is on the west side of Y-12. It’s one of nine buildings at the 811-acre site that once used machines known as calutrons to enrich uranium for atomic bombs as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project during World War II. It’s now used to produce lithium for nuclear weapons.

In an early September report, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board said Consolidated Nuclear Security and the National Nuclear Security Administration Production Office had officially downgraded Building 9204-2. It had been a category two hazard, but it is now less than category three. It’s considered non-nuclear.

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Centrus Energy has $15 million project to prepare K-1600 for demolition

The "footprint," the area where the K-25 Building used to be in west Oak Ridge, is pictured above at the East Tennessee Technology Park in west Oak Ridge. The white K-1600 Building is pictured in the middle of the "footprint." The brick building in the foreground is Oak Ridge Fire Station No. 4. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management)

The K-25 “footprint,” the area where the K-25 Building used to be in west Oak Ridge, is pictured above at the East Tennessee Technology Park in west Oak Ridge. The white K-1600 Building is pictured in the middle of the “footprint.” The brick building in the foreground is Oak Ridge Fire Station No. 4, and it includes the K-25 History Center. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management)

 

Centrus Energy Corporation has a $15 million project to prepare K-1600, a building in the middle of the historic K-25 “footprint,” for demolition.

On Tuesday, Centrus announced that it had received a work authorization from the U.S. Department of Energy for decontamination and decommissioning (D&D) work at the building. The work will include removing and disposing of equipment and materials to make K-1600 non-radiologically contaminated and non-possessing (i.e. unclassified), a press release said. The work will occur between October 1, 2018, and September 30, 2019.

After the work is completed, DOE will be able to turn over K-1600 to a contractor to demolish it, the press release said. It’s one of the last remaining “legacy structures” on the 2,200-acre site of the World War II-era K-25 uranium enrichment plant, now known as the East Tennessee Technology Park, the press release said.

Many other buildings have been demolished there, including the five large gaseous diffusion buildings once used to enrich uranium for atomic weapons and commercial nuclear power plants. ETTP is now being converted into a large industrial park in west Oak Ridge. [Read more…]

K-25 overlook to re-open in October

The Visitor's Overlook, part of the Happy Valley property purchased in November, is pictured above across from East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site, on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

The Visitor’s Overlook, part of the Happy Valley property purchased in November 2016, is pictured above across from East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site, on Thursday, Oct. 19, 2017. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

 

K-25 Overlook will be ‘bigger and better,’ provide Manhattan Project and recreational information

The K-25 Overlook next to State Route 58 in west Oak Ridge will soon be re-opening as a much larger and nicer visitor center that will also have a new purpose, a press release said.

Owner John McCormick, vice president of Bionomics, purchased the 160-acre property known as Happy Valley through an auction at the end of 2016. The overlook on SR 58 across from the East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site, was part of the purchase.

But the overlook needed building repairs and updates to the historical information inside, the press release said. In 2017, McCormick partnered with Pam May, vice president of the Roane Alliance, who reached out to local historians, the National Park Service, U.S. Department of Energy, and Explore Oak Ridge to discuss the future of the overlook.

“The idea to expand the overlook into a visitor center and recreational hub came from the National Park Service in one of the early meetings,” May said. “That aligned perfectly with what John had envisioned—to create trails and open spaces that people could enjoy while also learning Happy Valley’s history through its landmarks still evident on the property.” [Read more…]

Anderson County historian to discuss land & people before Oak Ridge

Mary Harris

Mary Harris

Anderson County’s historian will discuss the land and people before Oak Ridge during a Thursday evening meeting.

Mary S. Harris is Anderson County historian and records custodian, a press release said.

She will be the featured speaker at the monthly public meeting of the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association. It is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Thursday, March 8, at the Midtown Community Center’s Wildcat Den.

The city that is now Oak Ridge was picked for the Manhattan Project, a top-secret federal project to build the world’s first atomic weapons during World War II, more than 75 years ago, on September 19, 1942. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt authorized the Manhattan Project on December 28, 1942, and by then, work on the site where the first production facilities would be built here was already under way. [Read more…]

Atomic Heritage Foundation launches new audio, visual program on Oak Ridge

Bill Wilcox 90th Birthday Party

Oak Ridge City Historian Bill Wilcox, who died in 2013, was a longtime advocate for preserving the city’s history, including parts of its federal facilities. Wilcox is pictured above at his 90th birthday party in the spring of 2013.

 

Submitted

“There was construction going on everywhere you looked,” Bill Wilcox remembered, describing his first impressions of Oak Ridge, Tennessee. “Trucks and people just crawling all over the place, hammers and banging. Wooden structures going up everywhere. Nothing was paved, and there weren’t any sidewalks.”

Wilcox was one of the thousands of people who moved to the new “Secret City” of Oak Ridge to work on the Manhattan Project, the top-secret World War II effort to develop an atomic bomb.

The Atomic Heritage Foundation has launched a new online interpretive program on Oak Ridge with 16 audio/visual vignettes. This beta program is part of AHF’s “Ranger in Your Pocket” series on the Manhattan Project, which focuses on former Manhattan Project sites and features vignettes with eyewitness accounts and expert commentary. AHF welcomes feedback and will improve and expand upon the program over the next year, a press release said.

In September 1942, Manhattan Project director General Leslie Groves designated “Site X,” approximately 59,000 acres of land on the Clinch River in rural eastern Tennessee, as the site for the project’s uranium production facilities. Approximately 3,000 people living in the area in five small farming communities were forced to leave their homes and land with minimal compensation. Construction of a new city began at breakneck speed. By the end of World War II, some 75,000 people would call Oak Ridge home, making it the fifth-largest city in Tennessee. [Read more…]