Upper East Fork Poplar Creek is pictured above at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge on Friday, May 22, 2020. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

More than 4,000 fish and crayfish were killed by chlorinated water and mercury at the Y-12 National Security Complex in two series of incidents in 2018 and 2021. 

The first series of incidents was likely caused by the release of mercury while crews were cleaning up and removing equipment at the Alpha-4 Building on the west side of Y-12, according to scientists and officials. Alpha-4 is the most contaminated of the four major mercury-contaminated buildings at Y-12. Millions of pounds of mercury were used at Y-12 decades ago to produce nuclear weapons parts. Removing mercury-contaminated buildings, equipment, and soil remains one of the top challenges of cleaning up the Oak Ridge Reservation.

Upper East Fork Poplar Creek is pictured above at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge on Friday, May 22, 2020. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

 

More than 4,000 fish and crayfish were killed by chlorinated water and mercury at the Y-12 National Security Complex in two series of incidents in 2018 and 2021.

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Crews start demolishing ETTP Centrifuge Complex

ETTP Centrifuge Complex Aerial View
Demolition work has started on the Centrifuge Complex at the front side of the East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site in west Oak Ridge. The work is part of the project to finish cleanup at ETTP by the end of 2020. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management)

The largest and most visible buildings remaining at the East Tennessee Technology Park are being removed.

Demolition is under way on the Centrifuge Complex, according to the “EM Update” newsletter published last week by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management.

The demolition work is part of the project to finish cleanup at ETTP, the former K-25 site in west Oak Ridge, by the end of 2020. One of the three main sites in Oak Ridge, K-25 was built as part of the Manhattan Project, the top-secret federal program to build atomic weapons during World War II. The site continued to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons and commercial nuclear power plants through the Cold War. Its operations ended in the mid-1980s, and the site is now being converted into a private industrial park.

The Centrifuge Complex has more than 235,000 square feet, and sections of it reach heights of 180 feet. It was built in stages to develop and test centrifuge uranium enrichment technology, the “EM Update” said. The last of these facilities ceased operation in the mid-1980s.

[Read more…]

Environmental advisory board seeks new members

Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board members recently toured Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Aquatics Lab, where researchers explained how their sampling and study efforts are helping understand and track biodiversity in the East Fork Poplar Creek. (Photo courtesy SSAB)

Members are being sought for an advisory board that learns about U.S. Department of Energy cleanup projects in Oak Ridge and, when appropriate, provides recommendations.

The citizens advisory board is the Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board. It provides recommendations to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management, or OREM. No technical expertise is required to serve on the board. Terms are for two years, and members may serve up to three terms, for a total of six years on the board.

The board and its Environmental Management and Stewardship Committee meet monthly to hear directly from OREM personnel on cleanup projects and related decisions. Topics include, but are not limited to, the removal of excess facilities, annual budget requests to Congress, groundwater remediation, hazardous waste management, and long-term stewardship.

[Read more…]

DOE awards new contract to support environmental cleanup in Oak Ridge

Five contracts worth up to $24.9 million total have been awarded to small businesses to help support the cleanup of federal sites in Oak Ridge.

The awardees include one company based in Oak Ridge and two based in Knoxville.

The awards were announced last week by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management as part of its Characterization, Deactivation/Demolition, and Remediation Services contract.

The Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management, or OREM, said it will use the awards to advance cleanup progress across the Oak Ridge Reservation by issuing task orders to conduct characterization, demolish lower hazard buildings, dispose waste, and provide technical support.

[Read more…]

DOE names deputy cleanup manager in Oak Ridge

Laura Wilkerson

Laura Wilkerson

 

The U.S. Department of Energy on Wednesday named a deputy cleanup manager in Oak Ridge.

The new deputy manager, Laura Wilkerson, has been selected as the deputy manager of the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management, or OREM. That’s the program responsible for cleanup projects at federal sites in Oak Ridge, including the East Tennessee Technology Park (the former K-25 site), Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and Y-12 National Security Complex.

Wilkerson previously served as the director of OREM’s Planning and Execution Division, a press release said. She has more than 25 years of federal service. [Read more…]

Lithium Production Facility could be built in area of Biology Complex at Y-12

Federal officials have already approved the need for a new Lithium Production Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex, and in May 2018, they said it could be built on the east side of the 811-acre plant, possibly where the Biology Complex, the brick building at center, is now. The east side of Y-12 is pictured above from Scarboro Road on Sunday, May 20, 2018. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

Federal officials have already approved the need for a new Lithium Production Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex, and in May 2018, they said it could be built on the east side of the 811-acre plant, possibly where the Biology Complex, the brick building at center, is now. The east side of Y-12 is pictured above from Scarboro Road on Sunday, May 20, 2018. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

 

Federal officials have already approved the need for a new Lithium Production Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex, and this month, they said it could be built on the east side of the 811-acre plant, possibly where the Biology Complex is now.

Current plans call for demolishing the Biology Complex. Officials had recently been saying that removing buildings from that complex would allow the area to be used for “modern national defense missions.” But it hadn’t been clear what those missions might be.

On May 12, Steven Wyatt, public affairs manager for the National Nuclear Security Administration Production Office, confirmed that the Lithium Production Facility could be built there. Y-12 is a NNSA site.

“We are in the early stages of planning for the Lithium Production Capability that is needed to replace the aging and obsolete 9204-2 building,” Wyatt said. “We are reviewing options for constructing a facility in the eastern portion of the Y-12 site, including the area of the Biology Complex.” [Read more…]

Learn about DOE’s progress cleaning up federal sites on Wednesday

Jay Mullis

Jay Mullis

You can learn about the progress being made in the cleanup of federal sites in Oak Ridge on Wednesday.

The information will be shared at the annual Community Budget Workshop, which is scheduled from 4:30-6 p.m. Wednesday, May 9. It’s hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management, or OREM.

The Community Budget Workshop will be in the DOE Conference Room 2714-G at 235 Laboratory Road in Oak Ridge.

“This event serves as one of the most effective forums to educate the community about OREM’s progress, budget, and priorities,” a press release said. “This year’s discussion will focus on the growing financial support Oak Ridge’s environmental cleanup program has received from Congress, and how this support is helping accelerate cleanup and create new opportunities in Oak Ridge.” [Read more…]

Spending bill has $639 million for DOE cleanup in Oak Ridge

Y-12 Biology Complex aerial

An aerial view of the Biology Complex at the Y-12 National Security Complex. Plans call for eventually demolishing the complex. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Energy)

 

The federal spending bill approved last week includes $639 million for the federal government’s cleanup program in Oak Ridge, including what could be full funding for a top priority deactivation and demolition project at the Y-12 National Security Complex.

The $639 million for the current fiscal year is an increase of $141 million or more, compared to recent fiscal years, and it’s the most money appropriated in a while.

Besides Y-12, the fiscal year 2018 funding will be used for U.S. Department of Energy cleanup projects at East Tennessee Technology Park (the former K-25 site) and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

“It’s very positive for us,” said Jay Mullis, manager of the DOE Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management, or OREM. Mullis gave a brief update at a meeting of the Oak Ridge Reservation Communities Alliance on Monday.

In addition to $125 million to deactivate and demolish the Biology Complex at Y-12, the fiscal year 2018 spending bill includes $17.1 million in funding for the planned Mercury Treatment Facility at Y-12, about $200 million for continued cleanup work at ETTP, and a total of roughly $12 million for the Environmental Management Disposal Facility, or EMDF. That’s a proposed landfill that could be west of Y-12 and accept waste from future cleanup work at Y-12 and ORNL, possibly early in the 2020s. The project plan for EMDF is expected to be open to public comment later this summer. [Read more…]