Note: This story was updated at 2 p.m.
Site preparation could start later this year for the Mercury Treatment Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex as the U.S. Department of Energy prepares for demolition and cleanup work at the nuclear weapons plant.
DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management, or OREM, expects to complete demolition and cleanup work at the East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site, in 2020. It will then focus on the large-scale demolition work at Y-12.
Among the Y-12 buildings that could be demolished are Alpha 4, Alpha 5, and Beta 4, all large buildings where mercury, a toxic metal, was once used. The buildings used mercury to separate lithium for nuclear weapons. The lithium separation operations started in 1955 and ended in 1963.
But before that cleanup work can begin, OREM needs the Mercury Treatment Facility. The plant was first announced at a press conference featuring U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander, a Tennessee Republican, about four years ago, in May 2013.
“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,” Alexander said at the time. [Read more…]