The biggest change for a water discharge permit drafted for the Y-12 National Security Complex is the construction and operation of a Mercury Treatment Facility, a state official said Tuesday.
The mercury treatment facility, which is under construction and could begin operating next year, is expected to capture and treat most of the mercury released as old, unused mercury-contaminated buildings, equipment, and soils are demolished and removed, especially on the west side of the nuclear weapons production site.
Millions of pounds of mercuryÂ wereÂ usedÂ at Y-12Â in the 1950s and early 1960s to produce nuclear weaponsÂ parts. Roughly 60,000 pounds is estimated to remain in buildings and equipment, and an unknown amount was released into soils and sediments. About 1.3 million pounds is unaccounted for. Mercury is a top pollutant of concern on the federal Oak Ridge Reservation.
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