Essential to that success are the partnerships we helped forge with local, state, and federal stakeholders.
The culmination of those efforts was our collective “Vision 2020” — the first-ever cleanup of a former gaseous diffusion plant, which was delivered four years ahead of schedule, $80 million under budget, and eliminated $500 million of environmental liability. This has enabled significant beneficial land re-use at what our region now refers to as the Heritage Center (formerly East Tennessee Technology Park or ETTP). This land re-use includes private business opportunities, historic preservation and conservation to continue economic growth for Oak Ridge and the broader region.
Building on key investments and developments such as Kairos Power and Coqui Pharmaceuticals, in early March Heritage Center added yet another new tenant: Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. The company is a nuclear fuels manufacturer that will invest $13 million and create 31 new jobs in a new fuel manufacturing facility.
DOE has already transferred 1,300 acres back to the community for new economic development investments like Ultra Safe Nuclear. The Department recently signed an agreement with the state of Tennessee to transfer another 3,500 acres for conservation and recreation.
Each of these successes would not have been possible without the availability of a safe, permitted, onsite waste disposal facility. That site, the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility, kept thousands of trucks carrying waste from ETTP, Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12), and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) off the public roadways. In addition to increasing safety, using the EMWMF allowed us to reduce carbon emissions and significantly accelerate our cleanup activities for the taxpayer.
UCOR and its partners are now ready to move to the next chapter of our shared aspirational vision with DOE, “Vision 2031.” Through this vision, we will simultaneously wrap up our Heritage Center commitments and fully transition our cleanup work to Y-12 and ORNL. This scope includes demolishing aging facilities and restoring land to enable modernization in support of future national security and science missions at these sites — continuing Oak Ridge’s proud legacy in those sectors. And like EMWMF, this next generation of cleanup will require a safe, permitted, onsite waste disposal facility: the Environmental Management Disposal Facility.
As UCOR continues to build on the partnerships that enabled our Vision 2020 success, we also re-commit to maintaining the highest standards of safety, ethics, sustainability, and environmental protection in all we will do to achieve Vision 2031. We look forward to continuing to earn your trust as we deliver on this significant and rewarding work for our region.
Ken Rueter is president and CEO of UCOR, an Amentum-led partnership with Jacobs. UCOR is the U.S. Department of Energy’s lead environmental cleanup contractor on the Oak Ridge Reservation.
***This article was first published by OakRidger here.