UCOR cleanup at DOE Oak Ridge Reservation


UCOR: Cleaning Up the Former Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant and other sites on DOE Oak Ridge Reservation.

UCOR: Cleaning Up the Former Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant and other sites on DOE Oak Ridge Reservation. 

UCOR, an Amentum-led project, is responsible for cleaning up the former Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant and other sites on the DOE Oak Ridge Reservation. This year, UCOR will achieve a historic milestone—the first-ever complete cleanup of a gaseous diffusion complex. Finishing this work ahead of schedule has allowed UCOR to transition cleanup operations to other sites on the Reservation.

Now called East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), the former gaseous diffusion plant ceased uranium enrichment operations in the mid-1980s. DOE is converting ETTP into a multi-use industrial park, national park, and conservation area.

After gaseous diffusion operations ceased in the mid-1980s, cleanup and reindustrialization became the main goal for the site. Cleanup was a challenging task, with five massive gaseous diffusion buildings—one of them a mile long—and hundreds of other buildings slated for demolition.

When UCOR became the cleanup contractor in 2011, crews were faced with challenging, high hazard work as most of the buildings were dilapidated and contaminated. Some areas still contained classified materials. UCOR’s unique dispose-as-you-go approach has kept projects moving more rapidly by immediately disposing of the demolition waste.

DOE set two key cleanup milestones, or visions, for ETTP. Vision 2016—completing the removal of the five gaseous diffusion buildings, was successfully completed. Soon to be achieved, Vision 2020 involves demolishing all remaining unneeded structures and completing critical remedial actions. With this achievement, the cleanup focus will shift to unneeded facilities at ORNL and Y-12, freeing up land that can be reused to support their continuing missions.

As the ETTP cleanup project comes to a successful conclusion, workers have demolished a total of 13.6 million square feet of facilities. UCOR demolished the largest structures at the site ahead of schedule and under budget:

  • K-25 Building: six months ahead of schedule; $4.5 million under budget
  • K-31 Building: four-month ahead of schedule; $6.5 million under budget
  • K-27 Building: nine months ahead of schedule; $9.8 million under budget

Other notable cleanup projects at ETTP include:

  • Toxic Substances Control Act Incinerator: Workers successfully completed the demolition of the incinerator, which operated from 1991 to 2009, treating 35.6 million pounds of waste.
  • Poplar Creek Area Facilities: These 11 facilities, some of the most contaminated at the site, supported uranium enrichment operations. Their demolition greatly reduced site risk.
  • Central Neutralization Facility: Constructed in the mid-1980s to treat wastewater resulting from site operations, the sprawling complex of tanks, trailers, and other treatment facilities were demolished more than $3.9 million under budget.
  • K-1037 Building: As one of the earliest structures at the site, the 380,000-square-foot structure originally served as a warehouse, but it was later used as a production facility for the barriers used in the gaseous diffusion process. Classified materials had to be removed from the facility before demolition, which was completed four months ahead of schedule.
  • Centrifuge Complex: Spanning more than 235,000 square feet, the Centrifuge Complex was built in stages to provide development, testing, reliability, and demonstration capability of uranium enrichment using centrifuges. The last of these facilities ceased operation in the mid-1980s. Workers are wrapping up the demolition of this facility.

UCOR’s successful work on the Oak Ridge Reservation has been highlighted by an exceptional safety record. UCOR has achieved DOE Voluntary Protection Program Star status, a designation only given to the safety sites in the DOE Complex. UCOR has also won the VPP Star of Excellence Award three years in a row and was named one of America’s safest companies by EHS Today magazine.

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