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Department of Energy Begins Demolition on K-25's East Wing - Moves closer to completing Oak Ridge’s largest cleanup project

July 21, 2011 - 12:00pm


OAK RIDGE, Tenn.  - Earlier today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) began the demolition of Building K-25’s east wing. The former uranium enrichment facility, located at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), was once the world’s largest building under one roof, covering more than 44 acres. The project is one of DOE’s highest Environmental Management (EM) priorities in Oak Ridge and an integral component to completing cleanup of ETTP.

“We are excited to begin this phase of the project,” said John Eschenberg, the Oak Ridge Office’s acting deputy manager and assistant manager for EM. “The result of our hard work during the past many months allows us to begin this demolition sooner than expected. We are intently focused and looking forward to the successful completion of this work.”

Demolition of the superstructure’s west wing, measuring 844,000 square feet, concluded in January 2010; since that time, Bechtel Jacobs Company (BJC) has performed cleanout and pre-demolition activities in the neighboring east wing.

"Over the past 18 months, BJC has generated almost $45 million in savings that enabled us to safely accelerate the K-25 schedule to the point that allowed east wing demolition to begin today," said Bechtel Jacobs President Joe Nemec. "This accomplishment provides a firm foundation for completing demolition of K-25, and is a credit to our project team."

Today’s demolition separates the east wing’s technetium-99 contaminated area, which accounts for approximately 20 percent of the facility, from the remainder of the structure. This allows for demolition to progress as workers continue preparation activities in the areas containing technetium-99.

BJC began today’s demolition, but URS | CH2M Oak Ridge (UCOR) will be DOE’s primary environmental cleanup contractor effective August 1, assuming all demolition responsibilities. UCOR was awarded the ETTP cleanup contract in April and has been heavily involved in transition activities with DOE and BJC since that time.

K-25 was constructed in 1944, as part of the Manhattan Project, to develop the first atomic weapon. The superstructure enriched uranium for defense and commercial nuclear power uses until 1985 and was permanently shut down in 1987.