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Oak Ridge's EM Program Realizes Successful 2010

February 7, 2011 - 12:00pm


OAK RIDGE, Tenn. - Cleanup at the Oak Ridge Reservation took a major leap forward in 2010, as the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Environmental Management (EM) completed numerous projects that reduced risks, decreased the site’s footprint, and paved the way for new development for DOE missions.

Major accomplishments were completed across the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12), and the East Tennessee Technology Park using baseline and Recovery Act funds. The year began with notable progress on Oak Ridge’s highest profile cleanup project, K-25. In 2010, the west wing of the highly contaminated building was demolished, removing nearly half of the 40-acre superstructure.

Entering the second year of the Recovery Act, residents and workers witnessed a visible transformation at Oak Ridge’s three major sites.  Work was accomplished on time and in many cases, under estimated costs. Benefiting from effective planning and strong project management, EM was able to fund additional projects using more than $100 million in savings from projects completed under original estimates.  These funds are now being used to accelerate completion of Oak Ridge’s regulatory commitments and ensuring compliance with cleanup regulations.

“After taking a comprehensive look at our body of work from this past year, we are very energized,” said John Eschenberg, Oak Ridge Office (ORO) Assistant Manager for EM. “We have proven our ability to complete cleanup projects on schedule and on budget, and that’s important because we are maximizing the return to our community and the taxpayer.”

Last year, EM demolished several outdated, hazardous facilities at ORNL such as Building 3026, a facility that once processed radioisotopes, and the 2000 Complex, a group of multi-use structures that previously conducted radiological studies. These, and other demolition projects in ORNL’s central campus, are eliminating risks to workers and providing clean real estate for new research facilities and economic development, such as the expansion of the Science and Technology Park.

Work also began in 2010 to remove Tank W-1A, the largest source of groundwater contamination at ORNL. The 4,000-gallon tank collected and stored liquid wastes from radiochemical separations for 35 years, which over time slowly leaked its contaminants into the surrounding soil and groundwater. Work is underway to remove the tank, create groundwater extraction wells, and thoroughly clean the surrounding soil.

The most significant cleanup project at Y-12 also began last year. The West End Mercury Area storm sewer cleanup project is addressing Y-12’s greatest environmental concern, mercury off-site transport, by modernizing and upgrading the storm sewers, removing contaminated soils, cleaning and relining 12,000 linear feet of piping, replacing catch basins, and treating contaminated water.

“We are extremely proud to be moving forward on these two major milestone projects,” Eschenberg said. “Their completion will allow us to move one step closer to a safer, cleaner Oak Ridge.”

EM also completed several demolition projects at Y-12. One of the largest projects was the removal of 4 facilities, totaling 135,000 square feet, in Y-12’s Biology Complex. Many of these buildings dated back to the Manhattan Project and had begun falling apart in recent years. Demolition also removed the site’s last remaining structures on “Engineering Row.”

The complete listing of EM’s accomplishments in 2010 can be found in DOE’s newly-released publication, FY 2010 Cleanup Progress Annual Report to the Oak Ridge Community.