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Recovery Act Funded Environmental Cleanup Begins at Y-12

July 16, 2009 - 12:00pm


OAK RIDGE, Tenn. - Environmental cleanup activities are under way at the Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12).  The removal of excess equipment and scrap materials from Manhattan Era buildings is made possible through funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Y-12’s Beta 4 (Building 9204 4) and Alpha 5 (Building 9201-5) facilities date back to the 1940s and are currently storing years of legacy material from past plant operations.  Recovery Act funding will support work to empty these facilities to allow for eventual demolition, reducing the footprint and infrastructure at the site.

“This work is a significant step in supporting cleanup of Y-12’s facilities so that the  modernization of this important National Nuclear Security Administration site can safely continue,” said Gerald Boyd, Manager of DOE’s Oak Ridge Office.

A significant portion of the Recovery Act funding designated for Y-12, which is part of the $755 million received by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office Environmental Management program, will be used to remove and dispose of legacy materials from an 82,000-square-foot area within Beta 4 and the entire 613,642-square-foot Alpha 5 facility.  Initiation of work at both buildings began ahead of schedule by B&W Y-12, the Y-12 site contractor performing this work.

“Moving forward to safely accomplish removal of this material will help prepare both buildings for eventual demolition,” said Theodore D. Sherry, Manager of Y-12 Site Office for the National Nuclear Security Administration.  “This allows us to modernize our site by reducing the costs of maintaining unneeded and deteriorating facilities that no longer support our national security mission.”

Before work began to remove the materials, appropriate safety measures were taken to identify contamination levels of the materials involved to ensure safety of the 39 B&W Y-12 workers on this task.  A health and safety characterization of these materials was initiated and completed ahead of schedule.

It is estimated that both the Alpha 5 and Beta 4 projects will require 27 months to complete legacy material removal. In Alpha 5, there is approximately 700,000 cubic feet of material, equivalent to approximately 1,728 standard dump truck loads.

In addition to ensuring safe but rapid work achievements, administrative milestones have also been met. “We are meeting our performance measures now and will continue to do so throughout the life of the projects,” said Darrel P. Kohlhorst, B&W Y-12 President and General Manager. “With this success to date, Y-12 is ensuring both accountability and transparency in the work accomplished with Recovery Act funding.”

The Y-12 National Security Complex is a key facility in the U.S. Nuclear Security Enterprise and is responsible for ensuring the safety, reliability, and security of the nuclear weapons stockpile and serves as the nation’s primary repository of highly enriched uranium. B&W Y 12 operates the Y 12 National Security Complex for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.