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Recovery Act Helps Y-12 Exceed Cleanup Goal at Manhattan Project-Era Building

March 17, 2011 - 12:00pm


OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – Beta 4, one of the oldest and largest buildings at the Y-12 National Security Complex, recently reached a significant cleanup milestone, thanks to funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The second floor of the building, more than 82,000 square feet, has been cleared of large equipment and waste from Cold War operations. The project was finished one month ahead of schedule despite having to remove 26% more material than was initially estimated (720 cubic yards more than originally estimated).

“The completion of this phase of the Beta 4 project is significant to Y-12’s site transformation plan because it moves us another step closer to the eventual demolition of the building,” said John Eschenberg, Assistant Manager for Environmental Management at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office. “It has also allowed us to contribute to the two primary goals of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act-- support jobs and spur economic activity.”

The Beta 4 facility originally housed the calutrons that were used to separate uranium for the first atomic bomb during the Manhattan Project from 1944-1945. After World War II, the 313,771 square-foot building housed a variety of other operations including the production of lithium-6 and other weapon fabrication support, but operations were moved from the building in recent years to prepare the structure for demolition.

Through the Recovery Act, workers were able to remove and dispose 3,438 cubic meters of material from Beta 4, including non-process equipment, containers, tools, and miscellaneous office equipment.

“In addition to safely packaging and removing the materials for disposal, we also recycled as much material as feasible,” said Tom Fitzmaurice, Beta 4 project manager. “We sent 3,370 cubic meters of waste to the Nevada National Security Site and Y-12 Sanitary Landfill for disposal and 68 cubic meters to recycling facilities for metal, oil and other materials.”

The cleanout of Beta 4’s second floor is one of seven Recovery Act projects at Y-12 that have added 1,483 full-time-equivalent jobs and committed $71.3 million in procurements (76 percent to small businesses). Other Recovery Act projects at the site include disposition of legacy material from the Alpha 5 building; demolition of Building 9735, the 9206 filter house, and four buildings in the Biology Complex; cleanup of the Old Salvage Yard; and remediation of the West End Mercury Area’s storm sewers.

The Recovery Act funds at Y-12 are part of $755 million received by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office Environmental Management program for projects in Oak Ridge. In total, 49 buildings across the Oak Ridge Reservation are being demolished using Recovery Act funds in addition to other projects ranging from tank and soils remediation, capping of old burial grounds, and expansion of the on-site waste disposal facility.

B&W Y-12 LLC managed the Beta 4 project for the Department of Energy’s Environmental Management program.