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Reshaping Its Skyline: Y-12 Receives Approval to Begin Multi-Building Demolition Project

November 19, 2009 - 12:00pm


OAK RIDGE, Tenn. - A major step toward a skyline changing transformation at the Y-12 National Security Complex will commence in Spring 2010 as demolition begins on four buildings in the former Biology Complex, visible from the site’s main entrance.

The project will eliminate 135,812 square feet of building space and is the largest of three Y-12 demolition projects slated for funding by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

The Biology Complex demolition is part of Y-12’s ongoing effort to significantly reduce its footprint, a process that is being accelerated with more than $200 million in ARRA funding. The biology buildings have been vacant since late 2003 when the last remaining research activities moved out.

“These are old, deteriorating buildings, and their rate of deterioration is accelerating,” said Bob Warther, vice president for Environmental Management for B&W Y-12, operating contractor for the Y-12 National Security Complex. “It’s important to get these buildings down in a controlled manner. The Biology Complex project is a significant portion of our planned ARRA work, and we are committed to finishing this job with a stellar record of safety, efficiency, and stewardship.”

Two of the four buildings in the Biology Complex Decontamination and Decommissioning project were constructed in 1945 (buildings 9211 and 9769).  Building 9220 was built in 1967, and building 9224 in 1968. The buildings will be completely demolished, including disposition of all material and waste.

The Biology Complex has seven main buildings and several small structures. “If we can finish under cost, we’re investigating the possibility of taking down the entire Biology Complex, subject to all necessary approvals,” Warther said.

The first buildings in the Biology Complex were built to expand Y-12’s uranium processing capacity during World War II. The Biology Complex subsequently was used for a variety of biological research initiatives. Its most famous work, the mouse genetics program, made significant contributions in the areas of obesity, diabetes, radiation, and other human health issues. The Complex was expanded multiple times throughout its decades of operation.

The primary chemical hazards in the structure include lead, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), Freon, oils, and asbestos. The demolition project will be performed in accordance with the requirements of the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and Liability Act as a time-critical removal action. Project waste will primarily be disposed at on-site waste facilities, including the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility (EMWMF), and Y-12 landfills. Radiologically-contaminated waste that meets the facility waste acceptance criteria (WAC) is expected to be disposed at the EMWMF. Sanitary and construction/demolition waste will be disposed at the Y-12 Landfill in accordance with the facility WAC. Some waste may be shipped to an approved off-site facility for treatment and/or disposal.