Oak Ridge’s EM program removes outdated and contaminated facilities at ORNL to improve safety and create room for new buildings that conduct the Department’s missions in science, energy efficiency, and national security.
Our goal is to achieve a clean, modernized, and reindustrialized Oak Ridge. We are accomplishing this by prioritizing risks and selecting projects that remove these risks and other barriers to safe, thriving research and industrial areas.
The local EM program is conducting environmental cleanup at three diverse sites—the East Tennessee Technology Park, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Y-12 National Security Complex. Each has its own missions and challenges, and our employees are working on projects that will help each site transform to achieve its full potential toward DOE missions and economic development.
At the East Tennessee Technology Park, EM is removing old, hazardous Manhattan and Cold War-era buildings across the 2,200 acre site to allow private industry to develop and invest in the site. Before cleanup began in 1996, the site had more than 600 buildings, but our federal and contactor workforce have dramatically reduced the footprint by removing three of the five sprawling gaseous diffusion plants that covered millions of square feet. These buildings included numerous radiological contaminants from decades of uranium enrichment and production. As the EM program cleans out and demolishes these facilities, the real estate becomes more attractive to the private sector, especially considering the site has existing infrastructure that meets industrial companies’ needs. Ultimately, cleanup at the East Tennessee Technology Park is paving the way for private industry growth in the region that can bolster the local economy.
The Oak Ridge National Laboratory displays a stark contrast between old and new. The site contains remnants from the Manhattan Project and Cold War adjacent to world-leading scientific research facilities. Today, the site is the nation’s largest national laboratory conducting advanced research with global impacts—developing new technology, employing 4,400 people, and attracting more than 40,000 researchers, guests, and precollege students annually. However, the central portion of the site contains more than 300 excess buildings, many of which have considerable radiological inventories and contamination from years of nuclear and isotope research. The EM program aims to complete legacy cleanup, enhance employee safety, and remove outdated facilities to modernize the central campus area and make room for new Office of Science missions.
The Y-12 National Security Complex is vital to the national security of the United States. Employees at the site conduct numerous operations that help secure our country and eliminate risks across the globe. However, the site currently has safety concerns, due to mercury in groundwater, and barriers to efficient operations, due to aged facilities. To modernize the site to meet the demands of 21st century protection and operations, EM is scheduled to remove 100 excess buildings and remove more than 700,000 pounds of mercury from groundwater. Our goals are to complete legacy cleanup and mercury remediation, demolish dilapidated facilities to reduce the high security area footprint, and modernize the site allowing Y-12 to incorporate new facilities and missions.