Landfill site delayed at Oak Ridge, but cleanup continues

4 November 2019

The planned release of a draft record of decision (ROD) for a landfill facility at the Oak Ridge Site has been delayed until December.

The ROD for the new 2.2-million-cubic yard has been delayed several times since May. The new Environmental Management Disposal Facility is intended to replace the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility, which will reach its capacity limit in the 2020s and which holds waste from the demolition of buildings by AECOM-led contractor UCOR at Oak Ridge’s East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP). The ETTP enriched uranium for the US nuclear weapons programme and the facilities are now being dismantled.
 
The new landfill facility, to be built in the Oak Ridge Site’s Bear Creek Valley, would take low-level radioactive and mixed waste from clean-up at the Y-12 National Security Complex and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Before issuing the ROD, officials from DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (OEM), the Environmental Protection Agency, and the state of Tennessee want to reach agreement on regulating landfill wastewater effluents containing radionuclides.
 
Meanwhile, demolition has begun a the ETTP centrifuge complex. The OEM announced on 29 October. The complex covers more than 235,000 square feet and sections of it reach heights of 180 feet. The ETTP complex was built in stages to develop and test centrifuge uranium enrichment technology. The last of the facilities ceased operation in the mid-1980s.

Oak Ridge crews are removing debris from the K-1004-J Lab demolition, which began earlier this month with the aim of completing major cleanup at the site by the end of 2020. The K-1004-J Lab, a Manhattan Project facility, was built for research and development in 1944. The rest of the complex was built around this original site-building in the 1970s. While demolition has started in one section of the complex, teams are in other buildings conducting deactivation activities to prepare them for removal in the coming months, OEM said.

During the deactivation phase, crews remove hazards and ensure safe and efficient demolition of structures. They disconnect all power and utilities, perform characterisation and sampling work, remove asbestos and other waste, and inspect, drain, and remove a significant amount of piping and equipment.

“The Centrifuge Complex project will mark one of the most significant landscape changes we’ve achieved at ETTP,” said Jay Mullis, manager of OEM’s Oak Ridge Office. “It highlights our progress, and its removal will transform the appearance at the front of the site and pave the way for ETTP’s next chapter.” Deactivation of the entire complex is scheduled to be completed early next year, and demolition and waste removal are slated for completion next summer.
 

OEM and cleanup contractor UCOR are cleaning ETTP while working to transfer cleaned areas and facilities to the private sector under the site's reindustrialisation programme. They aim to convert the former government complex into a multi-use industrial park. To date, Oak Ridge’s clean-up programme has taken down facilities spanning 12 million square feet, transferred more than 1200 acres of land for economic development, and placed more than 3000 acres in a conservation easement for recreational use by the community.



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