Demolition of Oak Ridge centrifuge facility begins

31 October 2019

Demolition of the most visible remaining structures at Oak Ridge's East Tennessee Technology Park - the Centrifuge Complex - has started as employees aim to finish major cleanup work at the site by the end of 2020.

Removing debris from the K-1004-J Lab demolition (Image: DOE EM)

The complex spans more than 235,000 square feet (over 21,800 square metres) and is up to 180 feet (55 metres) high. It was built in stages to develop and test centrifuge uranium enrichment technology. The last of these facilities ceased operation in the mid-1980s, the US Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management (DOE EM) said.

Workers are demolishing a portion of the complex that includes the K-1004-J Lab, a research and development facility built in 1944 as part of the Manhattan Project around which the rest of the facility was constructed in the 1970s. While demolition continues in that part of the complex, teams are conducting deactivation activities in other buildings to prepare them for removal in the coming months. This involves the removal of hazards to ensure safe and efficient demolition of structures: disconnection of power and utilities; characterisation and sampling; the removal of asbestos and other waste; and inspection, drainage and removal of piping and equipment as required.


Demolition is now under way on the Centrifuge Complex (Image: DOE EM)

"The Centrifuge Complex project will mark one of the most significant landscape changes we’ve achieved at ETTP," Jay Mullis, manager of the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management, said.

Deactivation of the entire complex is scheduled to be completed in early 2020 with demolition and waste removal to be completed next summer. Cleaned areas and facilities will be transferred to the private sector under the site's reindustrialisation programme as the former government complex transforms into a multi-use industrial park.


An aerial view of the complex (Image: DOE EM)

Researched and written by World Nuclear News