Demolition of final Biology Complex building begins at Oak Ridge

March 26, 2021, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
Demolition begins on the six-story, 255,000-square-foot Building 9207, the final building in the former Biology Complex at Oak Ridge. Photo: DOE

Workers with the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) recently began demolishing the last facility standing in the former Biology Complex at the Y-12 National Security Complex at the Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee.

As announced by EM on March 23, removal of the massive six-story, 255,000-square-foot Building 9207 creates a new chapter of transformation and modernization for Y-12. Completion of the Biology Complex demolition is one of EM’s 2021 priorities.

According to EM, the facilities in the Biology Complex presented significant structural risks due to their deterioration, and their condition landed them on DOE’s list of high-risk excess contaminated facilities.

The history: The Biology Complex, which dates back to the 1940s, was originally comprised of 11 buildings. It was initially constructed for recovering uranium from process streams, but was later used for research that led to strides in understanding genetics and the effects of radiation. When operational, the facilities once housed more individuals with doctorates than anywhere in the world, according to EM.

The Building 9207 teardown comes only weeks after EM and cleanup contractor UCOR completed demolition on the three-story, 65,000-square-foot Building 9210.

New cleanup phase: Following the completion last year of the decommissioning of the K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Plant at Oak Ridge’s East Tennessee Technology Park, EM has begun another phase of cleanup that involves addressing hundreds of excess, contaminated, and deteriorating facilities scattered throughout Y-12 and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. EM said that these obsolete facilities present hazards and occupy land that can be used for future research and national security missions.

Removal of the Biology Complex, EM said, represents a significant skyline change and it is the first of many DOE projects that will clear away former Manhattan Project and Cold War buildings.

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