Crews demolish first reactor in Oak Ridge’s central campus

November 15, 2022, 7:00AMRadwaste Solutions
Crews completed the teardown of Oak Ridge’s Bulk Shielding Reactor (Building 3010), once used for research as part of the federal Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Program. (Photos: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management (EM) said its cleanup contractor UCOR recently completed the first-ever demolition of a reactor in the central campus area at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

Demolition of the Bulk Shielding Reactor complex, also known as Building 3010, is part of the ongoing decommissioning of aging facilities at ORNL’s “Reactor Hill,” as EM works to reduce risks and clear land for future research missions. Crews are continuing deactivation and demolition preparations at the adjacent Low Intensity Test Reactor and Oak Ridge Research Reactor, both of which are slated for near-term demolition.

“I’m proud of the pace of progress our crews achieved since demolition began in September,” said Nathan Felosi, ORNL portfolio federal project director for Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management. “Removing Building 3010 is a significant accomplishment for our program because it kicks off our efforts to start eliminating aging reactor facilities located in the heart of ORNL.”

Building 3010: The Bulk Shielding Reactor complex was built in the 1950s for radiation shielding studies as part of the federal Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Program. It included a 27-foot-deep reactor pool filled with water to shield the radioactive components contained in the pool. Its mission changed to a general-purpose research reactor in 1963 and was shut down permanently in 1991.

The reactor was one of more than a dozen research reactors constructed at ORNL over multiple decades. Each contributed to ORNL’s reputation as a leader in cutting-edge nuclear research and development. The facility was one of 16 inactive research reactors and isotope facilities EM is addressing at ORNL.

Remaining work: EM said that work continues at the reactor site to finish reducing the size of debris from the teardown and haul debris to a disposal facility. Workers are expected to complete packaging and disposal of the 250 truckloads of waste and debris generated by this project by the end of November.

Predemolition activities included the removal and disposal of irradiated components from the reactor pool. After those tasks, workers drained the 130,000 gallons of the water from the pool and sent it to an onsite treatment facility. Then the pool area was decontaminated and filled with a concrete mixture to close it.

In addition to stabilizing the reactor pool, workers removed asbestos and other waste from the facility.

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