Y-12’s Alpha-2 building prepped for demolition in early 2024

August 16, 2023, 7:01AMRadwaste Solutions
The Alpha-2 building at Y-12 in Oak Ridge is a former uranium enrichment facility that dates to the Manhattan Project era. (Photo: DOE)

The Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management said that crews have completed major deactivation efforts at the Alpha-2 building at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn. The former uranium enrichment facility is scheduled for demolition next year.

Oak Ridge workers remove asbestos piping from inside Alpha-2. (Photo: DOE)

Deactivation work on Alpha-2, a multistory Manhattan Project–era building that spans nearly 325,000 square feet, began in 2020. This month, the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management and its contractor United Cleanup Oak Ridge (UCOR) completed the major deactivation work, which included clearing asbestos-contaminated piping, removing floor and ceiling tiles, and draining oil from equipment.

To date, crews have disposed of nearly 3,000 cubic yards of waste and removed 280,000 pounds of lead-shielding blocks.

Challenging environment: According to DOE-EM, the deactivation and demolition work at Oak Ridge presents unique challenges amid ongoing missions at Y-12. DOE-EM has been ramping up work to address the large inventory of excess facilities at Y-12, many of which are categorized as high risk due to their structural condition or contamination levels.

Alpha-2 is collocated with other active facilities at Y-12, requiring utilities to be rerouted prior to demolition. UCOR has been working closely with Y-12 management and operations contractor Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS) on that task, according to DOE-EM.

“Our close collaboration with CNS has allowed us to move our D&D mission forward while they continue their operating missions in close proximity to one another,” said UCOR project manager William Lloyd. “The result is a strengthened partnership and continued mission success for both.”

Next steps: Before the Alpha-2 demolition begins next year, workers must deactivate the basement and reroute nearby utilities. UCOR is helping CNS create a design for the rerouting, which will also enable demolition of the Old Steam Plant at Y-12. DOE-EM crews finished preparing the plant for teardown in 2021.

UCOR is on schedule to complete the basement deactivation work later this year and begin demolition in the spring, DOE-EM has indicated. In addition to eliminating a hazard from Oak Ridge, tearing down Alpha-2 will provide land for reuse at Y-12.

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