OAK RIDGE (WATE) - Demolition wrapped up Thursday on a building that played a pivotal role in the history of our area and in a transformational event in human history.
The building housed the K-25 gaseous diffusion plant at the Department of Energy complex in Oak Ridge and was at one time the largest building in the world under one roof.
It was at K-25 where Manhattan Project workers enriched uranium for the bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.
K-25 was used until 1964, and for the past five years, the building has been being demolished piece by piece. The last portion of the building came down Thursday.
It took 12,000 workers 18 months to build the K-25 building in 1943.
On Thursday only one section of the historic building remained, and in a matter of only a few seconds, it too was gone.
Former federal regulator Joe Lenhard worked inside the building in 1957.
"This was a very important facility," said Lenhard. "It supplied energy. It supplied enriched uranium to Y-12 to make that very first weapon that ended World War II."
This is the largest demolition project the Department of Energy has ever completed.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman says this demolition means much more than just a pile of rubble.
"This facility helped built the arsenal that defended American freedom all during the Cold War," said Secretary Poneman. "We have a commitment as a nation, to the facility, and to the people who built it, and defended the nation, to now, that the work is done, the noble cause has been fulfilled, to take it down and to fulfill our commitment to return this site to the community."
There are several ideas for what can be done with the site now.
Congressman Chuck Fleischmann is working on developing the area.
"This site would be an ideal site, once it's fully cleaned up, for what we do here, probably better than anywhere in the country, and that's reindustralization," said Rep. Fleischmann.
They plan to have all the rubble removed from the site by spring 2014.
The Energy Department is planning construction on a three-story equipment building that recreates a scale representation of the gaseous diffusion technology and contains authentic equipment used in the original facility to preserve the history of the K-25 building.
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