Demolition begins on last building at former Oak Ridge uranium enrichment complex

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OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WATE) — One of the final standing pieces of Oak Ridge’s WWII and Cold War past is coming down.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management and contractor UCOR have begun demolishing the final structure at the East Tennessee Technology Park, the 42,000-square-foot Building K-1600.

This marks the final extermination to end a decadeslong effort to remove the uranium enrichment complex. 

Since the K-25 footprint is part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, the demolition of Building K-1600 will increase accessibility and remove risks in the area for future use. The site will have more than 100 acres for for historic preservation efforts.

“As we finish up here, which is the culmination of 15 years of hard work by a lot of folks and finish up all the major decontamination and demolition the facilities, what we envision for the site is a historic preservation mission, which you see is part of the history center over here. We also have a conservation easement that we’ve set aside over 3000 acres for conservation,” said OREM manager Jay Mullis.  

The East Tennessee Technology Park, formerly known as the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant, once contained five massive uranium enrichment buildings, including the world’s largest building at the time of its construction, along with hundreds of support facilities.

The site dates back to the Manhattan Project and continued to expand its operations during the Cold War. Those operations ended in 1987, and the site was closed permanently in 1989. 

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