Pine Ridge can be seen from the heart of Oak Ridge. It runs behind neighborhoods and is an important landmark in the Oak Ridge community. A new project that would affect that ridge has the people of Oak Ridge upset.
“They’re going along the crest of the only untouched ridge in Oak Ridge,” said resident Thomas Row. “They will be going past the only black community that is still a black community in our city.”
Row is referring to power lines. The National Nuclear Security Administration, along with the Uranium Processing Facility, is planning to put power lines on top of Pine Ridge.
Dale Christenson with the Uranium Processing Facility says the power lines are necessary to the overall project.
“We’re building a new substation,” said Christenson. “The existing substation is nearing the end of it’s useful life and for a UPF brand new facility. we needed a reliable power source to that new facility.”
These power lines are causing the community to be concerned.
“I think these power lines are way too visible,” said Martic McBride of Oak Ridge. “I think they could be put on the side of the hill and make it so they do not inconvenience Anderson County or the people of Scarboro”
Scarboro is the only African-American community in Oak Ridge.
“if your the Department of Energy you need to be careful and make sure you are taking the considerations of the community in hand when you design your plant,” said McBride.
Christenson with UPF says it has listened to community and is modifying plans to ease the tension.
“The transmission pole, it’s a two pole structure, and there is 16 structures along the ridge itself,” said Christenson. “They are approximately 80 feet in height. All the poles will be at or below the tree line so the poles will not visible to the community itself.”
UPF says the ridge is the optimal place for these power lines to go and that they are necessary for the project.