OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (WATE) — The East Tennessee Technology Park is in its final stages of cleanup, with workers removing 200,000 pounds of material from a creek bank at the site, a release says. A project manager said that the material included asbestos panels.
After the buildings in the area came down, the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) and its contactor UCOR focused on soil remediation and other projects to return the land back to the community, according to the release.
Part of those efforts focused on the banks of Poplar Creek, which winds through the 2,200-acre site. According to UCOR, workers removed 200,000 pounds of transite material from the creek bank.
“This material was disposed of on the creek bank many years ago,” UCOR Project Manager Don Gagel said. “Our goal was to remove all visible transite as part of a remedial action in that section of ETTP.”
Some of the material removed from the hundreds of feet of shoreline near Environmental Unit 17 included “historical asbestos panels” that had been disposed of along the creek, Gagel explained in a video released by UCOR on Feb. 27. UCOR explained that the material was used in the construction of facilities during the early days of operations at the site during the Manhattan Project and Cold War.
Gagel added that once it was verified that all visible transite was removed, crews would work to protect and stabilize the shoreline. According to UCOR, the bank was covered with riprap to prevent erosion until the vegetation is re-established.
UCOR added that additional cleanup of other sections of the creek will take place in the coming months. According to the release, OREM and UCOR are working to complete all soil remediation at the site next year.
Currently, the East Tennessee Technology Park is home to 25 businesses. The K-25 Center, which is adjacent to a Manhattan Project National Historical Park, has attracted nearly 15,000 visitors from across the nation so far in 2023, the release says.
OREM and UCOR are also working with the state to enhance conservation and recreation opportunities at the site. One proposed idea, UCOR said, is to create a “blueway,” which would allow visitors to canoe and kayak through the area’s waterways.