Construction of the Mercury Treatment Facility at the Department of Energy’s Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee will ceremonially begin next Monday with assistance from two U.S. lawmakers.
Scheduled to attend the 10 a.m. Nov. 20 groundbreaking ceremony are Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouilette, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.).
The Energy Department believes roughly 700,000 pounds of mercury infiltrated structures, soils, sediments, and the air as over 20 million pounds of the toxic substance were employed from the 1950s to 1960s at Y-12 in processing lithium for nuclear weapons. The treatment facility is intended to curb releases of mercury into the Upper East Fork Poplar Creek, which passes through Y-12 and into the city of Oak Ridge, and to aid in remediation of the nuclear facility itself.
The Energy Department’s lead cleanup contract at the Oak Ridge Reservation, URS-CH2M Oak Ridge (UCOR), in September awarded a $1.4 million subcontract for site preparation for the mercury facility. GEM Technologies is scheduled to complete its work next fall, after which construction should begin.
The mercury facility is scheduled to be operational by 2024, when UCOR’s contract for cleanup at Oak Ridge ends.