Weapons Complex Monitor Vol. 31 No. 30
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July 24, 2020

Oak Ridge Cleanup Contractor Lands 2-Year Extension

By Wayne Barber

The Energy Department has agreed to a contract extension lasting as long as two years for the incumbent remediation vendor at the Oak Ridge Site in Tennessee.

The DOE Office of Environmental Management announced Monday it will exercise a one-year extension to keep URS/CH2M Oak Ridge (UCOR) on the job thorough July 2021. That would be followed by up to two six-month options.

The current $3.3 billion contract held by the Amentum-Jacobs joint venture started in August 2011 and is set to expire July 31.

While the timeframe is approved, negotiations are ongoing with the contractor to finalize the scope, terms, and cost associated with the extension, a DOE spokesperson said in a Tuesday email. Details should be worked out this fall and will be publicly available then, the spokesperson said.

The Energy Department has said it could by November issue a request for proposals for a new Oak Ridge Site cleanup contract. The eventual award could run for up to 10 years and be worth $6 billion.

“UCOR has been a tremendous partner since they began their work here in 2011, and their efforts have aided us in reaching our biggest achievements to date,” Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management Manager Jay Mullis said in the release.

The vendor is winding down remediation of the East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 uranium enrichment complex, which includes removing old buildings and disposing of waste.

The contractor and DOE said Thursday that demolition is underway on K-1600, the final building in the gaseous diffusion facility that ceased operation in 1987 and was permanently closed in 1989. Centrus Energy leased the K-1600 testing and demonstration building since 2002 and finished decommissioning the structure in 2019. The demolition should be finished by UCOR this year.

Under DOE’s “Vision 2020” framework, the completion of ETTP remediation will mark the first time a former uranium enrichment complex has been dismantled and removed. The other two gaseous diffusion plants in weapons complex are located in Piketon, Ohio and Paducah, Ky.

The Energy Department is seeking to remediate the 2,200-acre ETTP property and turn it over for development into a privately owned multi-use industrial park. 

The contractor is now shifting its ETTP workforce to projects at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Y-12 National Security Complex, UCOR President and CEO Ken Rueter said in Monday’s press release. The Y-12 Complex is overseen by the semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration.

The main near-term project at the Y-12 National Security Complex is deactivation and demolition of the Biology Complex, a set of buildings constructed to recover uranium from process streams. Six of the 11 facilities that comprise the facility have already been dismantled and asbestos removal is mostly complete at the two largest remaining buildings, according to DOE.

At the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the removal of the Building 3026 hot cells is a priority item. Hot cells are heavily shielded concrete rooms designed to offer researchers protection from radiotive material. The Energy Department recently said workers have nearly installed a high-rise protective tent to provide cover while the final two hot cells from Building 3026 are demolished.

The Office of Environmental Management has suggested there is probably 30 years of remediation remaining at the Oak Ridge Site, including dismantling mercury-laden buildings and groundwater remediation.

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