The Department of Energy has received approval from the state of Tennessee to proceed with demolition of two Manhattan Project-era buildings at the Biology Complex within the Y-12 National Security Complex at the Oak Ridge Reservation.
Representatives from DOE and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) confirmed this week the state has given the green light for tear down of Buildings 9207 and 9210 at Y-12. Oak Ridge Today reported Saturday the Tennessee Historical Commission had signed off on the demolition in December. The Historical Commission is administratively attached to TDEQ.
The two buildings, completed in the 1940s, were part of a large chemical processing area. First built for recovery of uranium for the nuclear weapons program, the Biology Complex structures later became home to DOE’s research on the genetic effects of radiation. The Energy Department has said buildings within the complex once housed more individuals with doctorate degrees than anywhere in the world.
A TDEC subagency administers a 1990s agreement between the state, DOE, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on remediation of federal facilities at the Oak Ridge Reservation. “We needed that approval to move forward,” a DOE spokesperson said by telephone Monday. Both buildings are considered high-risk due to radiological, chemical, and physical hazards, according to DOE presentations posted online.
The Energy Department currently expects demolition of the two buildings will be completed in 2021.
The DOE Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management and cleanup contractor URS-CH2M Oak Ridge (UCOR) finished characterization work in spring 2017 that showed the decades-old Biology Complex buildings had significant concentrations of asbestos and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Two noncontaminated structures were demolished last year, with other facilities scheduled to begin this summer.