Oak Ridge crews took down numerous facilities to complete the historic first-ever removal of a uranium enrichment complex this year. Pictured is the Centrifuge Complex, which towered 180 feet tall in some sections. (UCOR photo)

OR cleanup earns prestigious federal honor

(DOE OREM/UCOR press release) The federal Department of Energy’s (DOE) Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) and its environmental cleanup contractor UCOR were honored Nov. 12 with the Government Team Project of the Year Award.

The recognition was part of the national 2020 Washington Exec Pinnacle Awards, which go to top businesses and organizations that are saving money and fostering innovation.

According to a release from cleanup officials, Oak Ridge received the award for its “significant effort” involved in completing major cleanup operations earlier this year at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP), a former uranium enrichment complex. This accomplishment, two decades in the making, removed more than 500 dilapidated and contaminated structures and opened land for economic development for the community, according to the release.

The award highlighted the effectiveness and efficiency of the work by OREM and UCOR, according to federal officials, as crews were able to complete the project $80 million under budget and four years ahead of schedule, avoiding an estimated $500 million in costs to taxpayers.

“I’m very proud to be part of this federal team and to be partnered with an outstanding contractor like UCOR,” OREM Manager Jay Mullis said in the release. “Together, we’ve completed DOE’s largest cleanup project to date and established a well-deserved reputation of conducting our work safely, on time, and cost effectively.”

A view of the East Tennessee Technology Park after cleanup was completed at the former uranium enrichment complex this year. The work was completed four years ahead of schedule, saving taxpayers $500 million. (Submitted)

The award cited numerous innovative approaches taken to achieve the accomplishment that resulted in a historic first-ever removal of a uranium enrichment complex. Those innovations included reducing or eliminating the need for human entry into potentially hazardous environments, implementing a dispose-as-you-go waste approach, and creating a secure onsite disposal facility connected to ETTP by a private road exclusively used for waste shipments.

UCOR President and CEO Ken Rueter said that a strong partnership with the client and a workforce dedicated to safety were key to success.

“Our shared governance approach brought all of the players to the table and everyone had a voice — our client, our workforce, labor, regulators, and various stakeholders within the community,” Rueter said. “This strong collaborative approach enabled this very successful outcome.”

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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