DOE Successfully Transfers SPRU Site, Achieving EM 2020 Priority; '2020 Year in Review’ Highlights EM Accomplishments, Cleanup Priorities; and much more!

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EM Update | Vol. 12, Issue 39 | Dec. 22, 2020


2020 a Year of Completions and Beginnings at Oak Ridge

In October, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette was joined by congressional, state, and local leaders to celebrate the completion of Vision 2020 at Oak Ridge. It marked the first time in the world an entire enrichment complex was removed.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. – While 2020 was an unusual and challenging year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was also one of the most notable and accomplished for DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management (OREM) and its contractors. Together, they competed the Department’s largest-ever cleanup effort and began a new chapter of work at Oak Ridge’s research and national security sites.

Check out this video on Oak Ridge's 2020 accomplishments. 

“I’m very proud of what our incredible workforce was able to accomplish despite all of the challenges and adjustments required to perform their jobs this year,” OREM Manager Jay Mullis said. “They made history and positioned us for another year of success and transformation in 2021.”

This year, Oak Ridge became the first site in the world to remove an entire uranium enrichment complex. This milestone was the culmination of two decades of decontamination, demolition, and soil remediation at the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP). The end result was the safe and successful removal of more than 500 structures. This work was completed four years ahead of schedule, avoiding $500 million in costs to taxpayers.

OREM also finished construction and opened the K-25 History Center at ETTP, which fulfilled a longstanding commitment to preserve the site’s rich history. Over the past decade, nearly 1,000 oral histories were collected from former Manhattan Project and Cold War workers. These personal stories were used to develop the center’s exhibits and galleries.


Only a month after completing DOE’s largest environmental cleanup project at the East Tennessee Technology Park this year, workers started demolition on the Biology Complex at the Y-12 National Security Complex.


Workers continued construction on the Outfall 200 Mercury Treatment Facility in 2020.


Crews install the framework for a protective cover over the hot cells at Building 3026 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This cover will ensure nearby facilities and ongoing missions are not impacted when the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management demolishes the structure.

With core cleanup complete at ETTP, OREM began transitioning the workers responsible for that historic success to the next big cleanup endeavor at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) and Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12).

Drawing from their extensive training and experience from ETTP, these workers started projects that address DOE’s largest inventory of high-risk excess contaminated facilities. Preparations are underway to remove Building 3026’s hot cells at ORNL, and crews started tearing down the final buildings in the Biology Complex at Y-12. OREM also initiated other deactivation and pre-demolition projects that will advance cleanup at ORNL and Y-12 in the years ahead.

At ORNL, OREM continued to process and dispose of the remaining uranium-233 inventory. Part of this process involves extracting valuable medical isotopes for next-generation cancer treatment research by the private sector. Crews continued processing the low-dose portion of the inventory, while others prepared the facility to process the high-dose inventory starting next year.

OREM also spent 2020 building infrastructure that will play a pivotal role in cleanup. Construction continued on the Outfall 200 Mercury Treatment Facility, which is a linchpin project for Y-12’s cleanup. Workers also began constructing the Sludge Processing Mock Test Facility. When complete next year, the facility will mature the technologies needed to process Oak Ridge’s 500,000-gallon inventory of sludge transuranic waste stored onsite.

-Contributor: Ben Williams

The Art and Science of Welding at Hanford’s WTP


The Effluent Management Facility completion team on the Hanford Site finished the last of 8,000 welds in that facility this year.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Hundreds of the best welders from across the country have put their mark on EM’s massive Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant (WTP) at the Hanford Site.

Working for EM Office of River Protection contractor Bechtel National Inc., the welders have completed tens of thousands of welds throughout the plant’s complex facilities, including 8,000 in the Effluent Management Facility alone. Each weld must meet strict codes and quality standards to ensure WTP will operate safely.

“We’re all assigned numbers that we stencil on our welds,” said Ray Senior, welder and Local 598 union steward. “Everyone knows who did each one on this job. They can walk by and look at them, run a hand over them. We take pride in that, for ourselves and our unions — we want our work to be perfect.”

WTP is nearing the end of its welding story on facilities that will treat Hanford’s low-activity tank waste. The Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste (DFLAW) facilities at WTP are nearly complete. DFLAW is a system of interdependent projects and infrastructure improvements, managed and highly integrated as a program, that must operate together successfully to vitrify, or immobilize in glass, the low-activity waste.

Processing the waste safely is largely reliant on carefully welded vessels and extensive piping configurations running underground and throughout the plant’s infrastructure and facilities. They will carry the waste, water, steam, and other essential materials, and they must be constructed to strict safety and quality standards.

The welders working on WTP are highly skilled and pre-qualified by their unions before being sent to the project. Even then, they must pass three hands-on tests in the onsite weld shop. After passing the tests, the welders complete training on safety, quality, and WTP’s processes and procedures before they’re ever allowed to touch torch to metal in a facility.

“It’s not unique to have to qualify to weld on a job, but it is unique to have to pass three tests that are as difficult as the ones we have here,” said Steve Davis, Bechtel senior welding field engineer in charge of the weld shop. “In my 40 years at nuclear power plants across the country, I’ve never seen tests as hard as ours.”

-Contributor: Staci West

New Cranes Ready to Support Cleanup at Hanford Site


Three new mobile hydraulic cranes recently replaced Hanford Site machinery from the 1990s. A 30-ton capacity crane is parked between a pair of 80-ton capacity cranes that will be used by EM Richland Operations Office contractor Mission Support Alliance for projects throughout the site.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Modernizing essential equipment is another sign of dynamic change at the Hanford Site as workers prepare to treat tank waste and continue to make progress on risk-reducing cleanup.

Crews from EM Richland Operations Office contractor Mission Support Alliance (MSA) recently inspected and readied three new mobile hydraulic cranes for service. The fleet additions include one crane with a 30-ton capacity and two offering an 80-ton capacity. The cranes will replace legacy equipment that has been in use since the early 1990s.


A new 30-ton mobile hydraulic crane is one of three cranes that recently arrived at the Hanford Site to support preparations to treat tank waste and progress risk-reducing cleanup.

The modern cranes will offer frequent and critical support for the tank waste retrieval and treatment mission by offloading new equipment, hoisting large pumps, and completing necessary maintenance.

“Modernizing the mobile crane fleet is an integral part of planning for the future,” said Sean McFadden, acting director of crane and rigging services for MSA. “When equipment is more reliable and easier to operate, we know we have enhanced the current operations and have made an important step forward in preparing for 24/7 operations. When the cranes are needed, they will be ready.”

-Contributor: Robin Wojtanik

Paducah Site Contractor Receives Environmental Leadership Award

PADUCAH, Ky.EM’s infrastructure support contractor for the Portsmouth/Paducah Project Office’s Paducah Site recently received the Kentucky Excellence in Environmental Leadership Champion Award from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.

The award is given to companies that demonstrate outstanding stewardship of Kentucky’s environment through energy conservation, improving air quality, minimizing waste, or helping Kentuckians participate in environmental stewardship behaviors.

The recipient of the award, Swift & Staley Inc., is charged with responsibility for the Paducah Site recycling program, including promoting recycling in the local community and surrounding areas.


Pictured is one of five cigarette-recycling containers provided by EM contractor Swift & Staley, Inc. It was placed in Paducah by city officials.

During 2019, Swift & Staley participated in community outreach projects that taught environmental awareness and the benefits of pollution prevention through hands-on projects and employee-participation events. These included plastic cap recycling projects with youth from the 4Rivers 4-H Homeschool Club, Morgan Elementary School Tornado Force youth group, and the Oscar Cross Boys and Girls Club.

The plastic cap recycling program was initiated in response to the temporary loss of recycling services during the period when plastics were not being accepted by China, which resulted in the loss of the site’s recycling vendor. After services were restored, Swift & Staley expanded the program to involve area youth groups.

The contractor also promotes recycling and cleanup efforts with the city of Paducah. Last year, Swift & Staley assisted in the removal of 1,100 pounds of trash from shorelines and scenic drives at the Land Between the Lakes (LBL) National Recreation Area in association with Friends of LBL.

“Swift & Staley is proud to accept this award, and we continue to look for innovative ways to promote green practices such as recycling both at the Paducah Site and in the local community,” said Project Manager Tammy Courtney.

-Contributor: C. Armstrong

Next EM Update Scheduled Jan. 12

The EM Update will not be published on Tuesday, Dec. 29 and Tuesday, Jan. 5. We will return to our regular publishing schedule on Tuesday, Jan. 12.

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