(284e) Leading the Nation’s Nuclear Cleanup and Providing Sustainability | AIChE

(284e) Leading the Nation’s Nuclear Cleanup and Providing Sustainability


Rueter, K. - Presenter, UCOR URS | CH2M Oak Ridge LLC
While most engineers gain acclaim for the enduring projects they design and build, Ken is best known today for what he is demolishing and cleaning up. As President of UCOR, Ken guides and motivates a professional management team and hundreds of skilled workers as they successfully undertake the unprecedented task of removing environmental hazards and millions of square feet of unneeded government-owned facilities from the former Oak Ridge (TN) Gaseous Diffusion Plant – now known as the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP).
As a former uranium enrichment site, ETTP presents many cleanup challenges. Buildings planned for demolition are laced with radioactive materials, and years of unregulated waste disposal practices have polluted the soil and groundwater. The extent of contamination was not fully known, and the unsafe, deteriorated condition of many of the structures forced many delays in demolition. Known contaminants include radioactive elements, mercury, asbestos, polychlorinated biphenyls, and industrial wastes.
East Tennessee Technology Park is undergoing a dramatic transformation from its historic national security role as a gaseous diffusion plant – with all the problems posed by aging and contaminated facilities – to a modern private industrial park. As the former gaseous diffusion site is cleaned up, once-contaminated land and buildings are being repurposed for productive use by new job creating private sector ventures. Experiences and lessons learned in the first-ever cleanup of a gaseous diffusion complex anywhere will serve as a global model for reuse of unneeded nuclear facilities elsewhere in the world.


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