Old Y‑12 utility poles put to use for recreation and training

Posted: May 31, 2012 - 8:25am

Maintenance Support and Utilities Management personnel at the Y‑12 National Security Complex have taken steps to make sure old utility poles aren’t sent to the landfill.

“We tried to donate them to area organizations, but Y‑12 didn’t have the equipment to transport the poles on Tennessee highways,” said Daniel Diden, a planner and estimator in Y‑12’s Maintenance Support organization. Neither did these organizations. But finding a good home for Y‑12’s old utility poles seemed the right thing to do.

When Diden worked for Plateau Electric in Wartburg some time ago, the company donated old poles to Lone Mountain State Forest in Morgan County, a favorite area for local horseback riders who use its more than 20 miles of trails. Diden was familiar with how old utility poles had been put to use there, and he wondered if the state forest could use some more poles.

Y‑12’s Maintenance Support and Utilities Management worked with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture to ensure old utility poles weren’t delivered to the landfill.

Diden contacted the Lone Mountain office of the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Forestry Division to see if there was interest. The Division of Forestry, equipped with lumber trucks and related equipment, was pleased to receive the offer.

After the old utility poles were inspected and approved for off-site use, six forestry service employees brought five lumber trucks on site in October 2011. Y‑12’s line crew cut the 90-foot poles into smaller sections and helped load the trucks. The lumber trucks eventually hauled away more than 100 poles. Utilities Management line crew supervisor Donald Bates reflected, “The forestry service had the transportation and the need. It was a great partnership.” Soon several of the poles had a new life in Lone Mountain State Forest’s parking lots.

Cables pass through holes in waist-high sections of the poles, creating a border and confining vehicles and horse trailers to designated parking areas. In the near future, forestry personnel will use some of the poles as structure posts for a much-needed pavilion that will provide cover for Morgan and Roane County wildland firefighting equipment. Other sections of the poles will be used to block motorized vehicles from using the horse trails.

Former Y‑12 utility poles now provide a parking lot perimeter at Lone Mountain State Forest.

Additional uses for the old poles have been found. The U.S. Department of Energy is using some of the old poles at its secure transportation courier training facility in Oak Ridge. Some of the poles have been used to build a façade for a bunker on a live firing range. Additional poles have been stockpiled, and a combat conditioning course will be built as soon as funding is provided.

“Between 50 and 100 poles are still available,” said Bates, “and we’re getting ready to take down several more.” Other establishments, including the Knoxville Zoo, are gaining interest. Mike Disney, Y‑12 Power Operations section manager, said, “It’s good that we can help other agencies, save tax dollars, and help save the environment all at the same time. Opportunities like this don’t happen very often.”

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