In less than five years, the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) Project has recycled or reused nearly 194 million pounds of materials and diverted more than 97 percent of the project’s total waste from landfills.
“Our recycling and reuse effort is the result of careful planning prior to the beginning of construction,” said UPF Project Director John Howanitz.
In the early stages of planning, UPF’s Construction and Environment, Safety & Health (ES&H) personnel teamed up to determine what types of waste would be generated during site preparation and how it could be converted to beneficial use.
Asphalt removed from parking lots and other areas of Y-12 was recycled and used onsite, and vegetation debris from clearing land became a barrier to prevent silt from entering streams and waterways.
From May 2013 through December 2017, UPF recycled or reused 64 million pounds of asphalt, 1.2 million pounds of mixed scrap metal, and more than 13 million pounds of wood.
UPF’s efforts resulted in an Environment and Energy Award from the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and Industry and an Environmental Stewardship Award from the National Nuclear Security Administration.
“The UPF team is committed to environmental sustainability, and we will continue to identify opportunities to recycle or reuse materials and divert material from landfills as construction progresses,” Howanitz said.
Y-12 made history by opening and operating Building 9204-4 (Beta-4) in 1945 to house the workhorse Calutrons that separated uranium for the first atomic bomb. The building later was recycled to house Cold-War processes, including the production of lithium-6. Almost 75 years later, it is stepping through the complex process to prepare the 400,000 square-foot facility for eventual demolition.
Jack Bolinger is leading a diverse team to complete three phases of the Legacy Material Removal project in the building, and phase one just wrapped up. “The focus was to remove any equipment that wasn’t hardwired in or bolted down,” he said. The project was awarded in June 2017 and completed in February 2018. “The total amount of material shipped to the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility was approximately 2.71 million pounds and 932 cubic yards of equipment (that’s equal to 30 average-sized airplanes).”
This effort significantly lowers the risk in the building by removing the majority of combustible material and reducing the number of radiologically and beryllium-posted areas. A large portion of the building was down-posted from a high- to a fixed-contamination area, which means personnel are no longer required to dress out in personal protective equipment for these areas. Lifting this requirement will facilitate current surveillance and maintenance activities as well as future demolition and disposal activities.
“This huge undertaking would not have been possible for any single organization at Y-12 to handle on its own,” said Bolinger. He credits the multi-organizational team and their subcontractor, Gem Technologies, as instrumental in their success.
As one of the behemoth Calutron buildings, the sprawling three-story Beta-4 facility could house seven football fields. It was closed in 2003, still holding an array of leftover equipment, tools and remnants that tell its story of WWII, Cold War and post-war missions.
Y-12 is scheduled to turn Beta-4 over to Environmental Management by the end of 2020 for demolition, which will facilitate environmental cleanup, reduce the Y-12 footprint and minimize risk to the public.
There is no Planet B, so Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC (CNS) focuses on recycling everything from regular office paper to electronic equipment and scrap metal. In Fiscal Year 2017, employees at Pantex and Y-12 recycled more than 4.6 million pounds of materials, demonstrating their commitment to environmental stewardship.
The Uranium Processing Facility project continues to make progress with the recent completion of the Site Infrastructure and Services subproject.
“Completing the SIS subproject is an important step in paving the way for future subprojects and to ultimately deliver UPF,” said UPF Federal Project Director Dale Christenson.
SIS is the second of seven subprojects that will construct UPF. Work included the completion of a concrete batch plant and a 65,000-square-foot Construction Support Building. There also was building demolition, utility work, site grading and installation of new erosion protection and security features as part of the SIS subproject.
CNS, along with URS | CH2M Oak Ridge LLC (UCOR) and the Cooperative Agreement of Labor & Maintenance (an organization comprised of Oak Ridge Construction Employers and the Knoxville Building & Construction Trades Council), announced the first inaugural Apprenticeship Readiness Training Program taking place March 12–29.
Joe Kato, manager of Construction, said, “I am looking forward to introducing some of our local residents to the history of the building trades and the upcoming opportunities for construction workers in support of our national defense and environmental cleanup.”
Charlie Woody, president of KBCTC, said, “The KBCTC is very proud and excited to work with CNS and UCOR on the program. We appreciate the opportunity and know it will be successful due to the partnership we have.”
The classes are sponsored by North America’s Building Trades Unions and provide a gateway for local residents, particularly those from underserved communities, to gain access to apprenticeship programs. Apprenticeship Readiness Programs are administered by state and local Building Trades Councils and feature the Building Trades’ nationally recognized Multi-Craft Core Curriculum.