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Final demolition at US uranium enrichment complex via World Nuclear News

National, state and local officials joined nearly 1500 employees on 30 August to watch as the final wall of building K-27 was pulled down. Demolition of the four-storey, 383,000 square foot (36,000 square metre) building began in February.

The first gaseous diffusion uranium enrichment facility established at Oak Ridge was K-25, which was built in the early 1940s to supply and produce highly enriched uranium for the Manhattan Project. In 1945, K-25 was the largest building in the world. By 1955 the complex had expanded to include five gaseous diffusion buildings – K-25, K-27, K-29, K-33 and K-31 – and continued to supply highly enriched uranium for US defence programs and low-enriched uranium for civil nuclear power reactors until the mid-1980s.

The final gaseous diffusion enrichment equipment at the plant shut down in August 1985 and the DOE formally terminated enrichment operations at the site in 1987, when it was renamed the East Tennessee Technology Park (ETTP). The DOE’s Office of Environmental Management began the work of cleaning up the ETTP site in 1989. Demolition of the K-25, K-29, K-33 and K-31 buildings was completed between 2006 and 2015. The footprint of the demolished K-25 building is now part of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Oak Ridge.

The demolition of the last of the former gaseous diffusion enrichment buildings completes Vision 2016, DOE’s goal to remove all of the former uranium enrichment buildings at the site by the end of 2016. It also marks the first time a former uranium enrichment complex anywhere in the world has been cleaned and demolished, according to the Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management.

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