Alexander: Historic Achievement at Oak Ridge is the Model for Successfully Cleaning Up Dept. of Energy Sites

Praises the Department, the contractors and the local community for the completion of Vision 2016 which will help bring more jobs to East Tennessee

Posted on August 30, 2016

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., August 30, 2016 – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today praised the Department of Energy (DOE), the contractors and the local community for the completion of the decade-long Vision 2016 project.

"Oak Ridge is the model of how successful cleanup should be done, and the completion of Vision 2016 is the most recent example,” Alexander said. “Today marks the end of an era – the last of the five uranium enrichment buildings in Oak Ridge have been cleaned up - making land available for new companies and new jobs coming to East Tennessee. Tennessee should be extremely proud of the men and women who have worked for more than a decade to complete the demolition and continue the cleanup at the East Tennessee Technology Park.” 

Speaking to the more than 1,500 employees and contractors that worked on the Vision 2016 project, Alexander said cleanup projects at the East Tennessee Technology Park have averaged five months ahead of schedule and have been under budget, and the demolition of these high-risk facilities will “pave the way for new good-paying jobs to East Tennessee."

“As chairman of the Senate appropriations subcommittee that provides funding and oversight for cleanup at Department of Energy sites across the country, I have made cleanup at Oak Ridge a priority. This year, we were able to secure about $440 million for cleanup work at East Tennessee Technology Park, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Y-12 National Security Complex.”

Alexander continued, “The efficient cleanup that has been completed is a testament to how well the department has worked with regulators and the local community. In all, there are over 1700 people directly supporting the cleanup effort, either as federal employees or contractors. In addition, there are 175 jobs that have been created by the companies that moved into parts of the East Tennessee Technology Park that have been cleaned up and turned over to the private sector. When issues have arisen, they have been resolved by people working together to get a result – not by the courts, and that has allowed more money to be spent on cleanup, not legal fees and court costs.”

“Thanks to years of hard work and a lot of effort, more than 720 acres of land and 332,000 square feet of building space has been made available for new economic development, leading to an estimated $100 million private investment in technology, industry and renewables"

Last year, Alexander suggested naming the four-lane highway from the Knoxville airport to Oak Ridge the ‘Oak Ridge Corridor,’ because the area’s scientific brainpower, energy research and technological capabilities are some of the "best in the world." Alexander today said, “the success of Oak Ridge’s cleanup efforts is further evidence of the brainpower, research and resources in the area.”

Today, Alexander attended the Vision 2016 celebration and employee recognition luncheon to mark the demolition of the last gaseous diffusion plant building at the East Tennessee Technology Park. These gaseous diffusion plants were used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors. Alexander told employees, “While this is an important milestone, there is more work to be done.”

Work still remains to complete the remainder of the cleanup at East Tennessee Technology Park, which is currently planned to be completed by 2020. Cleanup of the Y-12 site and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory will take even longer to complete. Alexander said, “The work done so far puts us on a good path toward meeting those goals.”

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