Historic demolition: Once world’s largest building under one roof, K-25 now only a memory

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While celebrations for the holiday season were underway, the U.S. Department of Energy commemorated a milestone of its own.

Six days before Christmas, demolition of the K-25 gaseous diffusion building, the largest facility in the DOE complex at the K-25 complex in Roane County, was officially completed.

“Today marks a tremendous accomplishment for the American people — advancing our commitment to the safe and complete cleanup of former Manhattan Project sites,” said Deputy Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman at a ceremony marking the occasion.

The five-year demolition project — the largest ever in DOE history — was completed ahead of schedule. All debris shipments are expected to be completed in spring 2014.

“While there is still important clean-up work to do, completing the demolition of the K-25 gaseous diffusion building and doing so ahead of schedule and under budget is a testament to the outstanding Oak Ridge workforce.”

The K-25 building at the East Tennessee Technology Park, formerly known as the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant, was built in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project.

At the time of the Manhattan Project, K-25 was the world’s largest building under one roof.

The K-25 building operated until 1964, producing enriched uranium for defense and commercial purposes.

During the past decades, as the facility deteriorated, its demolition was considered among the highest priorities for the environmental cleanup program in Oak Ridge.

With the demolition of the K-25 building, only two of the five original gaseous diffusion buildings remain.

The K-25 building demolition project began in December 2008, when Bechtel Jacobs Co. LLC completed demolition of the west wing. URS|CH2M Oak Ridge LLC, or UCOR, took over the project in August 2011 and successfully completed demolition of the building’s east wing and north end.

Though no more, the K-25 building’s historical significance will live on. In 2012, a multi-year plan was finalized to commemorate the K-25 complex, which contained more than 500 facilities including the K-25 building.

DOE will construct a three-story equipment building that recreates a scale representation of the gaseous diffusion technology and contains authentic equipment used in the original facility. Artifacts, oral histories, photographs and videos, and a K-25 History Center will be in the facility.