DOE’s environmental cleanup contractor is ready for the next chapter of his vision


As the primary environmental cleanup contractor since 2011 for the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Environmental Management Office, UCOR’s 2,000 team members have earned a reputation for environmental safety and stewardship. environment ; innovative problem solving; and an unwavering focus on delivering on our commitments. The partnerships we’ve helped forge with local, state and federal stakeholders are critical to that success.

Dan Macias of UCOR's Oak Ridge Reservation Environmental Cleanup Program in front of the former six-story biology compound at National Security Complex Y-12, Tuesday, March 23, 2021.

The culmination of these efforts was our collective “2020 Vision,” the first-ever cleanup of a former gaseous diffusion plant, which was delivered four years ahead of schedule, $80 million under budget, and eliminated $500 million in environmental liability. This has enabled significant beneficial land reuse in what our region now calls the Heritage Center (formerly the East Tennessee Technology Park). This land reuse includes private business opportunities, historic preservation and conservation to further the economic growth of Oak Ridge and the wider region.

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Ken Reuter

Building on key investments and developments such as Kairos Power and Coqui Pharmaceuticals, in early March the Heritage Center added another new tenant: Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. The company is a nuclear fuel manufacturer that will invest $13 million and create 31 new jobs at a new fuel manufacturing plant.

The DOE has already transferred 1,300 acres to the community for new economic development investments like Ultra Safe Nuclear. The department recently signed an agreement with the State of Tennessee to transfer an additional 3,500 acres for conservation and recreation purposes.

Each of these successes would not have been possible without the availability of a safe and licensed waste disposal facility on site. This site, the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility, kept thousands of trucks carrying waste from ETTP, National Security Complex Y-12 and Oak Ridge National Laboratory off public roads. In addition to increasing safety, the use of the EMWMF has allowed us to reduce carbon emissions and significantly speed up our cleaning activities for the taxpayer.

UCOR and its partners are now ready to move on to the next chapter of our ambitious vision shared with the DOE, “Vision 2031”. With this vision, we will simultaneously complete our commitments to the Heritage Center and fully transition our cleanup work to Y-12 and ORNL. This scope includes the demolition of aging facilities and land restoration to enable modernization in support of future national security and scientific missions at these sites, continuing Oak Ridge’s proud heritage in these areas. And like EMWMF, this next generation of cleaning will require a safe and licensed waste disposal facility on site: the Environmental Management Waste Disposal Facility.

As UCOR continues to build on the partnerships that have enabled the success of our Vision 2020, we are also committed to maintaining the highest standards of safety, ethics, sustainability and environmental protection in all that we will do to achieve Vision 2031. We look forward to continuing to earn your trust as we carry out this important and rewarding work for our region.

Ken Rueter is the President and CEO of UCOR, an Amentum-led partnership with Jacobs. UCOR is the Department of Energy’s primary environmental cleanup contractor on the Oak Ridge Reservation


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