Uranium Fire at US Nuclear Facility Triggers Evacuation, Major Emergency Response


A fire broke out at a maximum security Department of Energy nuclear storage facility in eastern Tennessee on Wednesday morning.

A uranium fire started at 9:14 a.m at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Building 9212, a uranium processing facility, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, WATE-TV reported, citing a news release from the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

The building and others in the adjacent areas were evacuated.

The cause of the fire is not yet known, although authorities are investigating.

A “shelter in place” order was given but later rescinded.

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The Y-12 National Security Complex said in a statement there was no contamination of the area as a result of the fire.

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“An incident has occurred at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge,” the statement read. “Y-12 emergency response personnel are at the scene of the incident. Appropriate precautionary protective actions have been initiated for Y-12 employees who are in the vicinity of the incident and who are not involved in the emergency response. There is no off-site impact to the public as a result of the incident.”

In an update, Y-12 officials said, “Personnel have determined the event is contained to the production building. Evacuations have been conducted in the area. There are no reports of injury or contamination as a result of the event.”

The complex also said all employees were safe and accounted for.

NNSA spokesman Steven Wyatt later said at a news conference that air monitors in the immediate vicinity found no evidence of radioactivity, according to WATE.

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As of 3 p.m., officials said the Department of Energy facility had resumed normal operations.

The Y-12 facility plays an important role in maintaining the country’s nuclear weapons and energy programs.

“Y‑12 helps ensure a safe and effective U.S. nuclear weapons deterrent. We also retrieve and store nuclear materials, fuel the nation’s naval reactors, and perform complementary work for other government and private-sector entities,” the facility said on its website.

The facility is responsible for the production, surveillance, dismantlement and storage of nuclear components

It also assists the U.S. military with the materials needed for nuclear-powered submarines and aircraft carriers.

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Johnathan Jones has worked as a reporter, an editor, and producer in radio, television and digital media.
Johnathan "Kipp" Jones has worked as an editor and producer in radio and television. He is a proud husband and father.