Oak Ridge National Laboratory (X-10)

Also Known As: Clinton Laboratories, X-10, Holifield National Laboratory
State: Tennessee
Location: Oak Ridge
Time Period: 1943-present
Facility Type: Department of Energy

Facility Description

During the Manhattan project, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) site was used by the University of Chicago Metallurgical Laboratory to construct the first pile semiworks – a test plant that would move the plutonium product process from the research stage to large scale production. DuPont began construction of the test pile, the X-10 reactor in March 1943 and was ready for operations by January 1944. A research facility designated as the Clinton Laboratories was built during the war to support X-10 reactor activities and included chemistry, health and engineering divisions.

After the war, the laboratory was transformed from a war production facility to a nuclear research center and changed its name to Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 1948. The Laboratory’s research role in the development of nuclear weapons decreased over time, but the scope of its work expanded to include production of isotopes, fundamental hazardous and radioactive materials research, environmental research, and radioactive waste disposal.

Throughout the course of its operations, the potential for beryllium exposure existed at this site, due to beryllium use, residual contamination, and decontamination activities.

CONTRACTORS: University of Chicago (1943-1945); Monsanto Chemical (1945-1947); Union Carbide and Carbon Corp. (1948-1984); Martin Marietta Energy Systems (1984-1994); Lockheed Martin Energy Research Corp. (1994-1998); UT Battelle (2000-present)


Oak Ridge National Laboratory (X-10) is listed as a Department of Energy (DOE) site under the EEOICPA.


All employees of the Department of Energy, its predecessor agencies, and their contractors and subcontractors who worked in any area at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (X-10) in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, from June 17, 1943, through July 31, 1955, for a number of work days aggregating at least 250 work days, occurring either solely under this employment, or in combination with work days within the parameters established for one or more other classes of employees in the Special Exposure Cohort

(Note: This class was established by Petition 189)


As of 08/30/2015, the total compensation paid under Parts B and E of the EEOICPA, including medical compensation, for workers suffering from the effects of having worked at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (X-10) is $662,660,201.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (X-10) Workers

If you or your parent worked at this or any other DOE or AWE facility and became ill, you may be entitled to compensation of up to $400K plus medical benefits from the US Department of Labor. Call EEOICPA Counsel Hugh Stephens at 1-855-EEOICPA (336-4272) or fill out the form to the right, whether or not you have already filed a claim and even if your claim has been accepted or denied.

We can help with all OWCP (Federal Workers Compensation) claims, impairments, wage loss and health care. 2495 Main Street, Suite 442 Buffalo, NY.


Since its operations began in 1943, the mission of ORNL has been to conduct research and development (R&D) and production missions in support of DOE and its predecessor agencies. (ORNL has also been known as X-10, Clinton Laboratories, and, briefly, Holifield National Laboratory.) Much of the earliest site work was devoted to the development and operation of the original plutonium production reactor and associated chemical separation facility to test the larger production reactors that were being built on the Hanford Site. The Graphite Reactor produced gram quantities of plutonium and later fission products [e.g., radioactive lanthanum (RaLa)]; other types of radioactive materials were separated in other site facilities. Waste control technologies during early site operations were in their infancy, and much of the current knowledge of transport of radionuclides in the environment was obtained during this time. The ability to detect, identify, and quantify radiation types and exposures was progressing along with new technologies being discovered in radioisotope production. Much of the information gained during the early years at ORNL was used for the design of future U.S. Atomic Energy Commission (AEC)/DOE facilities and detection systems. Waste radioactive material was released from early site operations as gaseous, liquid, and solid effluents with little or no pretreatment. Methods were later developed to capture many of the contaminants at their source and to reduce overall plant emissions. In some cases, this increased direct exposures to individuals in the immediate area and created locations in which incidents and spills occurred.

Major historic operations and processes at ORNL include:
• The operation of the Graphite Reactor for producing plutonium and other radioisotopes
• The development and refinement of chemical processes to separate plutonium, uranium, and thorium from irradiated fuel
• Chemical separation of RaLa from irradiated fuel slugs for use in implosion dynamics studies at Los Alamos National Laboratory
• Operation of facilities for the separation, packaging, and distribution of radioisotopes for government and commercial use

In addition, ORNL developed new reactor technologies. The Laboratory tested different reactor designs (pool, pressurized-water, boiling-water, liquid-metal, gas-cooled) that were either scrapped or developed further elsewhere. Reactors operated at ORNL include the Low-Intensity Test Reactor (LITR), Critical Experiments Facility [CEF at the Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12)], Bulk Shielding Reactor (BSR)/Pool Critical Assembly (PCA), Oak Ridge Research Reactor (ORR), Tower Shielding Reactor (TSR), Health Physics Research Reactor (HPRR), Homogeneous Reactor Experiment (HRE), Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion (ANP) Program, the High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR), and the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE).
In 1947, several ORNL divisions moved to Y-12. These divisions conducted research in biological sciences, the production of stable isotopes in the calutron units, and engineering technology.


A brief history of ORNL can be seen below:

A different take on the activities at ORNL can be seen in this video:

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If you or your parent worked any of the DOE or AWE facilities listed on this website and became ill, you may be entitled to compensation of up to $400K plus medical benefits from the US Department of Labor.

Call EEOICPA Counsel Hugh Stephens at 1-800-548-4494, email hstephens@stephensstephens.com, or fill out the form below whether or not you have already filed a claim and even if your claim has been accepted or denied.

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