Water in the wrong place at Y-12

stack110 599892Water and U-235 don’t mix really well without uncomfortably critical results, and that’s why casting operations with bomb-grade uranium were shut down for a brief period last month at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant.

According to a report by staff of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Board, the casting operations in Y-12’s 9212 complex were “paused” last month because of a perceived “deficiency” in nuclear criticality safety.

The issue was reportedly in the area around Stack 110, which is the primary ventilation system that supports uranium casting operations in Building 9212. Continue reading

Y-12’s ‘work for others’ steady at about $50M

y12overviewAerial view of the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. (NNSA photograph)

The Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge receives most of its funding from the Department of Energy, via the semi-independent arm known as the National Nuclear Security Administration.

But the Oak Ridge plant also receives money — substantial amounts of money — from other sources. Continue reading

DOE’s David Adler to speak on cleanup program

adlerDavid Adler of the Department of Energy shown here at a demolition event last year at the East Tennessee Technology Park. (KNS/Munger photo)

David Adler of the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management in Oak Ridge will be the guest speaker at the Feb. 9 lunch meeting of Friends of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. He’ll speak about the agency’s cleanup program.

Adler has been with the DOE Oak Ridge team for about 25 years. Continue reading

NNSA nails former Y-12 contractor for mishandling of classified documents; three violations issued, but proposed $240K penalty waived

bwy12Former Y-12 contractor Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services Y-12 LLC was cited for violations involving the mishandling and improper disposal of classified documents.

The National Nuclear Security Administration this week cited B&W Y-12 —  the former contractor at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant — for repeated mishandling and improper disposal of classified documents. The preliminary notice of violations, based on the government’s investigation of events uncovered in 2014, was published on the Department of Energy’s Office of Enterprise Assessments website.

The letter cited three violations — one Severity Level I and two Severity Level II — and proposed a fine of $240,000, but the NNSA waived the fine because of B&W’s response to the problems and because the contractor had already been penalized with loss of fee in its annual performance evaluation. Security Level I is defined as violations of classified information security requirements with “actual or high potential for adverse impact on the national security.” Level II violations “represent lack of attention or carelessness” in protection of classified information.

In June 2014, a contractor worker at Y-12 reportedly identified a “work-related paper” that contained classified markings for secret/restricted data in an unclassified waste bag that had already been processed out of the plant’s high-security “material access area.” The waste bag contained about 19 additional papers that were either marked as classified or appeared to contain classified information.

That led to an examination of other waste containers, and more problems — in which unclassified containers potentially included classified information — were found. Continue reading

Planning the Manhattan Project Park’s future

IMG_5311The Manhattan Project National Historical Park was officially created on Nov. 10, 2015, when Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz and Secretary of Interior Sally Jewel put their signatures on the memorandum of agreement. The MOA directed how the two agencies would work together to develop the three-site national park.

Even though the park already exists, it’s still a long way from being what it will become. Those plans are just getting started, and that was the topic of a public meeting Monday evening and a flurry of activities by park leaders — including Tracy Atkins, who was named the park’s interim superintendent earlier this week.

IMG_5319“We’re working on our Foundation Document,” Atkins said Monday evening at a public meeting at Oak Ridge High School’s Food Court. That document will lay the foundation for the multiple layers of planning — identifying the park’s purpose, its significance and what should be included in the multi-site park.

The National Park Service urged those who turned out for the meeting to fill out comment cards and share their thoughts and suggestions about what’s important, which may influence the way the Manhattan Project is interpreted at the sites.

“What are the important stories from Oak Ridge that will feed into our interpretive theme?” Atkins asked. “What are those things that are important to protect? And then what experiences would people like to have in the park long-term?” Continue reading

Williams named UCOR’s chief operating officer

Williams Fran Color 2014Fran Williams has been named chief operating officer for URS-CH2M Oak Ridge (UCOR), the U.S. Department of Energy’s cleanup manager in Oak Ridge.

Williams is returning to the Oak Ridge contractor after retiring last year from her post as manager of environment, safety, health and quality assurance. She will succeed Matt Marston, who left UCOR last month to accept a senior management position with AECOM — one of the contractor’s parent companies.

According to UCOR, Williams played an important role in the contractor achieving Star status in the Department of Energy’s Voluntary Protection Program (VPP). Continue reading

Atkins named park’s interim superintendent

IMG_5304-001Tracy Atkins, who has served as the National Park Service’s project manager for the Manhattan Project National Historic Park, was named this week to serve as the newly created park’s interim superintendent. She will be based at the Park Service’s complex in Denver, Colo. Atkins said she expects that a permanent superintendent will be named this summer. (KNS photo/Munger)

Delivering input on the Manhattan Project Park

IMG_5311A pretty big crowd showed up Monday evening to provide their input on planning for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. The National Park Service and the U.S. Department of Energy, partners in developing the park, sponsored the meeting at Oak Ridge High School’s Food Court. Participants were asked to provide written comments about their priorities for the park, what they’d like to see, etc.  The park was officially created in November, and Tracy Atkins, the acting superintendent of the park, was on hand and spoke to the group. Members of the team are in Oak Ridge for a couple of days this week and then they’ll travel west to hold similar meetings at the park’s other two sites — Los Alamos, N.M, and Hanford, Wash. (KNS photo/Munger)

Message from new CNS chief: Do what’s right for the country; do what’s right for employees

Morgan SmithMorgan Smith, who took the reins today as president and chief executive officer of Consolidated Nuclear Security, the government’s managing contractor at the Y-12 and Pantex nuclear weapons plants, delivered a message to thousands of contractor employees at the sites in Tennessee and Texas. He said he would provide a plan for the first 90 days within the next week and shortly thereafter announce organization changes.

Smith said his decision-making is based on two key tenets: “Do what is right for the country and do what is right for employees.” He added: “In my experience, if we do these two things well, we’ll be successful in our work and find fulfillment in our jobs.”

Here is text of the message sent to CNS employees: Continue reading

ORNL to support nuclear industry projects

ornlentrance2Oak Ridge National Laboratory will support two projects to develop and demonstrate technologies for advanced nuclear reactor designs, according to info released by the lab.

The Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Energy recently announced that it would commit about $6 million initially and later up to $80 for the nuclear industry projects headed by Southern Co. and X-energy. Continue reading