National Nuclear Security Administration officials Teresa Robbins and Anne Harrington, from left, and Morgan Smith, chief operating officer of Consolidated Nuclear Security, cut a ribbon at the grand opening of the new Alarm Response Training Academy at Y-12 on Thursday. (Photo by Adam Lau/News Sentinel)
At this week’s grand opening of a new training facility at Y-12, I had a chance to talk briefly with Morgan Smith, the chief operating officer for Consolidated Nuclear Security, the government’s managing contractor for Y-12 and Pantex.
The company won the combined Y-12/Pantex management contract largely based on its promise to cut costs in a big way and save the government more than $3 billion over the next decade.
So I asked Smith how those cost-efficiency plans were going in the first few months of the contractor’s tenure. He didn’t offer a lot of detail, but he responded. Continue reading
Employees who worked 6 months or more between June 19, 1942 and August 6, 1945 received this special A Award from the War Department. (Department of Energy archives/Ed Westcott photo)
At the same time the National Nuclear Security Administration was hosting Thursday’s media shindig at Y-12 to celebrate a new counter-terrorism training facility, another event was being held at Pantex to commemorate a milestone — 50 percent finished — on the life-extension project for the W76 (Trident) warheads.
Y-12, of course, also has a significant role in the W76 refurbishments, and there was a celebration at the Oak Ridge site as well. The primary goals of the program are to extend the life of the warheads from 20 to 60 years and to address any aging issues. Continue reading
Participants in a training class at Y-12’s Alarm Response Training Academy study security cameras that capture some of the action during an exercise Thursday. The scenario involved the attempted theft of radioactive source material from an animal research facility.
The threat of nuclear terrorism is real, perhaps inevitable, but — fortunately — Thursday’s security exercise at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant was just a drill.
The lessons learned, however, may someday help training participants avert the theft of radioactive source material and put the kibosh on a “dirty bomb” before it can be used to disperse fear and radioactivity across a populated landscape. Continue reading
The Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General today released an audit report on corrective action systems at the Pantex warhead assembly/disassembly plant in Texas — which is managed (in conjunction with its sister plant, Y-12) by Consolidated Nuclear Security. Continue reading
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Melissa Kirby, left, and Jeff Theodore, who prosecuted the Y-12 break-in case, leave the Federal Courthouse on May 8, 2013, after a jury found three Plowshares protesters — Michael Walli, Sister Megan Rice, and Greg Boertje-Obed — guilty on all charges. (KNS photo/Saul Young)
On Wednesday evening, the federal government responded to the appeal seeking to overturn the conviction of three Y-12 protesters on sabotage charges. The response was filed in the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Theodore, who led the prosecution of the case in U.S. District Court in Knoxville and argued in his response to appeal that the Y-12 intruders did try to injure or interfere with the nation’s defense and that their convictions were justified.
In their motion filed with the federal appeals court in early August, attorneys for the Plowshares protesters — Michael Walli, Sister Megan Rice and Greg Boertje-Obed — said it was only through “distorted and unmoored interpretation of the Sabotage Act” that the government was able to obtain convictions on the most serious felony charge related to the July 28, 2012 intrusion at Y-12.
Theodore refuted that statement and others in a point-by-point, 53-page response to the appeal. Continue reading
Oak Ridge National Laboratory this week said a scientific team has discovered “exceptional properties” in a garnet material that could bolster development of lithium battery designs with higher energy.
According to the lab, the team used scanning transmission electron microscopes to look at the material — known as LLZO — at the atomic level.
“The researchers found the material to be highly stable in a range of aqueous environments, making the compound a promising component in new battery configurations,” the labs news release said. Continue reading
The U.S. Department of Energy released some B-roll footage of the recent inspection of the F Reactor at the Hanford (Wash.) Site. The F Reactor is one of multiple old reactors at the site that have been “cocooned” for safety reasons. Last week’s inspection was reportedly the first time workers have been inside the F Reactor since 2008.
Entrance to Oak Ridge’s east side (Elza Gate) in 1960. (Department of Energy archives/T.R. Cook photo)
Mark Walker, a spokesman for EnergySolutions, said the accident investigation is “ongoing” at the company’s resin-processing plant in Erwin, Tenn. A 51-year-old worker suffered fatal injuries in a fall last week. The nuclear facility reportedly employs 44 workers, but operations have been shut down since the fatal accident. Continue reading
Last week, Oak Ridge National Laboratory announced lab scientists had obtained the “first direct observations of atomic diffusion inside a bulk material.” The research was reported in the journal Physical Review Letters. Continue reading
The Department of Energy’s Environmental Management program this morning took over the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant from USEC (now a subsidiary of Centrus Energy Corp.) and set the stage for deactivation of the former uranium-enrichment facility. Continue reading