Y-12’s Day of Volunteering

Saturday (April 25) is a big day on the calendar at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant. Hundreds of Y-12 employees, as well as family members and friends, participate in the annual Day of Volunteeering — performing good deeds (painting, landscaping, repairing, cleaning) at needy sites around the area. Some volunteers got a jump start on the annual event with some work Friday.

This the 12th year of the program.


SNS getting back on track

snsinstrumentationThe Spallation Neutron Source today reached beam power just above 1 megawatt, gradually getting back to the desired power levels for neutron production and research applications. The SNS has endured a period of upset and uncertainty.

“It is good to be back at that level,” Kevin Jones, a division director at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, said via email.

Jones said the lab plans to let the machine “condition” over the weekend, stabilizing at the new power ramp up, and then make a few tweaks next week to adjust and prepare for further power increases. Continue reading

Oak Ridge tour season expanded to 9 months

graphitereactor.jpgThe Graphite Reactor, the world’s first continuously operated nuclear reactor, is one of the stops on the Department of Energy’s bus tour in Oak Ridge.

The U.S. Department of Energy has expanded its tour season from three to nine months, with bus tours to continue this year through November. In the future, the tour season will be March through November, a DOE spokeswoman said.

Bus tours currently are available three days a week (Monday, Wednesday and Friday) and will continue on that schedule through May. For June-August, the bus tours will be available daily, Monday through Friday, with plans to continue three days a week in September and October, and twice a week for November. Continue reading

UPF to be built outside PIDAS

UPF Site RenderingThe National Nuclear Security Administration has confirmed that construction of the Uranium Processing Facility, a cluster of three buildings as conceived under the revised design strategy for the production complex, will take place outside the Protected Area of the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge.

I asked for clarification  because there were previous plans to shrink the size of the Protected Area and relocate the Perimeter Intrusion Detection and Assessment System fencing as part the multibillion-dollar Uranium Processing Facility. That project, known as WEPAR (West End Protected Area Reduction), was cancelled. Continue reading

Ex-OST official at Oak Ridge indicted for travel fraud

A former federal official who worked at the nuclear weapons transportation hub in Oak Ridge has been indicted on federal charges for allegedly bilking the government for false travel expenses and other fraudulent claims.

ostAccording to the indictment, which was unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, Henry M. Love II knowingly submitted false travel vouchers and other documents in a scheme to collect compensation for expenses he did not incur and, in some instances, for work he did not perform and locations he did not visit.

In addition to the false travel claims, Love is accused of filing a claim for a “work-related injury” on Department of Energy property for a date — June 8, 2012 — in which he was not present at work. Continue reading

Erhart’s farewell at NNSA Production Office

erhartsafetySteve Erhart, the National Nuclear Security Administration’s first manager of a special Production Office set up in 2012 to oversee the combined Y-12 and Pantex management contract, left that post earlier this month to set up another new office (Office of Policy) for NNSA.

Before leaving, Erhart wrote a final “Steve Stuff,” his periodic communications channel to employees. The message was poignant and inspirational, explanatory and a little self-effacing at times, and he offered a big thank you to those who worked for him. He even made reference to a James Taylor song.

Here’s Erhart’s message: Continue reading

UT gets nuke awards from DOE

The University of Tennessee was among the universities that recently received advanced nuclear energy awards from the U.S. Department of Energy. UT received 11 of the undergraduate scholarships (valued at $7,500 each to cover education costs for nuclear engineering degrees) and 3 of the graduate fellowships (providing $50K per year for graduate studies and research).

For more information on DOE’s nuclear university programs, click here.

Oak Ridge Post Office (1948)


Oak Ridge Post Office in 1948. Movie posters for local theaters feature “Out of the Past” with Robert Mitchum, Jane Greer and Kirk Douglas and “Life with Father” starring Irene Dunn and William Powell and a young Elizabeth Taylor. Double-click to enlarge photograph. (Department of Energy archives/Ed Westcott photo)

ORNL supports Iran nuclear negotiations

ornlsignORNL photo

The New York Times has a front-page article today on the involvement of national labs, including Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in providing technical support for the Iran nuclear talks, and it makes reference to a classified centrifuge facility in Oak Ridge that serves as a “secret replica” of Iran’s uranium-enrichment operations.

In a telephone interview, ORNL Director Thom Mason would not discuss the report of a secret facility — “I have nothing to say about that” — but he shed some light on the Oak Ridge role in providing technical advice to U.S. negotiators in Switzerland. That included an urgent call that came to an ORNL contact shortly after noon on Friday, March 6. Continue reading

A change in strategy: Long-time AVID contractor losing Y-12 role

photo (5)Apex Office Systems, a woman-owned small business in Oak Ridge, is losing its long-time AVID (Accelerated Vendor Inventory Delivery) contract at the Y-12 National Security Complex.

The current contract is due to expire in June, and it will not be renewed, Y-12 contractor Consolidated Nuclear Security confirmed. Apex has held the contract — providing next-day delivery of needed office supplies to Y-12 — since 1995.

There have been reports that CNS, a Bechtel-led team that last year took over the combined management of the Y-12 and Pantex nuclear weapons plants, plans to do away with all of the AVID contracts locally held at Y-12. However,  contractor spokeswoman Ellen Boatner said the contracts are being evaluated on a “case-by-case” basis. Continue reading

SNS restart slowed

SNS Building MarkerOperations at the Spallation Neutron Source have resumed, but the restart has gone a little slower than anticipated because of an equipment failure over the weekend.

“The good news is that we have beam on target for our users as of this morning,” Kevin Jones, director of ORNL’s Research Accelerator Division, said via email. “However, we aren’t at high power yet because we had to address the consequences of an equipment failure over the weekend that took a little longer to work through than usual.” Continue reading