NNSA postpones tritium contract decision until 2016

tritiumThe National Nuclear Security Administration has postponed its decision on whether to meld the tritium operations at Savannah River into the combined Y-12/Pantex management contract held by Consolidated Nuclear Security.

The decision had been expected sometime this spring or summer, roughly a year after the CNS startup and in time for a possible transition into the start of FY 2016, but now it’s not expected until sometime next year.  NNSA spokeswoman Shelley Laver was not specific, saying there is “no specific date to revisit the decision.” Continue reading

Four from ORNL get early-career grants

earlycareerGrant winners from left are Christian Engelmann, Cory Hauck, Katharine Page and Chad Parish. (ORNL photos)

Four researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory will receive at least $500K a year a year for the next five years as part of a Department of Energy program to boost the work of scientists and engineers early in their careers. All told, 44 scientists across the U.S. received the early-career grants.

Here are the four from ORNL: Continue reading

A couple of IG reports

igThe Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General released a couple of reports this week. An audit report on DOE management of spare parts at selected sites including a review of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The IG said spare parts are of critical importance at high-hazard nuclear facilities because they ensure continuity of operations.

“Although Oak Ridge National Laboratory appropriately managed spare parts in its nuclear facilities, it did not track all spare parts inventories for non-nuclear applications,” the report stated. Continue reading

Negotiations continue at Pantex

pantex2There’s apparently no major news to report at this point, but Clarence Rashada, president of the Metal Trades Council at the Pantex warhead assembly/disassembly plant, said talks with the government’s contractor are continuing.

“We’re just continuing to negotiate at the table,” Rashada said this morning. The existing labor contract expired at Pantex in February and talks with Consolidated Nuclear Security have continued since then.

The Metal Trades Council represents about 1,200 hourly workers at Pantex. Continue reading

Somebody call Ripley’s: Uranium bomb part gains weight during machining operation at Y-12

uranium.jpgThe folks at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant are mighty particular when measuring quantities of bomb-grade uranium, tracking the material virtually down to the atom to make sure that even the smallest amounts aren’t lost or diverted.

Therefore, it must have been a big surprise last month when a Y-12 engineer determined that a uranium bomb part had gained weight during a machining operation. Continue reading

2014 foreigner visits to ORNL by country

ornlaerial2014Aerial view of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, looking west. (ORNL photo)

Earlier this year, I reported that China had once again topped the list of foreigner visits to Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2014, and I provided the total visit number for the other countries in the Top 10.

Below is a complete list of the 2014 visits by country, from Albania to Zambia, with a total of 110 countries represented (although some of the countries with approved visits don’t have numbers that show up on this list of actual visits). Continue reading

Lecture on proton therapy

A June 11 community lecture in Oak Ridge will feature Dr. Tamara Vern-Goss, radiation oncologist, and Marc Blakely, medical physicist, of the Provision Center for Proton Therapy. Their lecture sponsored by Friends of Oak Ridge National Laboratory will be titled, “Theory and Application of Proton Therapy for Cancer Treatment.” The event is free and open to the public, with a reception at 5:30 p.m. and lecture at 6:30. It will be held at the American Museum of Science & Energy, 300 S. Tulane Ave.

K-31 demolition nearing completion

17716934780_a7fda60ae9_kAs shown in this May 20 photograph, the demolition of K-31 — a former uranium-enrichment facililty — is entering its final stages. URS-CH2M Oak Ridge, the Department of Energy’s cleanup manager, is planning an event for late June to celebrate the conclusion of the project. After K-31 is a done deal, only K-27 will remain of the major production facilities at the Oak Ridge site. DOE photo/Lynn Freeny.