Winter’s face of dread

photoI used to call this little panic-stricken statue, “The Third Saturday in October,” a fearful football reference, but earlier this week — after waking to yet another layer of fresh snow — I snapped his photo and renamed him “February 2015″ to remind myself there are other things to worry about besides football. Double-click to enlarge.

Larry Kelly, DOE’s Oak Ridge manager, dies

larrykellyLarry Kelly, manager of the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge office since July 2012, died Thursday following a two-year battle with cancer. He was 58 years old.

Kelly had more than 30 years of federal service and had worked at DOE’s Oak Ridge operations since 1990.

“Words cannot describe the sadness we feel with the passing of our manager, Larry Kelly. The loss of our leader is heavy on our heart, but it is the loss of a friend that leaves an emptiness that will be difficult to endure,” Deputy Manager Kevin Hall in a statement.

“Larry was a man who battled bravely these past many months, and through it all he remained the Larry we have known and deeply loved for so many years. His strength becomes ours as we grieve his passing and continue with our work as he would want us to. We ask all to please keep Larry’s wife, Rubenia, and  his daughter, Kristyn, in their thoughts and prayers. They were the joys of his life. Rest well our friend.” Continue reading

New electrical switchyard at Y-12

Y12 gate_MP (2)Plans are underway for a new electrical substation at Y-12, with construction expected to begin in Fiscal Year 2016.

The project is associated with the multibillion-dollar Uranium Processing Facility, but National Nuclear Security Administration spokesman Steven Wyatt confirmed that the switchyard will serve the entire plant.

It will be a 161kV substation designed to deliver 75 megawatts of electrical power, the NNSA spokesman said.

Continue reading

Another snowy day at ORNL

Snow_sidewalks_highresWith the fourth winter storm in two weeks, the maintenance staffs at the government’s Oak Ridge operations have been stretched and strained to keep things as clear as possible. This photo at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, taken in front of Building 4500-N looking east, was taken at about 9 this morning. (ORNL photo/Bill Cabage)

Battelle ‘intrigued’ by NNSA possibilities


Battelle executive Ron Townsend talks on the sidelines of last week’s Nuclear Deterrence Summit.

Ron Townsend, Battelle’s executive vice president for global laboratory operations, was in Washington, D.C., last week for the 7th annual Nuclear Deterrence Summit, and it was very much a business trip. Townsend was there to better understand the challenges facing the National Nuclear Security Administration and evaluate what roles Battelle might play in the nuclear weapons complex and what it might be able to contribute.

“We’re intrigued,” Townsend said in an interview. “We have a very strong science and energy portfolio. We manage three Science labs (Oak Ridge, Pacific Northwest and Brookhaven) and both Energy labs — Idaho and NREL (National Renewable Energy Lab). We don’t have a significant presence in the weapons area, the national nuclear security arena. But we’re intrigued by that.” Continue reading

CNS exec: contractor has ‘limited flexibility’ in moving funds between Y-12 and Pantex

photo-001Dave Beck at last week’s Nuclear Deterrence Summit in Washington, D.C.

Consolidated Nuclear Security, the Bechtel-led partnership that manages the Y-12 and Pantex nuclear weapons plants under a combined contract, has “limited flexibility” in moving federal funds between the two sites, according to one of the contractor’s top executives.

“There’s not much flexibility at this point,” Dave Beck, a CNS vice president and program integration manager, said last week during an interview at the Nuclear Deterrence Summit in Washington, D.C. “We’re trying to get a mission done, and there’s limited flexibility. And that’s mainly determined by the control points from Congress.” Continue reading

NNSA chief to visit Y-12 March 13

klotz1Frank G. Klotz, the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, apparently isn’t a superstitious guy. He’s scheduled to visit the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant on March 13 (Friday the 13th) as part of ceremonies recognizing an early milestone on the multibillion-dollar Uranium Processing Facility.

Klotz, a retired Air Force lieutenant general who formerly served as commander of the Global Strike Command, will reportedly be joined by other leaders of the NNSA as well as U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., and other dignitaries. Continue reading

‘Curfew’ at Y-12 limits movement; ORNL advises workers to delay arrival; UCOR on delayed schedule

With a fresh snowfall this morning, there were a mix of plans in place at the government’s Oak Ridge operations.

Ellen Boatner, a spokeswoman at Y-12, said the plant instituted a “curfew,” which advises workers to stay in their buildings and not move around outside to help avoid slips and falls. Many of the Y-12 employees came to work by 6 a.m., so much of the work population was already in place before the snow began accumulating, she said. Continue reading

ORNL, NSA and the Fourth Amendment Protection Act

ORNLmrfOak Ridge National Laboratory’s Multipurpose Research Facility. (KNS photo/Michael Patrick)

Legislation recently introduced in the Tennessee General Assembly (and multiple other state legislatures) is aimed at stemming civilian surveillance by the National Security Agency, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, by its reported relationship with NSA on some projects, is apparently a target of the legislation as well. Identical versions of the Tennessee Fourth Amendment Protection Act were introduced in the State House and Senate by Reps. Micah van Huss and Matthew Hill and Sen. Mae Beavers.

Here’s an excerpt: “This state and its political subdivisions shall not assist, participate with, or provide material support or resources to enable or facilitate a federal agency in the collection or use of a person’s electronic data or metadata, without: (1) The person’s informed consent; (2) A search warrant issued by a duly authorized court upon probable cause that particularly describes the person, place, or thing to be searched or seized; or (3) Acting in accordance with a legally recognized exception to the warrant requirements.” Continue reading

Y-12 completes risk-reduction project ahead of schedule, under budget

stack110 599892As part of the Nuclear Facilities Risk Reduction Project at Y-12, two of the emission stacks at the 9212 uranium-processing complex were combined. An old filtration system also was replaced. Numerous other improvements were to reduce risks to workers at the Oak Ridge site. (NNSA photo)

The Y-12 nuclear weapons plant has completed a six-year project that’s supposed to reduce the risks at two of the plant’s key production operations.

According to an announcement by the National Nuclear Security Administration, the $75.7 million project was completed nearly 11 months ahead of its schedule and about $5.6 million under budget. The Nuclear Facilities Risk Reduction Project was originally scheduled for completion in 2016, the federal agency said.

The work focused on Building 9212 and Beta-2E, where the work includes the assembly and disassembly of nuclear warhead parts. Continue reading

B&W challenging incumbent for KC contract

kansascityBabcock & Wilcox, which suffered a tough, tough blow when it finished second in the competition for the $22 billion combined management contract for Y-12/Pantex, is back on the horse and bidding for the management and operating contract for the NNSA’s National Security Campus (formerly known as the Kansas City Plant).

The proposals for the Kansas City contract were due a couple of weeks ago, so the timing of B&W’s announcement on Friday was interesting. There had been a lot of talk and speculation during last week’s Nuclear Deterrence Summit in Washington, D.C., that the incumbent — Honeywell Federal Manufacturing & Technologies — might not be facing any competition. Continue reading