Y-12/Pantex contractor hires more than 650

Consolidated Nuclear Security, the government’s managing contractor at the Y-12 and Pantex nuclear weapons plant confirmed that it has hired more than 650 employees since the start of Fiscal Year 2016.Basic RGB

That’s more than halfway to the hiring target of 1,150 jobs for the two National Nuclear Security Administration sites. The breakdown of hirings by plant was not available. Continue reading

Talking science like it’s 1994

27559145850_2834636c68_kIt was April 29, 1994, and Energy Secretary Hazel O’Leary was taking a tour of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. She’s shown here listening to a presentation at ORNL’s High Temperature Materials Laboratory. O’Leary, who’s holding some research product in her hands, seems to be the only one who’s paying attention — and that may be marginal. From left, KNS reporter Frank Munger, ORNL Director Al Trivelpiece, O’Leary, and U.S. Rep. Marilyn Lloyd. (DOE photo/Lynn Freeny)

Liang accepts leadership role at Pacific Northwest Lab

liang2Liyuan Liang, a celebrated chemist and emerging science administrator at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has been named director of the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory in Washington state. The lab is a research user facility at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Liang has performed multiple roles at ORNL, including a tenure as director of the lab’s Office of Institutional Planning. She also headed a scientific team that tackled many of the perplexing issues about mercury in the environment — including how mercury is transformed into methylmercury, its most toxic form.

Allison Campbell, an associate director at Pacific Northwest, said in a statement: Continue reading

Before they tore old K-25 down

27225999143_f853665d3d_kHere I am getting prepped with protective gear before going inside the K-25 plant, which was being readied for demolition. Before the May 1, 2004 tour, there was a bit of a confrontation. Not only were we not allowed to bring any electronics into the classified facility, but at the last minute a classification officer also wanted to review my handwritten notes following the tour. I refused and was ready to walk away. Ultimately, the contractor relented. But, to be honest, while wearing gear and breathing protection, it was kind of hard to take notes anyway. (Department of Energy photo/Lynn Freeny)

Still no decision on bringing tritium to CNS contract

Basic RGBThe National Nuclear Security Administration today confirmed it has not yet made a decision on whether to exercise an option to incorporate the tritium activities at the Savannah River Site into the Y-12/Pantex management contract held by Consolidated Nuclear Security. The CNS contract is coming up on its two-year anniversary. The Bechtel-led team assumed responsibility for managing the two plants on July 1, 2014. Continue reading

Recalling the joys of reporting

munger1984If there was one place, just one, to sit and reflect on the past 35 years, I guess I’d have to choose a seat in Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Central Auditorium. Somewhere on the right side, maybe about the fifth row. That was generally close enough to get a look at the stage, but far enough back to be enveloped by the crowd and feel the excitement as the room began to fill. It was positioned so I could dash to the stage for an interview afterward or make a quick exit to the hallway if time was short and a deadline was near.

ORNL’s old-style auditorium, kind of musty and sloped from front to back, was where I first embraced the joy of my job. Continue reading

Smith named North Wind communications chief

annesmithAnne Smith, who previously held public affairs roles with Safety and Ecology Corp., Perma-Fix Environmental and URS/CH2M Oak Ridge, has been named the communications chief at North Wind Group.

North Wind is a small business on the rise, recently taking over management of the Department of Energy’s Transuranic Waste Processing Center in Oak Ridge. The company is based in Idaho Falls. Smith will be located in the company’s Knoxville office. Continue reading

Y-12’s leak city

9212Overview of the aged Building 9212 at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant. (Y-12 photo)

In a newly released activity report by staff of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Board, it was noted that a Y-12 engineer received contamination on his forearm when a “drop of process solution” dripped from overhead in the C-1 Wing of Building 9212 — the plant’s main facility for processing highly enriched uranium.

The report noted that even though the non-destructive assay engineer was wearing the appropriate protective clothing, the acidic solution soaked through the nylon cloth and resulted in skin contamination. The first attempt to remove the radioactive residue was apparently not fully successful, but a second effort “reduced the (radiation) readings to less-than-detectable levels,” the safety board staff reported.

The drip of uranium solution reportedly came from the connection between a drain valve and a section of tubing. Continue reading

Lawler-Wood to develop new complex at Pantex

Aerial photoConceptual design of planned Administrative Support Complex at the Pantex nuclear weapons plant in Texas. Construction is expected to begin in August.

Lawler-Wood LLC of Knoxville will develop a new 342,000-square-foot administative complex at the Pantex nuclear weapons plant under a private-financing arrangement similar to what was used for two facilities — New Hope Center and Jack Case Center — at Y-12 in Oak Ridge.

Wayne Roquemore, president of Lawler-Wood, said the complex will be built on property that’s adjacent to Pantex and currently owned by Texas Tech University. The land will be purchased from the university, he said.

Once developed by Lawler-Wood, with financing via Panhandle Economic Development Corp., it will be leased by an ownership  group to Consolidated Nuclear Security — the government’s managing contractor at Pantex and Y-12. CNS said it had received approval from the National Nuclear Security Administration to negotiate the lease. The initial lease term will reportedly be for five years, with multiple options for the future. Continue reading

China’s new supercomputer takes world lead; Titan drops to No. 3 on TOP500

summitpicChina has retained the top spot on the TOP500 list of the world’s fastest supercomputers with a newly developed system built entirely with Chinese-made processors, according to Monday’s announcement at the biannual International Supercomputing Conference in Frankfurt, Germany.

The new system — dubbed Sunway TaihuLight — is reportedly capable of 93 million billion calculations per second or 93 petaflops. China’s Tianha-2, which previously was ranked No. 1, dropped to the second slot, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Titan supercomputer, a Cray XK7 system, is third on the newly released list.

ORNL is currently working with IBM on a next-generation supercomputer that will be called Summit (conceptual image, insert) and reportedly capable of 150 to 300 petaflops. It is scheduled to be delivered next year and achieve full operations in 2018. Continue reading