10 more days for bidders on rad-waste contract

tru3The Department of Energy has given would-be bidders another 10 days to prepare their proposals on the contract to manage the Transuranic Waste Processing Center in Oak Ridge. According to the amendment posted on DOE’s Environmental Management website, the due date has been changed from Dec. 1 to Dec. 11. The value of the contract could be up to $300 million. Continue reading

Three from ORNL elected AAAS Fellows


ORNL’s new honorees, from left, Michelle Buchanan, Liyuan Liang, and Melanie Mayes. (ORNL photos)

Michelle Buchanan, Liyuan Liang and Melanie Mayes of Oak Ridge National Laboratory have been elected fellows of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and will be recognized at the association’s annual meeting in February. Continue reading

Thom Mason on Red Team review: ‘It’s not just a report that goes and sits on the shelf’


A few days ago, I talked with Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thom Mason and asked him about the impact of the so-called Red Team that he headed this past spring. The team of experts evaluated the enriched uranium operations at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant and came up with an alternative strategy to the Uranium Processing Facility. The National Nuclear Security Administration and its Y-12 contractor reportedly took the recommendations to heart and are implementing many of them in the revised UPF project that’s been revealed publicly in skips and starts. Continue reading

Wartime challenge: Making the calutrons work

lawrenceNobel Laureate Ernest Lawrence slumps in his chair from fatigue in front of a cyclotron control panel while working on calutron-related experiments at Berkeley, Calif., in 1943. (Department of Energy archives/OSTI)

The Department of Energy’s interactive history of the Manhattan Project — shepherded by the Oak Ridge-based Office of Scientific and Technical Information — has lots of good reading and storylines, including the build-up of the electromagnetic processes used at Y-12 to produce the enriched uranium for the first atomic bomb. The Y-12 calutrons, of course, were the brainchild of E.O. Lawrence.

Here’s an excerpt: Continue reading

Running experiments at SNS, HFIR

hfirbayOak Ridge National Laboratory’s two neutron sources — the Spallation Neutron Source and the High Flux Isotope Reactor — were restarted last week. The HFIR returned from its scheduled maintenance and refueling out, while the SNS was brought back online after a series of problems.

Ron Crone, ORNL’s associate lab director for neutron sciences, said Monday that both were doing fine and running experiments. Continue reading

Protest areas near Y-12 blocked

ypicThe city of Oak Ridge has installed traffic cones and drums along the shoulder of Scarboro Road directly across from the Y 12 nuclear weapons plant, an apparent effort to deter protests.

Based on the current configuration, there is virtually no place for protesters to park or stand in the vicinity of the plant — other than Scarboro Road itself.  Continue reading

Slips, trips and broken bones at Y-12

For the third time in about three months an accident at Y-12 has resulted in broken bones. In this case, which occurred Nov. 18, the employee was walking through a parking lot at about 6:30 a.m., slipped on a patch of black ice, and broke his leg, according to plant spokeswoman Ellen Boatner. Following two accidents in August involving broken bones, the Y-12 contractor (Consolidated Nuclear Security) held a “safety pause” to put more emphasis on possible causes. Early in the year, an employee suffered multiple leg fractures — and required surgery — after falling inside Building 9103.

UPF stats (revised)

upfbldgpicAs noted previously, the Uranium Processing Facility has undergone revisions to address and incorporate the recommendations of the Red Team review earlier this year.

The size of the project has been scaled down somewhat to reportedly contain the total cost at $6.5 billion or less and accelerate plans to get out of the age-weakened 9212 complex.

But it’s still a very big undertaking. Continue reading