Senate confirms Creedon for NNSA’s No. 2 post

creedon2The U.S. Senate today confirmed Madelyn Creedon as the principal deputy administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration — the semi-independent part of the Department of Energy that oversees the nuclear weapons program.

Here’s what Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement:

“Madelyn Creedon’s confirmation comes at a critical point for the National Nuclear Security Administration. She is well-prepared for her new role at the Department as it follows a long career of public service in national security, including at the Department of Defense, with the Senate Armed Services Committee, and, previously, at the Department of Energy. NNSA Administrator Klotz and I thank the Senate for their attention to Madelyn’s nomination, and look forward to working with her.” Continue reading

Fluor wins $420M deactivation contract at Paducah


Aerial view of the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Kentucky. (DOE photo)

Fluor Federal Services Inc. was announced today as the winner of a task order for deactivation activities at the Paducah (Ky.) Gaseous Diffusion Plant with a potential value of $420 million over three years. The task order was awarded by the Department of Energy under the Nationwide Environmental Management ID/IQ Unrestricted Contract. Continue reading

ScienceCinema: watch & learn

ostiThe Department of Energy’s Office of Scientific and Technical Information in Oak Ridge works full-time to provide open access (where possible) to millions of reports of scientific research and discovery at DOE’s national laboratories and other facilities. Besides documents, there are also capabilities — showcased at ScienceCinema – that allow folks to search the thousands of videos and audio files produced by the labs, with audio indexing and speech recognition technology.

Got a topic in mind? Check out the search function at the recently revamped website. Continue reading

Community meeting on future of AMSE

The city of Oak Ridge and the American Museum of Science and Energy Foundation are co-sponsoring a community meeting on Thursday to discuss the operations of the museum and its future. The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the museum’s auditorium.

According to information provided by the city, registration and light refreshments will be available at 5:30 p.m. Continue reading

ORNL kids

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On Friday, Oak Ridge National Laboratory had its first “Take Your Child to Work Day” since 2002. It was sponsored by the lab’s Committee for Women and included tours of ORNL’s major facilities, such as the Spallation Neutron Source and the stable of world-leading supercomputers. The kids are shown here, above and below, on the Quad playing with a robot made by Hardin Valley Academy’s FIRST Robotics team. (ORNL photos/Rachel Brooks)

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From Livermore to Y-12

In an interview earlier this month with top officials from Consolidated Nuclear Security and the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Production Office, I asked about the potential transfer of employees between Y-12 and Pantex — both now managed by CNS. CNS President Jim Haynes said that might be a good way for people to broaden their careers and also a way to leverage the things that each site does best.

Anyway, I asked specifically if there was a chance of moving security personnel between the sites. There was some movement in security leadership in the follow-up to the July 2012 security breach at Y-12, and it was also noted that a group of security police officers at Lawrence Livermore who were on the verge of being released at the lab were brought to Y-12 to help fill a staffing gap in Oak Ridge. Continue reading

Tackling the mercury burden

During the early Cold War years, the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant secretly used about 20 million pounds of mercury to process lithium for hydrogen bombs. At least 700,000 pounds of the toxic metal, according to government estimates, was released into the environment.

Bit by bit, project by project, some of that lost mercury is being recovered, treated and disposed of properly. But it’s going to require a long-term effort. Continue reading


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UPF Federal Project Director John Eschenberg and UPF Project Director Brian Reilly shake hands after signing a partnering agreement, with the government and contractor officials promising to work together as a cohesive team. Front row, left to right: Bill Priest, Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC; Eschenberg, Uranium Processing Facility Project Office; Reilly, CNS; Dale Christenson, UPO. Back row, left to right: Joe Brown, CNS; Brant Morowski, CNS; Mike Pratt, CNS; Jim Sowers, CNS; Matt Crookshanks, CNS; John Clayton, UPO; Art Haugh, UPO; Laurie Folden, UPO; Steve Wellbaum, UPO.

The National Nuclear Security Administration’s Uranium Processing Facility Project Office and the Consolidated Nuclear Security, the government’s new managing contractor at Y-12 and Pantex, have signed a partnering agreement in which they promised to work together as one to get the big project done in the most cohesive and effective way. Continue reading

What’s the future of Clark Center Park?

picnicAfter receiving unofficial information that Clark Center Park — a long-time favorite recreation area on Department of Energy property at Melton Hill Lake — may be closed, I called John Shewairy, assistant manager for administration at DOE’s Oak Ridge Office, and asked him about the situation.

Shewairy did not confirm the report, but he did acknowledge that the federal agency is evaluating its finances during these tough budget times and “making sure everything we’re doing is related to the Department of Energy missions.”

He also acknowledged that Clark Center Park, which reportedly costs DOE about $300,000 a year to maintain, is being evaluated as part of that ongoing budget review. Continue reading

The tritium decision

Throughout the procurement process on the Y-12/Pantex management contract was the caveat that, at some point, the tritium work done at the Savannah River Site could eventually be folded into that multi-site management contract.

Now that Consolidated Nuclear Security is up and running and managing Y-12 and Pantex, as of July 1, I asked the National Nuclear Security Administration if there was a timetable for deciding whether or not to incorporate the Savannah River tritium operations. Continue reading

Thom Mason on SNS expansion: ‘Even in tough times, you need to be doing new things in science’

snsinstrumentThis is perceived to be a pretty tough time to get new projects funded in Congress, but Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thom Mason said there’s still a plan to get started on an expansion of the Spallation Neutron Source sometime in the next two to four years.

The SNS expansion, which would include a second target facility and essentially double the research capabilities, has already received a preliminary blessing from the U.S. Department of Energy. DOE last year approved “Critical Decision-0,” which means the agency agreed there is a “mission need” for the project. Continue reading