Tentative five-year contract agreement at Y-12; 1,100 workers to vote on Thursday

y12overviewThe Atomic Trades and Labor Council, which represents about 1,100 union workers at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, has reached a tentative agreement on a new five-year contract.

The ATLC reached the tentative pact with Consolidated Nuclear Security — the government’s managing contractor at Y-12 — after four weeks of negotiations. Continue reading

News of note (briefly)

mccorkleMorgan McCorkle, a public affairs specialist at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for the past five years, has been named the lab’s media relations manager. McCorkle (pictured, left) will report to Communications Director David Keim. The media relations position has been vacant since Mike Bradley left the lab in 2009. . . . Y-12 contractor Consolidated Nuclear Security has created a Community Investment Fund and will be accepting applications for one-year grants for “projects or programs that address community needs and economic development opportunities.” The grants could range from $500 to $10,000, according to CNS. Applications and grant information are available at the East Tennessee Foundation website. . . . Continue reading

No news on Y-12’s search for DU

Early this year, Y-12 contractor Consolidated Nuclear Security announced that it was looking for thousands of tons of high-purity depleted uranium and asked for expressions of interest from potential suppliers. A few months later (in April), a Y-12 spokeswoman confirmed that the contractor had received “several” expressions of interest and was evaluating those for a possible procurement. Continue reading

ORNL wins two ARPA-E awards; UT gets two, too

ORNLmrfEnergy Secretary Ernest Moniz last week announced $125 million in grants for “transformational energy technology projects,” including two projects to be headed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The projects are funded through DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

The ORNL projects include work on new cast alumina-forming alloys and design of 2-D proton-selective membrances for use in storage technologies. Continue reading

Inside a B53 bomb — literally

667439loresDuring a Nov. 12 “special access” tour at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, which included a visit to Building 9731, the original pilot plant for the electromagnetic processes that separated the U-235 for the “Little Boy” bomb dropped on Hiroshima, there were a number of must-see moments. Among them was the outer casing of a dismantled B53 bomb, once the largest bomb in the U.S. nuclear arsenal (with a reported yield of 9 megatons). It was reportedly nicknamed “Big Dog” by the folks at the Pantex assembly/disassembly plant and has been described as being the size of a mini-van. Up close, it appeared to be a little smaller than a mini-van, but maybe that’s because it didn’t have any wheels. Tour participants weren’t allowed to bring cameras (or electronics of any kind), but Y-12 photographer Brett Pate seemed to be snapping away at a furious rate. As I was taking a closer look at the B53 shell on display in 9731, Pate captured my every move — including when I stuck my head inside the bomb casing (see below). No, nobody dared me to do it. I was just curious. (CNS photos/Brett Pate)



16 years

photo Sunday’s Peace Vigil at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge will mark the 16th anniversary of the weekly event staged by the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance. It is one of the most enduring peace actions of its kind in the U.S. The Nov. 29 gathering begins at 5 p.m. across the street from Y-12’s main entrance on Scarboro Road.

The MOX situation

The MOX project at Savannah River leads an uncertain life, but the money flow continues — as does the debate about its role in the nation’s nonproliferation efforts. Here’s an update from Derrek Asberry of the Aiken (S.C.) Standard. Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thom Mason led a “Red Team” earlier this year that examined alternatives (report posted via Union of Concerned Scientists) for plutonium disposition.

More barriers at Y-12

IMG_4994In the days and months following the July attacks on military sites in Chattanooga, security was bolstered at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge. That included increased security at New Hope Center, which is outside the main security fences at Y-12 and includes the visitor center, a history museum, and a number of offices and labs. No longer is access to the center immediate, and Y-12 has also installed some additional barriers  inside the center’s lobby — apparently to help protect against the kind of drive-by shootings that occurred against targets in Chattanooga.