Even if the NNSA chooses the preferred alternative on weapons complex tranformation and names Y-12 as the uranium center of excellence, there’s no guarantee a new Uranium Processing Facility will be built at Oak Ridge.
According to federal officials at this week’s PEIS hearings in Oak Ridge, that decision will be made on whether the UPF “proves to be cost effective.” Of course, cost effective in federal parlance could mean almost anything.
One more sign that the government is planning on keeping the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in operation for a while:
On March 4th, the Y-12 folks are hosting a media shindig and ceremonial ground-breaking for a $62.5 million upgrade to the plant’s potable water system.
At my request, Oak Ridge Associated Universities shared a copy of a new epidemiologic study, published in the Health Physics journal.
The title is “Cancer Risk in Nuclear Workers Occupationally Exposed to Uranium — Emphasis on Internal Exposure.”
The Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance invoked the 2007 essay, “A World Free of Nuclear Weapons,” written by Henry Kissinger, George Shultz, Sam Nunn and William Perry and published in The Wall Street Journal, as part of the group’s push for a “no production” option in government plans for the weapons complex of the future.
Well, the National Nuclear Security Administration wasn’t about to let that stand, quickly disseminating copies of letters from Kissinger, et al, in support of the Reliable Replacement Warhead, etc.
Today was the last day for salaried employees at Y-12 to file applications for the Voluntary Separation Payment Program, but no word yet on how many people opted for the incentive package to leave the Oak Ridge payroll.
Debbie Shecterle, B&W Y-12’s senior vp and human capital chief, recently said the company made the offer in order to avoid layoffs where possible — trying to maximize the federal dollars budgeted for plant operations. She said the contractor estimated that for every four people who accepted the buy-out package at Y-12, one job would be saved.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has received 289 comments so far on the EnergySolutions application to import up to 20,000 tons of nuclear waste from Italy.
“For one of these licenses, that’s a huge number (of comments),” NRC spokesman David McIntyre said this afternoon.
Susan Gawarecki, executive director of the Local Oversight Committee, got a chuckle out of the recent blog item regarding a speaker at the Integrated Facilities Disposition Project workshop who declared his entire presentation on Y-12 “Official Use Only.”
On a more serious note, Gawarecki said, “The LOC thinks that OUO has gone way too far and is inconsistently applied. Our Policy Committee is studying the issue.”
Well, it ought to be interesting on Aug. 6 or whenever the next protest is staged at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, because the government and its contractors appear to be playing games with The Blue Line that marks the so-called 229 Boundary.
On protest days, crossing The Blue Line makes one subject to arrest and federal charges. Now, however, with completion of Y-12’s New Hope Center and the staging of public events there, hordes of people regularly cross The Blue Line without clearance or prior approval.
Ted Wyka, the presiding federal official at Tuesday’s public hearings on weapons complex transformation, laughed when I asked him what he thought when a 9-year-old girl called him insane.
“I don’t enjoy being called insane, but I admire the public participation, including some young folks,” said Wyka, who has two young kids of his own. “It’s a strong statement, but I think I’ve been called that before by my 5-year-old.”
John Whalen (above, shown speaking at Tuesday’s Oak Ridge hearing on weapons complex transformation) made a road trip last week to North Augusta, S.C., to see what the folks from the Savannah River Site were doing and saying at their hearings.
Lillie and Woody Allred, newly married in 1945
Lillie and Woody Allred, in the summer of 2007 (photo/Clay Owen)
Lillie Allred, a Manhattan Project worker and a wonderful woman, died this week after a 12-year war with cancer. I’ll have more on her in my Wednesday column.
Congratulations to the Oak Ridge High team that over the weekend won the Tennessee Science Bowl, defeating 53 other teams. The winning team members were Rowan Crakovmakos, Woody Austin, Ryan Liu, Katherine Xue and Alborz Bejnood. Eddie Anderson was the coach.
The ORHS team will represent the state in the National Science Bowl, which will be held in Washington in early May.
Retired Air Force Col. Joseph E. Sutter, who has lived in Knoxville since 1994, said he couldn’t attend Tuesday’s public hearings on transformation of the nuclear weapons complex. But he submitted comments and passed along a version to me.
I thought I’d make them available here: