Monthly Archives: August 2008

If, if and when . . .

If the proposed multi-billion-dollar Integrated Facilities Disposition Program gets approved and funded, two of the first projects will involve demolition of Buildings 9201-5 and 9206 at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant. Those are big buildings.
According to the July 18 weekly memo from the staff of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board assigned to Y-12, those two major facilities are skedded in the first phase of the IFDP.

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Modifying the Bechtel Jacobs contract

DOE and Bechtel Jacobs Co. are still negotiating modifications to the Oak Ridge cleanup contract, which is expected to have a definitive end date of Dec. 31, 2011.
The existing contract was a closure contract, which means it didn’t have an actual end date but was based on completing the scope of work. The target date for completion was supposed to be Sept. 30, 2008, but that has long since been declared unattainable.

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Corker’s in Georgia

corkerblog.jpgSen. Bob Corker’s office just released info that he has landed in Tbilisi, Georgia, where he will meet “with American and Georgian officials on the ground and visit Gori to survey damage, view humanitarian operations, and assess future needs.”
Tennessee’s junior senator is a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

RIP: Holifield National Laboratory

Does DOE’s proposed “branding” effort remind anyone of the 1974-75 period when Oak Ridge National Laboratory unwillingly had its name changed to Holifield National Laboratory as a tribute to retiring Congressman Chet Holifield of California?
It literally took an act of Congress to restore the Oak Ridge nomenclature, enabled in part by shifting Holifield’s name to the research accelerator that today is known as the Holifield Radioactive Ion Beam Facility.

What would be the cost of DOE’s “branding”?

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This sign might be exempt because it’s on privately financed building.
Well, here’s what ORNL communications chief Billy Stair said when asked about the potential impact of a draft DOE plan that’s aimed at bettering the federal agency’s brand:

We would have to change our entrance signs, all of the business cards, all of our exhibits, all of the signage on doors and laboratories, and an array of things I can’t even recall. . . So, it’s not a trivial exercise.

Actually, Stair said he shared DOE’s sense that it could improve the agency’s identity, and he was part of a working group that contributed to the development of DOE’s draft directive. He said he was asked to provide input and did on multiple occasions, including one trip to Washington.

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Final cleanup of ORNL reactor on hold

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Entrance to the Tower Shielding Reactor (photo/Michael Patrick)
The 1950s-era Tower Shielding Reactor was defueled a few years ago, and since then it’s remained in a “surveillance and maintenance” mode.
There’s no date yet for final cleanup, but DOE said it will be a part of the proposed Integrated Facilities Disposition Program, which still awaits funding.

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(Bureau)Crat fight: More silliness at DOE

Once again, the Dept. of Energy is trying to come up with some kind of extra-long arm to pat itself on the (shoulder). This time it’s a communications directive. DOE wants to make sure its name shows up on all Internet pathways and at every visual turn in its buildings.
The feds have always been rampantly jealous of their labs and/or contractors, who tend to get more credit for their work and earn a bunch more money. But the “power” has always rested with the Government and, unfortunately, it tends to get used in silly ways like.
Credit to LANL: The Rest of the Story and John Fleck on his blog and perhaps others for bringing the latest nonsense to light.

Stamp of approval for nuclear weapons

stamp.jpgY-12 recently completed its First Production Unit for the refurbished W76 warheads, which are deployed on Trident submarine missiles. In reporting on that, the term “diamond stamping” came up again, referring to the fact that the warhead parts had passed through the strict quality-control regimen that’s required for nuclear weapons.
I inquired about the actual stamps that are used to certify these parts as good to go and what they look like. The NNSA, after some considerable review, denied my request for a photograph of a stamping, but a spokesman for the federal agency did provide some background information and a “sample” illustration of what one of the warhead stamps might look like (see inset).

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The big wait at SNS

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Robert Cummins, a remote-handling technician, with replacement vessel.
(photos/Clay Owen)
snsremote.jpgToday’s column is about the Spallation Neutron Source, where folks are anxiously awaiting the first changeout of the target vessel that holds 44,000 pounds of mercury. The mercury circulates through the stainless-steel vessel in a loop, generating neutrons as it’s pounded by an incoming proton beam many times a second.
Eventually, there are plans to change the vessel three or four times a year (see target service bay at right), but for the time first the SNS folks are running the system to failure — trying to learn what stresses and damage will cause a breach in the vessel walls. It could happen at any time.

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