Monthly Archives: September 2009

A new look at Y-12’s ‘dry room’

dryroom2.jpgdryroom1.jpgThe so-called dry room is a high-security facility inside the Y-12 National Security Complex where nuclear warhead parts are assembled, and the area is sometimes known as the place where workers wear moon suits.
According to information provided by B&W, the government’s managing contractor at Y-12, “The ‘dry room’ is an assembly area used to assemble secondaries and canned subassemblies. Atmospheric moisture is maintained at just a few parts per million. Workers in this area wear special suits to maintain this very low level of atmospheric moisture. These rooms are also known as ‘environmental rooms.’ ”
The photograph, at right, was taken earlier this year. You can compare that with what the suited workers looked like in the 1997 photo (inset left).

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Two more companies join the vets-to-engineers programs

Two more East Tennessee companies — Materials and Chemistry Laboratory Inc. and Ingenium Professional Services Inc. — have joined a program that’s designed to help returning or retiring veterans get engineering degrees and land a full-time job at one of the technical companies and institutions.
The program is known as America’s Veterans to Tennessee Engineers, and it’s been spearheaded by B&W Technical Services, the managing contractor at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.

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McCracken officially still a DOE employee

Steve McCracken, DOE’s former cleanup manager, is now working for TVA and heading up the recovery efforts at the Kingston Fossil Plant — scene of last December’s humongous coal ash spill. That was announced earlier this week by TVA.
However, according to DOE’s Oak Ridge office, McCracken is actually on loan to TVA as part of a memorandum of agreement between the two agencies. It’s what’s known in federal parlance as a “detail.” DOE spokesman John Shewairy said in this case it’s a “reimbursable detail,” which means that TVA is “fully reimbursing the full range of costs associated with Mr. McCracken.”

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Russian nuke official gets a look at ORNL’s hot cells

In the photo above, Sergei Kiriyenko (center), director general of Russia’s State Atomic Energy Corporation, talks about nuclear fuel recycling with Kelly Beierschmitt (right), ORNL’s director of nuclear operations. The visit to the Radiochemical Engineering Development Center at Oak Ridge took place on Monday as part of the first meeting of the U.S.-Russian Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security Working Group.

The emerging EM scandal

The reports out of Washington and Savannah River are getting more sensational by the day. Earlier this week, Weapons Complex Monitor reported that Jeff Allison, the manager of DOE’s Savannah River Operations Office, was crying foul over the agency’s decision to replace him and assign him to a detail at DOE headquarters. Allison reportedly sent a message in which he said considered the “dramatic change” to be “retaliation” for participating with the Inspector General’s investigation there.
The Aiken Standard reported similar information. “Jeff Allison, the Department of Energy’s top man at Savannah River Site for the past six and a half years, is no longer in that position, and his leaving seems to be mired in controversy and possibly an act of corporate retaliation,” staff writer Mike Gellatly wrote. Here’s the link to that story.

Some dandy hand-me-downs at ORNL’s computing center

The top-end, high-performance supercomputers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory are pretty amazing. For sure. When the newest machine arrives next year (via the stimulus funding from NOAA), there will be three computers operating at or above the petaflops level in the downstairs computer room at the National Center for Computational Science. The headliners, of course, are Jaguar and Kraken — two Cray XT5 systems that are soon expected to be peaking at 2.3 petaflops and 1.04 petaflops respectively.
That’s downstairs. Upstairs, there are the predecessor machines of Jaguar and Kraken, and they’re still operating at a pretty impressive level, as in Top 20 in the world. Not so shabby, and some good science is on the horizon with these “old” XT4 supercomputers.

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ORNL’s new $95M chemistry lab taking shape

Construction of the new Chemical & Materials Science Lab is making its presence felt in the heart of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, as the steel framework started going up within the past week or so.
The three-story, 160,000-square-foot building is being constructed on an accelerated schedule, thanks in part to the availability of Recovery Act money to jump-start the work. The buidling is now scheduled for completion in 2011, about a year ahead of the earlier schedule.

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Hendrick Construction gets contract for SNS labs

Hendrick Construction of Charlotte, N.C., has received a contract to construct a series of labs in an unfinished part of the Central Lab and Office Building at the Spallation Neutron Source.
According to a press statement from Hendrick, the work will create 13 labs in the 14,000 square feet of space on the building’s second floor.
Frank Kornegay, operations manager at the SNS, said the work will install technical labs in some of space that was left as a shell during the initial construction of the $1.4 billion science research complex at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The Hendrick work is part of the $5 million project to reconfigure the space and install lab equipment for SNS users, Kornegay said.

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Russia’s nuke chief visits Y-12, ORNL

russia.jpgRussia’s nuclear chief, Sergei Kiriyenko, was in Oak Ridge Monday to get an up-close look at the new Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility at Y-12 — as well as some of the facilities at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
He made the trip with Daniel Poneman, the Deputy Secretary of Energy, as well as Tom D’Agostino, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, and others. The meetings in Washington and the trip to Oak Ridge were reportedly part of the first meetings of the joint U.S.-Russian Nuclear Energy and Nuclear Security Working Group.
In the photograph, Kiriyenko (left) gets a look at hydraulic system that is used to lift and lower cans of highly enriched uranium into rackable can storage boxes, which will be used at Y-12 to store the nation’s primary supply of bomb-grade uranium. Darrel Kohlhorst, the general manager of the Oak Ridge nuclear facility, explains the apparatus to Kiriyenko. In the middle is Tatyana Albert, an interpreter.

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Security supervisor fired for alleged threat

Wackenhut Services Inc., the government’s security contractor in Oak Ridge, has confirmed that a security supervisor was fired for allegedly threatening another employee.
“One supervisor was terminated for verbally threatening another employee, while on duty, which is a violation of the WSI-OR Workplace Violence Policy,” spokeswoman Courtney Henry said in response to questions about the incident.
Wackenhut also confirmed other disciplinary actions that have been taken against supervisory personnel and strongly denied that the contractor management had shown more leniency toward supervisors than hourly personnel. Several security police officers in recent weeks have suggested that Wackenhut (also known as WSI-Oak Ridge) uses a double standard in doling out punishments.

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