Monthly Archives: September 2010

One-year contracts awarded at Y-12, Pantex

The National Nuclear Security Administration today announced that it had awarded one-year contract extensions at Y-12 and Pantex, allowing time to prepare for the competition that will combine the management contracts at the two sites (and possibly include the tritium work done at Savannah River).
Today’s action follows through with what the NNSA announced its intent to do back in June.

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Y-12 role on W84 ‘under review’

The National Nuclear Security Administration announced earlier this week that Pantex had completed the initial disassembly and inspection of the W84 warhead, and at the time I noted that Y-12 had no immediate comment on what role the Oak Ridge facilities would have on the project to evaluate the aging effects.
In a response today by e-mail, NNSA spokesman Steven Wyatt said, “Y-12’s role in this work is under review and no decisions have been made at this time.” When pressed for some context on that, Wyatt said, “That’s all I can say.”

ORNL in late September

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Hibiscus, with ORNL Conference Center in background.
I was at Oak Ridge National Laboratory yesterday afternoon and armed with a camera, which can be a pretty deadly pairing. Anyway, while on my way back to the car, I was shooting this and that and stopped to take a picture of this flower outside the Research Office Building, where the National Center for Computational Sciences and various other lab programs are located. Not being much of a gardener myself, I asked for help in identifying the plant and was told by my office mates (including columnist Sam Venable, who typically knows about critters and other such things) that it was a hibiscus.
However, when I was on the phone with Pat Parr, ORNL’s natural resource manager who was responsible for much of the landscaping around The Quad, she said there weren’t any hibiscus there. She asked that I send her the pic, which I did, of course, and here’s her reply.

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Y-12 employment steady

According to Ellen Boatner, spokeswoman for B&W Y-12, the government’s managing contractor at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, employment at the end of August was 4,677. That’s up by a few hundred from last year at this time, but it’s been pretty steady in recent months.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory, which last year passed Y-12 in employment for the first time in a long time, has about 4,900 empoyees currently. ORNL Director Thom Mason recently noted that the lab had hired about 500 people this year, with a net growth of about 250.

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Suresh confirmed as NSF director

The Senate confirmed Subra Suresh to be the next director of the National Science Foundation. Suresh, most recently dean of engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, was nominated for the NSF post in June to succeed Arden L. Bement, Jr.
Bennett stepped down after six years serving as director of NSF and is now leading Purdue University’s new Global Policy Research Institute.
U.S. Rep. Bart Gordon, the Tennessee Democrat who heads the House Science and Technology Committee, said this about Suresh:

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Day of Remembrance for Cold War nuke workers

Four U.S. Senators, including Tennessee’s two (Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker), today joined in announcing Senate passage of a resolution designating Oct. 30 as a National Day of Remembrance for Nuclear Weapon Program Workers. “The Day of Remembrance honors the thousands of men and women who supported the nation’s nuclear efforts during the Cold War,” said the announcement, which was distributed also by Sens. Jim Bunning, R-Ky., and Tom Udall, D-N.M.
Last year was the first time the day was recognized, with the bipartisan effort spearheaded by Bunning.

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EnergX gets VPP ‘Star of Excellence’

EnergX has received the Voluntary Protection Program “Star of Excellence” for 2010 from the Department of Energy.
Tony Buhl, EnergX president and CEO, said in a statement, “We are pleased to receive this prestigious recognition for the Transuranic Waste Processing Center project in Oak Ridge . . . Congratulations to all TWPC employees for its safety commitment and performance, and we thank them for their dedication to safety and their service.”

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‘It’s like building a Corvette in a Model-T factory’

Sen. Lamar Alexander, Tennessee’s senior senator and the third-ranking senator in the Republican Caucus, said today he hadn’t yet decided whether to vote for ratification of the New START Treaty. Alexander said his support will depend on whether there are plans in place to modernize the nation’s nuclear weapons facilities — including the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.
Alexander said every senator who has visited Y-12 and similar facilities in Texas and New Mexico has seen workers handling nuclear weapons in “substandard” conditions.
“It’s like building a Corvette in a Model-T factory,” the senator said in a teleconference with Tennessee reporters.

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DOE: refrigerator rule could save $18.6B by 2044

Proposed energy efficiency standards for home refrigerators and freezers could save consumer as much as $18.6 billion over the next 30 years, the Dept. of Energy said. In a statement, Energy Secretary Steven Chu said, “As technologies continue to improve to meet these latest standards, we’ll help to address climate change while saving families across the country billions of dollars.”
Here’s the proposed rulemaking.

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EPRI’s cyber group to work on power protection

The Electric Power Research Institute’s cyber security collaborative — a broad base of expertise that includes ORNL — has been chosen by DOE to assess and develop technologies and provide other assistance to help protect the electric systems in the U.S. from cyber attacks.
According to info relased by EPRI, DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory and the EPRI-led collaborative will negotiate a funding level for the public-private research initiative.

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