Monthly Archives: February 2011

Final Y-12 SWEIS released; preferred alternative for UPF remains the same; peace group hints at court challenge

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Conceptual image of the Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12.
Source: B&W Y-12
The National Nuclear Security Admistration has released online the Final Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement (SWEIS) for Y-12, which outlines the strategy for modernizing the plant’s capabilities with a new Uranium Processing Facility. The preferred alternative for a “capability-based” UPF remains the same as in the draft SWEIS, which sets the stage for construction of new 350,000-square-foot production facility that would consolidate the plant’s uranium operations and have a capability of annually manufacturing about 80 warhead secondaries and casings.
The alternative also supports construction of a new Complex Command Center, which would house the Oak Ridge plant’s emergency operations — including the fire department.
The final document is posted at this NNSA site. Steven Wyatt, a spokesman at the NNSA’s Y-12 site office, said the Federal Register notice announcing the release is expected to be published Friday.

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Working Wamp

In its Weapons Complex Morning Briefing today, ExchangeMonitor Publications reported that former Congressman Zach Wamp is now doing consulting for B&W and quotes Bob Cochran, B&W Technical Services Group president, praising Wamp’s experience, etc.
I talked with Wamp briefly at the Nuclear Deterrence Summit held earlier this month in Crystal City, Va., and he acknowledged that he was doing consulting for B&W (he was wearing a B&W lapel pin at the time), although he emphasized — as noted in the Morning Briefing report — that he was not involved with B&W’s Oak Ridge operations.

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U-233 project topic of SSAB meeting

The Oak Ridge Site Specific Advisory Board will hold its monthly meeting at 6 p.m. March 9 at the DOE Information Center, 475 Oak Ridge Turnpike.
John Krueger of DOE will discuss the study that reevaluated options for downblending the uranium-233 stored in Building 3019 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.
Here’s the meeting agenda:

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‘It’s purely coincidental’

Some skeptical folks suggested that the Dept. of Energy’s new openness in seeking public input on the budget planning process for Fiscal Year 2013 may be tied to the current budget atmosphere and the likelihood that future budgets will be cut, cut and possibly cut again.
But John Eschenberg, DOE’s environmental manager in Oak Ridge, said that wasn’t the case. “I feel very strongly, as we all do, about running this very collaboratively, very openly,” he said.

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Recovery Act spending at Oak Ridge sites

I asked the Department of Energy for updated spending figures on Recovery Act funds in Oak Ridge, and here’s some info provided on Environmental Management spending by site:
East Tennessee Technoloogy Park — As of Dec. 31, 2010, a total of $42.3 million had been spent. By Sept. 30, the end of the fiscal year, that total is projected to reach $87 million.

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UPF and LEPs: a case of bad timing?

Earlier this month at the third annual Nuclear Deterrence Summit, David Overskei raised the question of whether it’s worth $6 billion to build a Uranium Processing Facility if it won’t be available for work on key Life Extension Programs (LEPs). Overskei, president of Decision Factors and chair of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board’s Nuclear Weapons Infrastructure Task Force, suggested it might be better to have a $3 billion UPF that’s available earlier than a $6 billion version that doesn’t come online until important LEPs projects are well under way or already completed.
During the Q&A period, I asked him if he could elaborate on that, and he did.

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NNSA honors safety pros

Bryan Rhodes, fire protection engineer at the National Nuclear Security Administration’s site office at Pantex, and Gerhardt (Gary) Griess, director of environment, health, safety & quality for National Security Technologies at Nevada, were named the federal and contractor safety professionals of year for 2010, the NNSA announced.

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Some not-so-flattering Oak Ridge distinctions

The K-25 uranium-enrichment plant in Oak Ridge has held many distinctions in its storied history, including producing much of the weapons-grade uranium for the nation’s Cold War nuclear arsenal. At the time of its construction during the World War II Manhattan Project, the mile-long, U-shaped K-25 was the world’s largest building under a single roof.
Here’s another K-25 superlative, this one from John Eschenberg, the Dept. of Energy’s Oak Ridge environmental manager:

“It is the rattiest building I’ve been in — ever.”

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Continuing Education in the men’s room

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It’s all about the learning experience at the American Museum of Science & Energy in Oak Ridge. Thousands of schoolkids annually visit the Department of Energy museum, where exhibits range from the Story of Oak Ridge and its Manhattan Project roots to Earth’s energy sources and hands-on scientific problem-solving. And the education doesn’t stop when you . . . well, when you’ve got to go. The poster pictured here is mounted on the wall above the urinals in the men’s room.

Taking engineering to school

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Elizabeth Poczobut, left, and Joe Parton, students at Midway High School in Roane County, work on a timed exercise to build a tower out of a paper lunch bag, marshmallows and toothpicks. Midway was one of the schools visited by Y-12 engineers during National Engineers Week.

Building a budget plan for FY 2013

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DOE’s John Eschenberg speaks at 2013 budget workshop at American Museum of Science & Energy. The screen behind him contains information on where to send comments or recommendations on how DOE should spend its environmental management money.
workshop 004.JPGJohn Eschenberg, the Dept. of Energy’s environmental management chief in Oak Ridge, said DOE is trying to establish spending priorities for Fiscal Year 2013 based on a projected $600 million budget.
“That’s what I’d like to see,” he said. “Our challenge is how do we get it.”
Eschenberg and DOE invited the public earlier this week to participate in the budget process, asking folks to share their thoughts on what’s important to them and how they think the federal dollars should be spent on a wide range of projects The DOE official noted that Oak Ridge is spending about $750 million on EM projects in Oak Ridge this year, but that includes money from the Recovery Act accounts that will be going away.
Give the current climate, it could be very difficult to achieve a $600 million EM budget for Oak Ridge in 2013. The administration’s proposed spending in 2012 is $401 million, but that includes about $90 million in Recovery Act dollars — and it also includes about $20 million for security costs for the East Tennessee Technology Park.
The whole thing is pretty complicated, which a number of speakers emphasized as they discussed the budget process that takes about a year and half — from the early planning to the time appropriated dollars actually arrive in Oak Ridge.

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