Monthly Archives: September 2011

Manhattan Project artifacts up for sale; but history’s not the big attraction

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ORNL photo
Some of the D-ring magnetic coils once used in the uranium-enrichment calutrons at Y-12. Each of the magnets contains about 22,000 pounds of copper.
Nine really big magnetic coils, once part of the World War II calutrons that enriched uranium for the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, are up for sale.
The attraction to bidders, however, is apparently not the history of the Manhattan Project units, but rather the value of the metals. Each of the “D-ring coils” reportedly contains 11 tons of copper. Copper has been trading at $3.15 to $3.25 a pound in recent days, so there’s obviously some money to be made there.

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136 B&W employees get WARN notices tied to American Centrifuge project

Earlier, I posted about the number of USEC employees in Oak Ridge who got WARN notices as a result of the uncertain future of the American Centrifuge Plant. Paul Jacobson, a VP with USEC, this evening also confirmed that 136 Oak Ridge employees with B&W, USEC’s partner on the manufacturing of centrifuge machines, got WARN notices as well. That means that layoffs could be coming in a month.

USEC issues 190 warn notices in Oak Ridge

As posted earlier, a lot of stuff going down today with USEC and its American Centrifuge Plant. The actions appear a bit more frenzied as time is running out on efforts to put together financing for the multi-billion-dollar project and still no word from the Dept. of Energy on application for $2B in loan guarantees.
USEC sent out WARN notices to some employees, alerting to possible layoffs a month from now. According to USEC VP Paul Jacobson, there were a total of 190 WARN notices
sent to direct USEC employees in Oak Ridge. That includes 14 USEC employees that are working at the joint manufacturing company with B&W, he said.

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The biggest so far

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Dept. of Energy photo
Demolition work at the K-33 building earlier this year.
The Dept. of Energy’s Oak Ridge office announced that the K-33 demolition project has been completed, including the shipment of 164,000 tons of steel and concrete debris to the Superfund landfill on the federal reservation.
According to DOE, K-33 was the largest demolition ever completed in Oak Ridge. (The K-25 project, of course, will be much bigger when it’s finished.)

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Tea time in the Atomic City

On Wednesday, the Dept. of Energy will conduct its monthly test of the emergency warning system, with sirens to be sounded between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The sirens ae located near the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, Oak Ridge National Lab, and the East Tennessee Technology Park. “People in these areas during the test will hear a siren for three to five minutes,” DOE said in its announcement.

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USEC extends but scales down American Centrifuge investment, prepares for demobilization

USEC announced today that the company’s board of directors had voted to continue investment in the American Centrifuge Plant for October, but at a reduced rate. The company also is making preparation for possible demobilization as of Nov. 1, directing suppliers to suspend some activities, and notifying workers of possible layoffs to come.
USEC said its strategic investors, Toshiba and B&W, had agreed to extend their “standstill agreement” through October. The company is still hoping for a conditional agreement from the Dept. of Energy for a $2 billion loan guarantee.

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12 TRU shipments from Oak Ridge . . . and then

Because of anticipated budget shortages in Fiscal Years 2012 and 2013, the Dept. of Energy is scaling back activities, including the funding of the Central Characterization Project at the Oak Ridge site where transuranic wastes are processed. Without the CCP to certify the wastes, there won’t be any shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (which recently reached a milestone of 10,000 shipments received).
In response to questions, DOE spokeswoman DiAnn Fields confirmed there are 12 shipments planned from Oak Ridge to WIPP before the halt. Fields said the shipments to WIPP will take place from mid-October to mid-November, involving seven contact-handled shipments and 5 remote-handled shipments to New Mexico.

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Y-12, UT agree to share personnel

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Y-12 photo
Y-12 General Manager Darrel Kohlhorst, holding large coffee, talks with UTK Chancellor Jimmy Cheek and Debbie Reed, Y-12’s liaison to UT.
The Y-12 National Security Complex and the University of Tennessee this week reached another partnership agreement, this one allowing the formal exchange of personnel. The Joint Assignment Agreement is supposed to help both institutions accomplish goals in technology, business and research.
UT-Knoxville Chancellor Jimmy Cheek and B&W Y-12 President and General Manager Darrel Kohlhorst signed the agreement in Oak Ridge Wednesday, following a meeting that involved about 250 Y-12 managers.

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John Stewart named Y-12 nuclear safety chief

stewart.jpgJohn Stewart, acting chief of nuclear safety operations at Y-12 since January, now has the job on a permanent basis. His appointment was announced this week by Darrel Kohlhorst, the president and general manager of B&W Y-12.
In a statement, Kohlhorst said, “Our priority at Y-12 is always the safety of employees, the public and the environment. John’s continuing leadership ensures an uninterrupted focus on safe operations.”
Stewart is a retired Navy captain. His assignments included commanding the U.S.S. Tennessee, a nuclear ballistic missile submarine. He also commanded the Trident Refit Facility in Kings Bay, Ga.

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When the world is falling apart, hazards aplenty, and your smart phone won’t help

A new communications device developed at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant could reportedly offer unique capabilities for emergency situations. Y-12 said the instrument, known as the Personal Annunciation Device or PAD, is now available for commercial licensing.
According to B&W Y-12, the government’s managing contractor at the Oak Ridge plant, the PAD uses radio frequency identification (RFID) technology that allows the person wearing the device to be notified of potential emergencies within seconds. At the same time, it provides emergency responders with the wearer’s location, the contractor said.
“The PAD responds instantly and performs over a frequency range that can penetrate areas where pager or cell phone messages would not be received,” B&W said. “This technology was developed in response to National Nuclear Security Administration concerns about notifying individuals over wide areas where local warning devices may not operate, as well as needing to know the location of both incidents and individuals.”

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One-day-a-week jobs (for retirees) at Y-12

Retiring workers at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant will now have the option of working one day a week under a new program called PReP (Post Retirement Program). According to info unveiled today, the option will be available to B&W Y-12 employees who are at least 65 by Dec. 31. Open enrollment will be held Oct. 3-31.
B&W, the government’s managing contractor at Y-12, said the idea is to allow employees to transition into the retirement while they share their decades of experience with a new generation of workers. The program will help ensure that the Oak Ridge plant retains the critical skills necessary for the national security missions, the contractor said.

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Nuke milestone: 10,000th shipment to WIPP

A big milestone was reached at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, where some of the nation’s nastiest nuclear waste are sent for disposal in old salt formations 2,150 feet below the surface. The 10,000th waste shipment was received at WIPP, near Carlsbad, N.M., according to info released today by the U.S Dept. of Energy.
DOE said the 10,000th shipment came from the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment Project in Idaho and arrived at WIPP on Sept. 24. The very first shipment to WIPP came from Los Alamos National Laboratory on March 26, 1999.