Monthly Archives: March 2012

Four DOE appointments confirmed

Four high-level appointments at the Department of Energy have been confirmed by the U.S. Senate.
They are David Danielson, assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy; Dot Harris, director of the Office of Minority Economic Impact; Charles McConnell, assistant secretary for fossil energy; and Gregory H. Woods, general counsell.
Here’s the background on the four provided by DOE:

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Y-12 in 1959: Management hanging out by the Buick, talking Cold War stuff

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Y-12 archives via Ray Smith
The Y-12 leadership team in 1959, from left to right, W. E. Heckert, W. K. Whitson, John P. Murray, Roger F. Hibbs, Georg A. Strasser, R. A. (Dixie) Walker, Robert C. Olson, Dan H. Rader, George W. Flack, J. W. (Bill) Ebert, Ed, C. Ellis and Jack M. Case. Y-12 Historian Ray Smith said the identification comes from Bill Wilcox’s book, “An Overview of the History of Y-12, 1942-1992.” Smith said he didn’t know the context of the photograph or why there are plans of some sort lying on the truck of the Buick. “I suspect they are looking at a drawing of the pending upgrades to some part of the plant,” he said. Smith said the photograph was taken looking south, with the Alpha-4 Building on the left and the old Steam Plant in the background.

Advances in Reactor Physics, April 15-20

The American Nuclear Society’s Oak Ridge/Knoxville local section will be hosting Physics of Reactors Topical Meeting in mid-April at the Knoxville Convention Center. The topic areas include: reactor analysis methods, fuel and reactor core designs, fuel cycle physics, neutronics calculations and experiments, research reactors and spallation sources, advances in reactor materials, education in reactor physics, reactor kinetics, safety analysis, multiphysics simulations, Fukushima Dai-ichi: One Year Later.
Here’s the conference Website.

The Kennedys, Feb. 24, 1959

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A graphics mural in Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s visitors/conference center depicts the Feb. 24, 1959 visit by then-Sen. John F. Kennedy, who was running for President, and his wife and future First Lady, Jacqueline. That’s ORNL Director Alvin Weinberg briefing the Kennedys (and Sen. Albert Gore Sr. in the background) at the Oak Ridge Research Reactor.

Another nuclear facility bites the dust at ORNL

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ORNL photos/Jason Richards
2012-P00901.jpgBuilding 3503 wasn’t pretty, at least not in its final days. Come to think of it, old nuclear facilities never are. But it’s the latest structure on Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s historic Central Campus — where the Manhattan Project got going in a big way — to bite the dust. 3503 came down last week.
The work isn’t finished, of course. The debris has to hauled away, as part of the project being handled by Safety and Ecology Corp. (now part of Perma-Fix) as a piece of the 34-facilities D&D umbrella effort.
The contaminated debris from the ORNL demolition project will be transported to the CERCLA landfill in Oak Ridge, the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility in Bear Creek Valley.
According to ORNL spokesman Bill Cabage, Building 3503 was the former High Radiation Level Chemical Engineering Laboratory on White Oak Avenue. The barn-like structure was constructed in 1948, and it has been vacant about a decade, Cabage said.

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USEC says it can fund project thru May

USEC Inc. said today it’s continuing to support the American Centrifuge project “pending further efforts to obtain federal funding for a centrifuge Research, Development and Demonstration (RD&D) program proposed by the U.S. Department of Energy.”
DOE included funding in its budget request for FY 2013, but the potential appropriation has been hotly debated in Washington and elsewhere.
“USEC has been funding project activities that support the RD&D program since the start of 2012,” the company said in today’s release. “USEC announced that it plans to continue funding for this purpose through May 31, 2012 as it continues to work with DOE and Congress on securing the government cost-share for the RD&D program. Due to restrictions in the Company’s credit facility, funding can only continue beyond May 31, 2012 if government funding for the RD&D program is secured.”

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Former Sen. Howard Baker at ORNL

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photos/Jay Nave for ORNL
baker_headFormer Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr. was at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for a visit today. He spent much of his time receiving briefings at Everest, a computer visualization chamber where science comes to life on a wall-size display. In the photo above, Paul Gilna gives an overview of the lab’s Bioenergy Science Center. From left are Jonn Tuck of Baker Donelson law firm; grandson Matthew Baker, who works in the applications performance group of ORNL’s Computer Science and Mathematics Division; Senator Baker; senior advisor Fred Marcum; ORNL Director Thom Mason; and Jamison Daniel of the visualization lab. The 86-year-old Baker also heard from ORNL Deputy Director Thomas Zacharia on high-performance computing; researcher Craig Blue on additive manufacturing; Doug Kothe on advanced simulation of nuclear reactors; and Budhendra Bhaduri on geospatial information systems. During his extraordinary career in public service, Baker has worn many hats — including Senate Majority Leader, White House Chief of Staff (for President Reagan), and Ambassador to Japan. Baker was a close friend of the late Alvin Weinberg, who directed ORNL for 18 years, and he frequently was a champion for Oak Ridge’s federally funded programs.

U.S. nukes official visits Israel, touts cooperative efforts to counter nuclear terrorism

Neile Miller, principal deputy administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, visited Irael’s Port of Ashdod, the agency announced today. The NNSA cooperated with Israel in 2009 in installing a radiation detection system at the port to scan cargo conainers “for special nuclear or other radioactive materials that could be trafficked throught the international shipping system,” NNSA said.
“The Port of Ashdod is an international sea terminal that supports a large volume of global cargo traffic and is an important port to equip with radiation detection systems and capabilities. This cooperation is a key component of NNSA’s nuclear nonproliferation mission to reduce the global risk of nuclear terrorism,” the NNSA said.

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Update on HEUMF litigation

I reported earlier this year there were signs of progress in the Federal Court squabble over construction costs on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge. Indeed, B&W Y-12 chief Darrel Kohlhorst said last month it was in everybody’s best interest to “get this wrapped up.”
I communicated by email today with Warren Barrow, executive VP of Caddell Construction and a frontman for the Caddell-Blaine Joint Venture that headed construction of the $549M high-security storage complex for bomb-grade uranium, and he offered a bit of an update.

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Three men and a moon box

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Y-12 archives
One of the proud accomplishments in Y-12 history was to develop and manufacture “moon boxes” for the historic Apollo 11 mission in July 1969. Astronauts used the boxes to collect and bring back to Earth nearly 50 pounds of moon rocks and soil, and the Y-12-made boxes were also used in subsequent Apollo missions. Each of the boxes was machined from a single piece of aluminum, “seamless except for the lid opening, which had a metalized gasket that firmly sealed when closed.” Metal straps secured the lid while in transit. The boxes are on display in multiple places, including the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and in the Y-12 History Center. The above photograph, taken in 1969, shows one of the boxes in a Y-12 clean room surrounded by three employees. Oddly enough, despite the project’s importance, nobody at Y-12 seems to know who the men are in the photo. Can anybody help?