Monthly Archives: April 2012

After Chu misspeaks, Y-12 goes mum; what’s the reality about Lake Reality?

You wouldn’t think you’d have to go to the state of Tennessee to get factual information about operations at the federal Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, but that’s the situation — especially as regards the environmental activities.
Info is always tough to come by at Y-12, in part because of high security and classification issues, but that’s multiplied in an election year. Or so it seems.
Earlier this year I asked the Y-12 public affairs folks about the operation of Lake Reality, which was constructied in the 1980s to help stem pollutant releases into East Fork Poplar Creek, and I got stony silence in return. There was apparently a complete lockdown on information because Energy Secretary Steven Chu misspoke during a Senate hearing. Nobody would say a word.

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Where did Los Alamos scientific staff get their PhDs? Illinois tops the list

losalamos.jpgLos Alamos National Laboratory, despite some well reported problems over the past decade, remains a magical name in science and engineering and one of the world’s premier research labs.
Recently I posted information about where science staffers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory received their doctorates. I posed the same question to folks at Los Alamos, who responded pretty promptly with some interesting stats.
It may be a surprise to people that the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, heads the PhD list at Los Alamos. Of note, Illinois was No. 4 on ORNL’s list.

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Bringing NPS into the K-25 game

The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, one of the signatories to the preservation agreement in Oak Rdige, invited the National Park Service to prepare the report that’s gaining so much attention and reinvigorating the discussion about preserving part of the K-25 uranium-enrichment plant.
In an April 11 letter to the Department of Energy, Reid Nelson — the council’s director of federal agency agency programs — explained the report in the context of Section 213 of the National Historic Preservation Act. Nelson also suggested that DOE invite the National Park Service to participate in the upcoming discussions (a meeting is set for May 17) about possible changes in the mitigation plan and agreement.

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Seeding the Manhattan Project Natl Park

According to Cindy Kelly, president of the Atomic Heritage Foundation, a “discussion” draft of a bill to create a multi-site Manhattan Project National Historical Park is now circulating in the U.S. Senate and a version may soon arrive in the House of Representatives. The park, if approved by Congress, would be established at Los Alamos, Hanford and Oak Ridge.

Bye-bye, ORNL mail robots

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ORNL photo
Mail Services employee Carolyn Harrell loads mobile carrier in this 1999 photo.
Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s mail robots are known collectively as “Herman Postman,” cleverly named for Herman Postma, the long-time ORNL director who was in charge at the tiime of their arrival in 1980. According to info from ORNL, the mobile mail carriers will be retired on Monday, April 30, after a good three decades of “loyal service.”
You couldn’t spend much time in ORNL’s 4500 North Complex without becoming familiar with the automated mail carriers. Their beeping in the hallways became background noise to the daily activities taking place at the administrative hub and central research facility.

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Ex-Gov. Phil Bredesen visits ORNL

Former Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen visited Oak Ridge National Laboratory earlier this week and among the facilities he visited was one named after him, the Bredesen Center for Interdisciplinary Research and Education. He met with students there, according to information released by the lab.

Emergency Preparedness Fair May 5

The Anderson County Emergency Preparedness Fair will be held May 5 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Clinton Community Center. Admission is free.
The event is sponsored by URS-CH2M Oak Ridge, the Departmemt of Energy’s environmental cleanup manager in Oak Ridge.

Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson says NPS recommendation isn’t feasible

UCOR photo
The North Tower of K-25 is bottom left in this aerial photograph taken recently.
The City of Oak Ridge is an important stakeholder when it comes to historic preservation and planning for the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. So I asked City Manager Mark Watson what he thought about the report by the National Park Service that endorses the concept of saving part of K-25 in place for future generations to see and study.
Watson was involved in consensus plan approved by Oak Ridge City Council and multiple other groups back in February that seemed to set the stage for a final agreement on demolition of K-25 and mitigation steps by the Department of Energy.

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Cindy Kelly calls NPS report ‘masterful’

Cindy Kelly, president of the Atomic Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., was equally surprised and elated by the National Park Service report that recommends saving a piece of K-25’s North Tower to help future generations understand the workings of the World War II Manhattan Project and the Cold War.
“I think their report was masterful,” Kelly said. “It was beyond anybody’s expectation. We were told to expect maybe a five- or six-page report, and they delivered this 26-page report with all sorts of diagrams and analysis of what could and should be done. It was very comprehensive. I don’t think anybody expected that.”

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K-25 confab May 17; preservation’s back on the table

UCOR photo
Aerial photograph taken earlier this month shows K-25’s North Tower at bottom right, with the West Wing already gone and the middle of the East Wing partially demolished.
The Department of Energy had pretty much declared the K-25 decisionmaking a done deal, but now the federal agency will bring together the preservation parties one more time to discuss mitigation plans for the historic uranium-enrichment facility. The meeting comes in the wake of the National Park Service’s report that strongly supports preservation of two cells and the exterior walls of K-25’s North Tower.
DOE spokesman Mike Koentop said the meeting of signatories and consulting parties to the preservation agreement will be held May 17 at the G Conference Room in the 2714 Complex adjacent to the Federal Office Building in Oak Ridge. It will begin at 8:30 a.m.
DOE wants to demolish the K-25 building in its entirety (all of the West Wing and almost half of the East Wing are already down), but this new move by the Interior Department could change things in a big way.

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