The strategy for speeding up UPF

The federal folks at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant won’t release the plan for accelerating the building of the Uranium Processing Facility, calling the document “pre-decisional,” but a newly released memo from the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board provides some of the highlights.
The plan was ordered by National Nuclear Security Administration defense programs chief Don Cook in order to take advantage of the higher-than-anticipated funding level for FY 2013., The Obama administration recommended $340 million and that has been supported by the Senate’s Energy and Water Appropriations Bill.


“It’s pre-decisional at this point,” NNSA spokesman Steven Wyatt said of the document that’s titled, “”Acceleration of the UPF Project to Support Building 9212 Transition.” The report was headed by federal projects manager Harry Peters and the UPF team at B&W Y-12.
The DNFSB released some details in a March 23 weekly operations report by staff assigned to Y-12.
The safety board report confirmed the proposed plan is to begin shutting down operations in Building 9212 in FY 2019 and “achieve full operations” of the 9212 operations inside UPF in FY 2023.
The board memo also said the plan calls for NNSA to defer the transition of Buildings 9215 and 9204-2E to UPF in order to put the emphasis on getting out 9212 and transferring the capabilities there. Building 9215 is where Y-12 performs enriched uranium rolling, forming and machine. Building 9204-2E (also known as Beta-2E) is where dismantlement operations are conducted, as well as some sensor testing with actual weapons components and other activities.
“Given this deferment, NNSA Headquarters has requested an evaluation of potential incremental investments that may be required for facility risk reduction in Buildings 9215 and 9204-2E,” the defense board memo said.
The board memo said the NNSA staff at Y-12, along with B&W, had launched a study to re-evaluate the conclusions and recommendations of a 2007 risk study of the two production facilities.
“This re-evaluation is expected to result in new recommendations for safe, extended operation of these facilities,” the DNFSB memo said.
The DNFSB staff also said the UPF alternative plan calls for both the NNSA and B&W to conduct operational readiness reviews to determine readiness for the “base facility and supporting infrastructure systems.” In addition, the new UPF strategy would “revise current schedules for the preparation, review, and approval of safety basis
documentation and related reviews to support acceleration.”
The memo added, “Safety basis documentation will also need to be reworked to address any new hazards associated with the phased completion of the project.”
According to the defense board notes, the plan for accelerating UPF also identified a number of capabilities that need to be installed in existing facilities in order to facilitate the transition of Building 9212 operations and deferment of Building 9215 and 9204-2E capabilities.
Those include:
— Chip cleaning and briquetting need to be installed in Building 9215 by FY 2018
— Direct Electrolytic Reduction and Electrorefining need to be installed in Building 9215 by the end of FY 2016.
— A calciner needs to be installed in Building 9212 by FY 2016.
The DNFSB said the NNSA had accepted the acceleration plan from B&W Y-12.

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About Frank Munger

Senior Writer Frank Munger covers the Dept. of Energy's Oak Ridge facilities and many related topics — nuclear weapons, nuclear waste and other things nuclear, environmental cleanup and science of all sorts. Atomic City Underground is, first and foremost, a news blog, but there's room for analysis, opinion and random thoughts that have no place else to go.