Monthly Archives: June 2013

Y-12 & Girl Scouts

Y-12 photo

Y-12 photo

B&W Y-12, managing contractor at the government’s Y-12 National Security Commplex, recently donated $2,500 to Girl Scouts summer camp program. In the photo, Booth Kammann, center, left, who is CEO of the Girl Scout Council of the Southern Appalachians, accepts the check from Nancy Johnson, a B&W vice president. In addition to Kammann and Johnson, from left are: Rebekka Range, Anna Vacaliuc, Andrea Range and Marian Vacaliuc.

ORNL’s new research chief encourages debate, demands excellence

2013-P02564.jpgOak Ridge National Laboratory’s new research chief said the federal lab is like a shopping mall, and he meant that as a compliment.
Like other laboratories, ORNL has the scientific staff and wherewithal to carry out basic, fundamental research in its purest form. But, as Ramamoorthy Ramesh noted in an interview last week, Oak Ridge also has the facilities — and the mission support — to work on research applications, develop that science and technology for the commercial marketplace, and even demonstrate manufacturing capabilities.
“Oak Ridge is different. It’s the full spectrum,” the 53-year-old materials scientist said. “This is a very unusual and fantastic opportunity.”

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Getting nuke waste ready to leave Oak Ridge

truwaste1.jpgThe fire alarm at the Department of Energy’s Transuranic Waste Processing Center early this week brought renewed attention the facility that is processing — and preparing for disposal — some of Oak Ridge’s nastiest nuclear wastes.
The Oak Ridge plant has been repackaging and staging TRU waste over the past couple of years in the absence of the Central Characterization Project team to certify the wastes for delivery to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico.
The last shipments of TRU waste from Oak Ridge to WIPP took place in November 2011.

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DOE Oak Ridge not discussing Nevada plan; TDEC not taking position, but says CEUSP material can’t be disposed in Tennessee

The state of Nevada is applying pressure on the Department of Energy to rethink plans to dispose of highly radioactive and fissionable uranium materials at the agency’s Nevada National Security Site (formerly known as the Nevada Test Site), and DOE’s Oak Ridge office has gone silent on the project.
Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and U.S. Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid have expressed their opposition to DOE’s plans to do direct disposal of the uranium mix (with fissile U-233 and U-235) underneath other wastes disposed of at the site.

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Seismic LANL

The Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General today release an audit report that looks at risks of natural disasters and mitigating measures at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The report found that some seismic issues still need to be addressed.

Prepping for another nuclear landfill in Oak Ridge

EMWMF.jpgSpace is running out at the Department of Energy’s CERLCA waste landfill (known as the Environmental Management Waste Management Facility or EMWMF with a max capacity of 2.2 million cubic yards) in Oak Ridge, and the planning is under way for a possible successor facility.
In response to questions, John Owsley of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, provided some of the planning milestones for a second CERCLA Landfill as outlined in the Appendix E of the Federal Facility Agreement. The FFA is a shared agreement by DOE, TDEC and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

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More about that fire-like situation at TRU center

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Department of Energy photo
The Transuranic Waste Processing Center in Oak Ridge.
The U.S. Department of Energy has provided a bit more information about that fire-like situation late Sunday and early Monday that created an alert at the Transuranic Waste Processing Center in Oak Ridge.
In response to questions, DOE official John Shewairy provided this by email about the Room 327 where the alarm went off:

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CROET: No more leases for nuke waste companies

IMG_0774.JPGThe Community Reuse Organization of Tennessee — a key player in reindustrialization old Department of Energy properties in Oak Ridge – is the owner of the property that was home to IMPACT Services’ rad-waste processing plant. CEO/President Lawrence Young said CROET is now shopping for another business for the site on the west side of the East Tennessee Technology Park.
In addition to the seven-acre site, CROET now owns the processing facilities, etc., that were abandoned at the property as a result of IMPACT’s bankrutcy filed a year ago. Young said CROET recently sent notices to individual companies that expressed some interest in the site over the past year. He said he expects to hear back from them by mid-July.
Asked if they were specifically targeting other waste companies as possible candidates, Young said no. In fact, he indicated CROET learned a lesson out of the IMPACT Services deal, and would no longer do leases with nuclear waste companies.

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HFIR resumes operation

The HIgh Flux Isotope Reactor was restarted last week following a relatively short maintenance-and-refueling outage (since June 1).
According to ORNL reactor chief Ron Crone, workers were able to complete all of the 74 planned work activities during the outage. Crone said the plan is to operate the 85-megawatt research reactor until July 12, when it’ll be shut down for another short maintenance period.

A deep-fat-fried battle over Y-12/Pantex

Some of the employees at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant I’ve talked to in recent weeks seem less concerned about who their next contractor/boss is going to be than about when that new contractor is going to take its place and return some sense of normalcy to the Oak Ridge plant. It’s not a good situation for a work population that’s already been discombobulated by the security breach of July 2012 and all the fallout from that extraordinary event.
I periodically hear from workers at Pantex but I don’t really have a sense of the workplace situation there. At Y-12, however, it’s pretty doggone clear that employees are fed up with the government’s long-running procurement and now the additional delays brought on by the protests — including the most recent one by B&W-led Nuclear Production Partners — of the combined contract award made in January. The winning Consolidated Nuclear Security team, led by Bechtel National, also does not seem amused by the continuing delays.

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Megatons to Megawatts

The National Nuclear Security Admininstration and USEC Inc. this week announced a milestone in the 20-year-old Megatons to Megawatts program, which converts downblended enriched uranium from Russia’s nuclear weapons into fuel for commercial nuclear power reactors.
According to the announcement, more than 475 metric tons of Russia’s highly enriched uranium have been elimianted under the U.S.-monitored program. The NNSA said the program is now 95 percent completed, permanently eliminating the uranium equivalent to 19,000 nuclear weapons.

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State supports DOE’s cleanup plan for 2015

In a June 13 letter to Mark Whitney, the Department of Energy’s cleanup chief in Oak Rdige, the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation said it was supporting the DOE budget cleanup planning for Fiscal Year 2015 at this stage of development.
The letter was signed by Robert A. Binford, director of TDEC’s Division of Remediation, which as part of the department’s reorganized structure also includes the DOE Oversight Group based in Oak Ridge.

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The 9212 complex at Y-12

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NNSA photo
This view shows the interconnected facilities that form the 9212 uranium processing complex at Y-12.
One of the supporting arguments for building the mutlibillion-dollar Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant is to get out of the old and deteriorated 9212 uranium complex.
Much has been said about 9212’s roots in the World War II Manhattan Project and its perpetual need of maintenance and repairs in order for the plant to meet its nuclear defens requriements.
Here is the description of the complex provided earlier by the National Nuclear Security Administration:

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