Monthly Archives: September 2013

9212’s presence will linger in Protected Area

9212Even after the uranium operations are transferred from the 9212 complex during the first phase of the Uranium Processing Facility (reported to be completed around 2025), the World War II-era facility will remain inside the Protected Area at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant.

That’s the plan, apparently because the National Nuclear Security Administration doesn’t want to make repeated relocations of the Perimeter Intrusion Detection and Assessment System (PIDAS) and make other changes pending completion of UPF’s second and third phases — reportedly scheduled for the mid-2030s.

Continue reading

Fox named to key role on B&W’s small, mod reactors

Babcock & Wilcox today announced that William A. (Bill) Fox III has been appointed senior vice president and chief operating officer of its majority-owned subsidiary, Generation mPower LLC (GmP).

GmP is a joint company formed by B&W and Bechtel to design, license and build the next generation of nuclear power plants based on the small, modular reactor tecnology, including a Clinch River project not far from Oak Ridge National Lab. GmP is working with TVA on the project. Continue reading

Y-12 GM’s message

Chuck_Spencer_014RT-001Here’s what Y-12 General Manager (and President of B&W Y-12) Chuck Spencer said in a message to employees on the final day of FY 2013 and perhaps hours before a government shutdown because of the political stalemate in Washington:

As you have no doubt seen in national news reports, the U.S. Government is facing a possible shutdown of some services starting tomorrow if a fiscal year 2014 funding mechanism isn’t put in place. Regardless of what happens today, we don’t expect there will be a significant short-term impact to B&W Y-12. Our “carryover” funding (essentially funds left over from last year that were not spent) is sufficient to get us started in the new year. So, all employees should report to work tomorrow unless you already have time off scheduled. Continue reading

Energy Frontiers: Another $100M up for grabs

Plans for $100 million in Energy Frontiers funding in FY 2014 was announced today by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, with some of the proposed funds potentially going to some of the existing 46 Energy Frontier Research Centers that received five-year funding in 2009 and are due to expire. The competition will decide that or whether to back new and innovative centers for scientific breakthroughs that make a big difference on U.S. energy use and/or production in the 21st century.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is host to at least a couple of Energy Frontier Research Centers.

Here’s a statement from Moniz: Continue reading

Y-12 & Pantex contracts extended through January

Steven Wyatt of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Production Office today confirmed that the management contracts at the Y-12 and Pantex nuclear weapons plants have been extended through Jan. 31, 2014.

Wyatt said the contract extensions do not include money set aside for contractor-transition activities, a rumor that seemed to have some traction. The NNSA,  of course, is still weighing its next move in the award of a combined Y-12/Pantex management contract. GAO recently denied a second protest on the contract award, which Consolidated Nuclear Security won back in January.

GAO did not uphold any of the three components of the protest by Nuclear Production Partners (a team lead by Babcock &Wilcox), one of the losing bidders. But the GAO ruling cited some aspects of the protest as being “premature.”  There is still a possibility of other appeals.

Currently, B&W Y-12, a partnership of Babcock & Wilcox and Bechtel National, manages Y-12, while B&W Pantex, a similar partnership, is managing the plant in Texas.

This will be the 13th time the management contract has been extended at Y-12.

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Feb. 2, 1992, a Presidential visit at ORNL


It was Feb. 2, 1992, at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and even though it was wintertime in East Tennessee you can still stage things outdoors — such as this signing by Joe Coors, seated at left, the president of Coors Ceramics, and ORNL Director Al Trivelpiece. Up top, that’s Admiral James Watkins, the secretary of energy, and President George H.W. Bush. The scene is in front of the High Temperature Materials Laboratory at ORNL. (Department of Energy photo/Lynn Freeny)


Shrinking Y-12’s PIDAS apparently will be done in phases

y12It’s is decidedly difficult to keep track of the schedules for designing and building the Uranium Processing Facility — and related projects — because they keep changing, and the National Nuclear Security Administration has been a little stingy with the updates.

Given the current priority on moving out of the 9212 complex and transferring that uranium work into UPF as the first phase — and deferring the relocation of the work currently done at 9215 and Beta-2E until later — it would appear that also would significantly alter the plans to shrink Y-12’s Protected Area to an eventual goal of 15 acres. That’s when all the work is supposed to be operational at UPF, and the PIDAS (Perimeter Intrusion Detection and Assessment System) would then encircle UPF and its next-door neighbor, the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility. Continue reading

A new look at managing spent fuel

I reported last week that the Department of Energy had provided $60 million in grants to universities for nuclear research and related projects, with about $3 million going to institutions in Tennessee.

Steven Skutnik, assistant professor in nuclear engineering at the University of Tennessee, got $755K for studies related to the industry-long question about what to do with spent nuclear fuel. In particular, Skutnik wants to develop new capabilities for a fuel cycle simulator called CYCLUS. His proposal is to build on an ORNL-developed software package for nuclear modeling called ORIGEN. Continue reading

DOE’s ‘Lapse of Appropriations’ Plan

The Department of Energy has laid out its plans for dealing with a potential government shutdown, including who’ll be needed regardless and who won’t, program by program. Here’s DOE plans (with a Q&A format) for implementing activities if the federal funds stop flowing.

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National Urban League president at ORNL


Marc Morial, second from left, the president of the National Urban League, was at Oak Ridge National Laboratory for a brief visit. He’s shown here at the Spallation Neutron Source. Accompanying him were, from left, Phyllis Nichols, president of the Knoxville Urban League, Warren Logan, president of the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga, and Sam McKenzie, the complex facility manager at the SNS.

As FY’14 approaches, Y-12 preps for more cost-cutting

There’s a lot of talk in Oak Ridge about the threat of government shutdown and the various (and evolving) budget scenarios as Fiscal Year 2014 approaches. That’s true at Y-12, as well as ORNL and the other federal facilities.

Indeed, B&W Y-12 President and General Manager Chuck Spencer delivered a message to Y-12 employees on Thursday warning that fiscal times could be tough. Here’s what he said.

Continue reading

‘My dog ate my homework while I was working for the CIA’

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, along comes the case of John Beale, a long-time senior official at EPA (In the Office of Air and Radiation), who pleaded guilty in federal court to taking nearly $900,000 in pay and benefits from EPA while pretending to be on assignments for the CIA. He even faked a story (about getting malaria in Vietnam) in order to get a better parking space. Bloomberg has the report. It’s a must read. Now Congress is wanting to find out exactly what’s been going on at EPA.