Monthly Archives: November 2013

When does UPF construction really start?

Construction progressing on sediment basin 5If it seems like I ask an awful lot of questions about the Uranium Processing Facility, that’s because the UPF is an extraordinarily big, expensive and important project with implications on everything from national security to fiscal responsibility to economic growth on a local and regional scale. Beyond that, a lot questions are necessary just to get clarity because the National Nuclear Security Administration and its contractors haven’t been wholly open about the planning process. That makes sense, right?

Of course, I’m not the only one with questions. U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander has been pushing the government to get a design for UPF, get it right, and let everybody know where the UPF project is headed.

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Who was involved in Y-12/Pantex decision?

raines-001As was posted earlier, Bob Raines was the Source Selection Authority for the decision announced Nov. 1 on the Y-12/Pantex combined contract, which reaffirmed the earlier contract award — made in January — to the Bechtel-led Consolidated Nuclear Security team.

Raines, pictured right, is the National Nuclear Security Administration’s associate administrator for acquisition and project management, and he replaced Michael Lemke, who served as the SSA on the first-go-round on the $22 billion contract award (actually Lemke replaced Neile Miller toward the end of the initial procurement as decision-time grew near in late 2012). Bruce Held, interim administrator of the NNSA, reportedly tapped Raines for the SSA role in mid-September in order to get another exec’s evaluation of the three proposals for the giant contract.

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Y-12 began mentoring small biz in 1998

The folks at Y-12, both federal and contractor, didn’t want to comment directly on the Inspector General report on DOE’s Mentor-Protege Program, but B&W Y-12 — the government’s managing contractor — said the program has been a positive force for 15 years.

” Y-12 signed its first Mentor-Protégé Agreement in 1998 with Turner Harper and Associates and has since been committed to supporting local, regional and national small business economic growth,” the contractor said in an email response to questions. “The program has graduated 24 protégés and, at present, it has seven current protégés who support Y-12’s mission.”

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Safety awards for Y-12

The Y-12 nuclear weapons plant recently received a couple of safety awards, including the National Safety Council’s Occupational Excellence Achievement.

According to B&W Y-12, the government’s managing contractor, this is the 10th consecutive years the Oak Ridge plant has received the council’s award — which recognizes companies with no fatalities and an injury-and-illness rate that’s well below the Bureau of Labor Statistics rating for their industry.

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ORNL’s Mason: ‘I hope the nominations proceed fairly quickly’

Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thom Mason said there are a lot of challenges facing the Department of Energy, including the Office of Science, and he said he’s hoping the recent nominations put forward by President Obama — Marc Kastner as director of the Office of Science and Franklin “Lynn” Orr as under secretary for science and energy — will be dealt with quickly.

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NNSA commits $10.9M to boost work on Mo-99

The National Nuclear Security Administration this week said it would commit an additional $10.9 million to a cooperative agreement with NorthStar Medical Radioisotopes to help establish domestic supplies of medically needed Molybdenum-99. The isotopes are valuable in medical diagnostic procedures.

The key to the accelerated project is that NorthStar’s production capabilities don’t rely on the use of highly enriched uranium, so it can be eliminated from the process and achieve a nonproliferation goal. Continue reading

Oak Ridge sludge-processing facility to cost $100M+

The work is still in a preliminary stage, but the Sludge Processing Faciity Buildout project at the Department of Energy’s Transuranic Waste Processing Center in Oak Ridge is expected to cost more than $100 million, a spokesman said this week.

Mike Koentop, executive officer of DOE’s Environmental Management Office in Oak Ridge, said the “early estimates” suggest that the cost for design and construction of the facility will exceed $100M.

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The Warehouse at Y-12

warehouse-001

This is Building 9720-5, also known as The Warehouse, where they used to house the really good stuff at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant before they built the $549M Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility. Now they store some lower-assay, lower-security uranium materials at The Warehouse, plus maybe some other things. (B&W Y-12 photo)

‘One of the world’s preeminent courses’ on nuke security

The National Nuclear Security Administration today said it had recently completed the 24th International Training Course — in conjunction with the State Dept. and the IAEA — at Sandia National Labs in New Mexico. There were 45 participants from 39 different countries for the course on physical protection of nuclear materials, Oct. 20-Nov. 8, the NNSA said.

Here’s a quote from NNSA Deputy Administrator Anne Harrington:

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Weaknesses in DOE’s mentor-protege program; Oak Ridge examples cited in IG audit

The Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General today released an audit report that looks at the DOE mentor-protege program that’s supposed to help small businesses develop and learn about government contracting.

According to the report, however, some of the small businesses had plenty of experience before they entered the DOE contracting program, and in other cases the small businesses appeared to hopscotch from one DOE institution to another. Oak Ridge examples were prominent in the IG report.

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ARPA-E antes up $30M for new program

The Advanced Research Projects Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) today announced $30 million in available funding for a new program “focused on the development of transformational electrochemical technologies to enable low-cost distributed power generation.” The program is supposed to develop fuel cell technology for distributed power generation to “improve grid stability, increase energy security, and balance intermittent renewable technologies while reducing CO2 emissions,” the announcement said.

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