Monthly Archives: December 2013

UCOR earns $3.1M for last half of FY2013

URS-CH2M Oak Ridge (UCOR), the U.S. Department of Energy’s cleanup manager in Oak Ridge, received performance grades of “excellent” and “very good” and earned a total fee of more than $3.1 million for the six-month period that ended Sept. 30. That was out of a maximum available fee of about $3.43 million.

The results were contained in a Dec. 20 fee letter from DOE Environmental Manager Mark Whitney to UCOR President Leo Sain. Continue reading

HFIR pipe being repaired from inside (with cabon fiber)


Department of Energy photo/Lynn Freeny

A pipe leak that stalled the scheduled Nov. 19 restart of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s High Flux Isotope Reactor is being repaired with an innovative use of carbon fiber.

2013-P05014According to Ron Crone, ORNL’s reactor chief, more than 200 feet of pipe that forms the reactor’s cooling tower return line is being lined with sheets of carbon fiber. The leak fix should provide a permanent solution for an old pipe that was due to be replaced anyway, Crone said.

“That pipe has been in the ground 50 years,” the lab official said.

The repair is being done by Structural Preservation Systems LLC, based in Anaheim, Calif., Crone said. The carbon fiber being installed inside the pipe is supposed to be structurally sound, so that even if the original pipe exterior corrodes away it should still be sound for decades to come, he said.

Continue reading

NNSA’s chief scientist to speak at Baker Center

Dimitri Kusnezov, chief scientist at the National Nuclear Security Administration, will speak Jan. 8, 5-7 p.m., at the University of Tennessee’s Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for PUblic Policy. His Distinguished Lecture will be titled, “Computation and Science Policy.” The event is sponsored by the UT Institute for Nuclear Security.

Here’s background information distributed by the institute: Continue reading

Worker advocates not keen on ORAU’s role in compensation program

I posted a couple of items recently about Oak Ridge Associated Universities’ effort to retain the contract to do dose reconstructions for NIOSH as part of the sick nuclear workers compensation program. While proposals for a new contract are under review, ORAU and its team received a two-month contract extension to keep the work moving ahead. A wrap-up piece is on today.

While ORAU is pursuing a new contract for the work it’s done since 2001, not everyone is rooting for a re-up. Continue reading

Y-12 security upgrades continue in wake of 2012 breach


Bales of concertina wire and other barriers have been put in place at the site where Plowshares protesters cut through the PIDAS fences and reached the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility on July 28, 2012. (B&W Y-12 photo) Photo below shows the scene following the break-in.

Security Breach HEUMF

One of the embarrassing parts of the July 28, 2012 security breach at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant was the relative ease with which three protesters were able to cut their way into the high-security Protected Area and reach the plant’s storage facility for bomb-grade uranium.

A slew of security improvements have been made since then, including construction of new barriers at the fence line near the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility.

In response to a long-standing request, the Y-12 contractor recently released the above photograph that shows the bales of concertina wire that have been put in place to stall the entry of anyone approaching the sensitive area on ground.

Continue reading

Spokesman: ‘CNS has been fully responsive’

I posted a couple of blog reports earlier about the Nuclear Production Partners’ most recent protest on the Y-12/Pantex contract award, which among other things said the NP2 team — headed by Babcock & Wilcox — didn’t get a fair shake during the National Nuclear Security Administration’s re-review of proposals that resulted from an earlier protest upheld by the GAO. The NP2 protest suggested that the contract winner, Bechtel-led Consolidated Nuclear Security, got favored treatment during the review that affirmed the earlier award to CNS.

So what did the CNS team have to say about the allegations in the NP2 protest? Continue reading

ORNL’s plutonium-for-space project on pace

REDCA $20 million pilot project to demonstrate Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s ability to produce plutonium-238 for the U.S. space program reportedly got off to a good start in 2013 and is currently on schedule.

So far, the project has produced only minute quantities of the plutonium form that’s used in space-based power sources — known as radioisotope thermoelectric generators or RTGs — but the ORNL team met its September deadline for establishing the cost range and preliminary schedule for the project.

Tim Powers, a division director at ORNL, said the team is continuing to work on design of targets that are inserted into the core of the lab’s High Flux Isotope Reactor, where the plutonium-238 is generated. The targets used to produce the plutonium are made of radioactive neptunium-237. Continue reading