NNSA calls burying UPF an ‘old argument,’ says it wouldn’t boost safety or security

UPF rendering_hi res

NNSA rendering shows the planned Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12, with the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility in foreground.

A number of individuals who spoke at Tuesday’s Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board hearing raised the issue of putting the Uranium Processing Facility underground, or at least have it covered for all but one side. The argument was that it would bolster security and benefit safety.

The Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance was joined by the Alliance for Nuclear Accountability in pushing that proposal, and the Project On Government Oversight previously proposed a similar plan.

The National Nuclear Security Administration, however, seems firm on keeping the UPF above ground. Here’s a statement from NNSA spokesman Steven Wyatt:

“This is an old argument and one that has been reviewed on multiple times over the years during the design and construction of HEUMF and also during the early design phases for UPF.   Constructing  UPF underground is simply not necessary and would not increase the safety or security of the facility and would lead to additional, unnecessary costs.  Given the hydrogeology of the Y-12 site, above ground construction for UPF is the best overall approach.”

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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.