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During an interview at Y-12 last week, Jim Haynes, president of incoming contractor Consolidated Nuclear Security, talked about the current state of the Uranium Processing Facility and — at least in general terms — how the big project will be handled when CNS takes over responsibility for management of Y-12 and Pantex.

“UPF is part of the contract or will be part of the contract,” Haynes said. “I think UPF right now is in such a period of change that we’re sort of waiting to see the results of the Red Team evaluation.”

He said he was part of a briefing on the Red Team results a couple of weeks ago at ORNL before the final report was prepared.

“Thom Mason said there’s a clear consensus,” he said. “There was a pretty clear feeling on their part that UPF can be built for $6.5 (billion). And with the capabilities of 9212 put in by 2025. But, in order to do that, they needed to make some changes in the structure of the building and continue some of the momentum of the design so that you can get there.”

Asked if he was referring to the structure of the main building, he said, “Well, the essence of the report was that . . . it’s really a combination of a New Build together with some infrastructure builds within the current buildings (9212 and Beta-2E) as well as some expense-related, sort of the normal stuff you do, like the Facilities Risk Reduction program and that sort of thing that’s already ongoing.”

Haynes said the move ahead would require a combination of investments.

“The biggest part of that solution is the New Build. So, the New Build, what we need to do is make sure that the design effort that’s under way now is focused on things that are not going to change and that’s where you need to maintain momentum. But that every dollar you spend is going to be a good investment in the future.”

Haynes said the UPF team has now been restructured to focus on the “high-equity” part of the design effort, work that everyone is confident will be part of the future. At the same time, they’re awaiting details of the Red Team report before they “open the aperture” again on the big project’s design, he said.

How will the UPF construction contract be handled?

“That’s still to be worked with the customer,” Haynes said. “I think what you will find, as with most large construction projects where you have a critical path that really determines whether you’re going to make it or not, is it will be a combination of subcontracted construction managed by a central construction management organization within CNS.”

He indicated there would likely be a combination of different subcontract packages, noting one of the current arrangements on site prep where Avisco is working under the management of the Army Corps of Engineers with the support of the M&O contractor (currently B&W Y-12).

“And it seems to be working well,” he said.

That management model could be used for a portion of the New Build, but other packages could be handled differently, citing work with heavy mechanical and electrical work — really specialized activities — that could really cause the project to slip if it gets off the critical path.

“Quite often on these big packages you will subcontract out the pieces that sort of fit the subcontractor community,” he said.

“Avisco is a perfect fit to do the piece of work they’re doing. They’ve got a fleet of equipment and got good local experience. But you would pick someone else for the heavy electrical/mechanical that really does this for a living and quite often we’ll use crafts or those who’ve been there augmented by the local union hall of the Knoxville Building Trades.”

He added: “The actual contract mechanism is not fixed yet. UPF is behind what’s called CLIN1  . . . . in terms of the negotiations of the contract . . . It’s probably going to continue to lag because we want to get the Red Team assessment completed and locked in so that we can then negotiate based on fixed scope. If you don’t have fixed scope, you can’t do anything.”

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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.