Monthly Archives: June 2014

CNS ready to go

Consolidated Nuclear Security, the new managing contractor at Y-12 and Pantex, said it completed all of its transition activities as scheduled and within budget and is ready to get started.

“We have completed all the readiness reviews with the NPO (NNSA Production Office) and have been approved to proceed on July 1,” CNS spokesman Jason Bohne said. Continue reading

A sign of change

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A maintenance crew (from left) of Ed Ragsdale, David Orr and Randy Martin change the name of the plant’s management and operations contractor on the entrance sign at the Y-12 National Security Complex. Work got started at about 5:30 this evening, after most of the plant’s workforce had left for the day. Consolidated Nuclear Security officially takes over management of the Oak Ridge plant at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, replacing Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services Y-12.

GAO: N-weapons sites need a ‘clear vision’ on security

Efforts to reform security activities and cut costs at the nuclear weapons sites in the 2009-2012 timeframe have been among the things blamed for the July 28, 2012 security breach at Y-12. In a new report released today, the Government Accountability Office takes a look at what the National Nuclear Security Administration has done to address security and what it should be doing.

Here’s a brief excerpt: Continue reading

ORNL’s Hemrick honored

Hemrick200 (2)James Hemrick, a materials researcher at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is this year’s co-recipient of the ASM International Silver Medal Award. According to info distributed by the lab, the award recognizes two mid-career researchers each year, one from academia and one from industry, who have been leaders in the society and made significant contributions in materials science and engineering.

Hemrick’s research focuses on advanced refractory ceramic and insulation materials, mechanical properties of ceramics and other high temperature materials and mechanical evaluation of nuclear fuel clad materials, the lab said.

Dozens of Y-12 workers exposed in 1958 nuclear accident

Official reports on the worst nuclear accident in Oak Ridge history have always focused on eight radiation victims who were hospitalized following the event and monitored for the rest of their lives to gauge the radiation effects. But, according to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, dozens of Y-12 workers received radiation doses from the June 16, 1958 accident.

The NIOSH study estimated the doses likely received by 31 individuals who were in the vicinity of the shop when a solution of weapons-grade uranium was inadvertently drained into a 55-gallon drum. The container was unsafe for the enriched uranium, which generated an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction that released dangerous levels of radiation. Continue reading

Contract transition is finally here

y12enterIt’s a holiday week coming up, and there will some fireworks of sorts on the federal front. July 1 will bring about another major transition in Oak Ridge, as Consolidated Nuclear Security takes over management of the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant. It’s part of a new contract that combined the management of operations of Y-12 and its sister plant in Texas, Pantex.

This thing has been in the works for so long, many years in fact, that some folks are having a difficult time believing it’s actually here. At Y-12, CNS will replace Babcock & Wilcox Tecnical Services Y-12, which has been the managing contractor since late 2000. Even though the contract change has been on the horizon for what seems like forever, the actual transtion period — following a lengthy delay due to protests on the $22 billion award — was whittled from a planned six-month changeover to four months. To hear CNS officials tell it, this has been a very hectic time in which much had to be accomplished — such as taking inventory of all the government property that will now become the new contractor’s responsibility. Continue reading

Catching up on a non-proliferation plus

I was gone or otherwise missing in action recently when the folks at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant announced a significant non-proliferation milestone. Y-12 said it had fulfilled its commitment to provide low-enriched uranium (20 percent U-235 or lower) as feedstock to fuel the SLOWPOKE (Safe LOW-POwer Kritical Experiment) research reactor in Jamaica. Continue reading

Y-12 mercury update

Laura Wilkerson, the Department of Energy official who oversees Environmental Management activities at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, said a new treatment facility that’s in development to remove mercury from the headwaters of East Fork Poplar Creek will filter about 3,000 gallons a minute when it comes online around 2020. That’s double the capability when the project was first announced, apparently upgraded based on negotiations with environmental regulators. In a perhaps-not-unrelated matter, the project’s price tag has gone from $120M to $125M.

The senator had the touch

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On July 12, 1984, U.S. Senate Majority Leader Howard Baker tries his hand at operating the advanced servio-manipulators at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The technology had applications for remote operations in the nuclear industry, as well as potential applications in space. (Department of Energy archives/photo by Frank Hoffman)

Fleischmann comments

Here’s a statement released by U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann:

“It is with deep sadness today that I learned about the passing of one of Tennessee’s greatest statesmen, Mr. Howard Baker. As both the Senate Majority Leader and President Reagan’s Chief of Staff, Howard had an unparalleled ability to lead and build consensus allowing him to shape our nation as few before or after him ever have. His impact on the Republican Party and our country as a whole will forever be remembered. Brenda and I offer our sincerest condolences to his wife, family, friends, and colleagues during this difficult time. I was blessed to have learned from Howard while serving as his Congressman and know that his spirit and legacy will continue to live on for years to come.”