Monthly Archives: July 2014

Wendy Cain to head ETTP cleanup for DOE

cainThe Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge office has named Wendy Cain as federal project director for cleanup of the East Tennessee Technology Park — the former Oak Ridge uranium-enrichment plant.

Cain will oversee all of the cleanup and demolition activities at the sprawling site.

“At the forefront, Cain is directing the removal of the K-31 and K-27 buildings, which are the final uranium enrichment facilities at ETTP,” DOE said in the announcement. “In this position, she will oversee the site’s cleanup completion estimated for 2022 and the area’s transfer to private industry.” Continue reading

Listening to Oppenheimer, et al


Famous portrait of Robert Openheimer in Oak Ridge on Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, 1946. (Department of Energy archives/photo by Ed Westcott.

The folks at the Atomic Heritage Foundation seem to come up with one good idea after another. If you haven’t tried the “Voices of the Manhattan Project” website, check it out. You can hear interviews with Gen. Leslie Groves and J. Robert Oppenheimer, among others. These audio wonders are great for scholars or just the Manhattan curious, perhaps even appealing to a new audience hooked on the highly promoted TV show “Manhattan.” Continue reading

Report: Los Alamos scientist canned after published article ‘retroactively’ classified

The Center for Public Integrity has a strong article about James E. Doyle — a former political scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory — who was reportedly fired following last year’s publication of an essay (“Why Eliminate Nuclear Weapons?”) in the international journal Survival: Global Politics and Strategy. According to the center’s article by Douglas Birch, with contributions from R. Jeffrey Smith, information in the Doyle piece on nuclear arms policy was retroactively classified after initially being cleared for publication. The center’s article focuses on what happened, as well as some perspectives on why.

Annual report details physical concerns at 9212 and other old facilities at Y-12; funding for long-term rehab could be a problem


Aerial view of the World War II-era 9212 uranium complex at Y-12. (B&W Y-12 photo)

A newly released memo by staff of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board highlights key findings in the annual report by the Continued Safe Operability Oversight Team (CSOOT) at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge. The team performs evaluations of the condition at the 9212 uranium complex and other key production facilities and plant infrastructure at Y-12 that are growing long in the tooth and facing significant deterioration issues. The team looks at changing conditions as well as tracks the progress on upgrades taking place to try to extend the life of the old buildings.

The center of attention, as always, is the World War II-era 9212 complex. Continue reading

Activist group ups pressure for new impact study at Y-12

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KNS photo/Michael Patrick

The Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance earlier this month called on the National Nuclear Security Administration to do new environmental impact statement for the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant because of the changing plans for the Uranium Processing Facility. Today the group ratcheted up its pressure with a letter to the Department of Energy’s Office of National Environmental Policy Act, citing multiple reasons why the federal agency is legally obligated to take another look at the impacts on a major project that’s undergoing significant changes.

OREPA cited three areas of concerns: Continue reading

Keith to head DOE’s financial evaluation division

keithVicki Keith has been named director of the Financial Evaluation and Accountability Division at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office. According to the announcement, she will have broad responsibilities in financial management oversight and review. That includes independent reviews of contractor financial systems and internal controls.

Keith began her federal career in 1989 as a contract auditor with the Defense Contract Audit Agency.

She is a certified public accountant and holds a business degree from East Tennessee State University.

BGS wins $3.96M contract for DOE support services

bostonBoston Government Services, a Lenoir City-based small business founded by former Department of Energy executive Harry Boston, has been awarded a support services contract from DOE with a maximum value of $3.96 million.

According to information released by DOE’s Environmental Management program, the contract will be for three years. “The contract will be a Time-and-Materials contract.” DOE said. Continue reading

Tom Humphrey, Nashville bureau chief, retiring

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Tom Humphrey, the News Sentinel’s long-time bureau chief in Nashville and a superlative journalist and good guy, is retiring, effective July 31 (tomorrow). He was at the newspaper’s home base in Knoxville today, where the staff got a chance to say good things about him and munch on a potluck feast. He’s pictured here with Managing Editor Tom Chester, left, and Rebecca Ferrar, retired political reporter, at right. The bad news, of course, is that Humphrey is retiring and won’t be producing copy at his legendary rate. The good news is that he won’t disappear entirely  but will continue to freelance for the newspaper and share his political wisdom and knowledge of how things work (or don’t work) in the state’s capital. Good luck, Tom.

Dutch Van Kirk, navigator of Enola Gay, dies at 93; visited Y-12 and Oak Ridge in 2000


Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk, the navigator of the Enola Gay and the last surviving member of the mission that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, is shown here at the American Museum of Science and Energy during a June 9, 2000 visit to Oak Ridge. (Department of Energy photo/Lynn Freeny)

Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk, the last surviving member of the Enola Gay crew that delivered the atomic bomb and dropped it on Hiroshima, Japan, died earlier this week in Stone Mountain, Ga., at age 93. His death has brought forth numerous reports on his life and, of course, the unending debate about the use of the bomb to help end World War II.

Here is the Associated Press report by Kate Brumback, as it appeared in the Air Force Times. Here’s an obituary story by Steve Chawkins in the Los Angeles Times. And Richard Goldstein did a story in The New York Times.

Van Kirk was open and accessible during his 2000 visit to Oak Ridge, where he toured Y-12 and participate in anniversary events at the American Museum of Science and Energy.

Here is a story I wrote on his visit: Continue reading

HFIR ready for restart


Department of Energy photo

Tim Powers, Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s research reactors chief, said the High Flux Isotope Reactor is scheduled for restart on Tuesday afternoon.

“Our most recent outage was short (since July 11) and routine,” Power said by email. “Some typical preventive maintenance as well as surveillance testing.” Continue reading