Monthly Archives: August 2014

Deputy director leaving ORNL for post at Berkeley Lab

rameshAfter little more than a year as Oak Ridge National Laboratory deputy lab director for science and technology, Ramamoorthy Ramesh is leaving ORNL to assume a newly created position — associate laboratory director for energy technologies — at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. Here’s the announcement at Berkeley Lab.

ORNL Director Thom Mason announced the news to staff and said the plans for choosing Ramesh’s successor have not been firmed up. He said he doesn’t anticipate having someone new in that position before the first of the year. In the meantime, Mason said he would assume some of Ramesh’s responsibilities.

Mason said high praise for Ramesh’s brief tenure at ORNL, saying the lab benefited greatly from his work. Continue reading

Fill ‘er up (1943)


The Happy Valley  gas station in 1943 during the World War II Manhattan Project.  Happy Valley was the name of the Oak Ridge construction camp, which consisted mostly of trailers and shacks, near the K-25 plant. (Department of Energy archives/Ed Westcott photo).

IG releases report

radioAfter initially stamping its inspection of the government’s readiness to respond to nuclear emergencies “official use only” and refusing to release it publicly, the Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General changed course and released the report.

Before releasing the report, the IG changed the title of the report from “The Department’s Response to Radiological Emergencies” to “The Readiness of the Department’s Federal Radiological Monitoring and Assessment Center.” Other than that and removing the OUO designation, the IG didn’t revise the report before its release, spokeswoman Felicia Jones said.

The findings were largely positive. Continue reading

TDEC appoints Chris Thompson deputy director for Remediation; will play lead role in DOE oversight

Chris P. ThompsonChris Thompson, who most recently served as director of external affairs for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation’s Knoxville field office, has been appointed deputy director for the Division of Remediation and will play a lead role in the DOE Oversight Office in Oak Ridge.

She will fill the role previously held by TDEC veteran John Owsley, who will serve as a senior advisor in the DOE Oversight Office. Continue reading

Y-12/Pantex contractor preps for Continuing Resolution

Consolidated Nuclear Security, the government’s managing contractor at Y-12 and Pantex, this morning issued some preliminary guidance for dealing with a continuing budget resolution for Fiscal Year 2015 (which begins Oct. 1).

“CNS expects to begin FY 2015 under a continuing resolution,” the guidance said. “While under a CR only incremental funding is provided. It is critical that we manage our cash flow and commitments in such a manner as to maximize use of available funding.” Continue reading

A new use for old tires

ornlrecycleAccording to a release from Oak Ridge National Laboratory, old tires could prove beneficial in upgrading lithium-ion batteries that are used to power plug-in vehicles.

“By modifying the microstructural characteristics of carbon black, a substance recovered from discarded tires, a team led by Parans Paranthaman and Amit Naskar is developing a better anode for lithium-ion batteries,” the ORNL release stated.

“An anode is a negatively charged electrode used as a host for storing lithium during charging.” Continue reading

Helping Vietnam

The National Nuclear Security Administration today announced that it’s been holding workshops in Vietnam to help better prepare the country for response to nuclear and radiological emergencies. According to the NNSA release, workshops were staged last week in Hanoi and this week in Ninh Thuan. Continue reading

HFIR’s fuel conversion seeming less likely

This is a follow-on column to earlier post on the HFIR:

hfircalifornDespite its age, the High Flux Isotope Reactor is considered one of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s most valuable assets.

The High Flux Isotope Reactor was built in the 1960s. That’s pretty old by reactor standards. But the HFIR has undergone a significant makeover in recent years — replacement parts, infrastructure upgrades and new research capabilities — and lab officials have stated their intention to operate the 85-megawatt reactor for decades to come.

It’s apparently good to go.

One lingering question: When will Oak Ridge National Laboratory convert the reactor to use a lower-enriched uranium fuel? Continue reading

DOE: Stay out of our quarry

lambertquarryThere are some new signs on the north side of the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge reservation (like there weren’t a lot already). The new ones are warning folks to stay off the road leading to Lambert Quarry, where some unauthorized visitors have been found swimming, etc., in recent times.

John Shewairy, DOE’s assistant manager for administration in Oak Ridge, confirmed that the new signs had been put in place near the city’s greenway system that incorporates some of the federal patrol roads. “It’s actually not on the Greenway system, but it is an area that people have walked/hiked/biked and continue to do so,” Shewairy said via email. ” We have noticed people swimming in the Quarry in recent weeks; hence the signage.” Continue reading