Monthly Archives: October 2014


shults2I talked this evening with Dub Shults, retired director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Analytical Chemistry Division and a close friend of Clyde Hopkins — an Oak Ridge icon who died earlier this week.

“We’ve been friends since 1952,” said Shults, pictured right. “We played golf together for 40 years, went on golf trips together. He was a very close friend.”

It’s difficult, of course, to calculate the loss of loved ones, whether it’s family members, long-time work colleagues or friends. Those of us who live long enough learn to absorb and accept the pain and move forward. But it never gets easy. Continue reading

Made in Oak Ridge? Why not?

targetWith the recent problems at the Spallation Neutron Source, including back-to-back failures of the target vessel (reminiscent of the 2012 shutdown) and other issues, folks are asking a bunch of questions about one of Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s most important research facilities.

I got a message earlier this week from some of the craftsmen at ORNL who said they have world-class manufacturing capabilities and wanted to know why the stainless-steel target assemblies aren’t made in-house at the lab instead of being done elsewhere without reliable success. Continue reading

Clyde Hopkins (1929-2014)

clydehopkinsClyde Hopkins, retired president of Lockheed Martin Energy Systems and one of Oak Ridge’s most beloved managers, died Wednesday evening at Methodist Medical Center. He was 85 years old.

Hopkins, a native of Brownsville, Tenn., came to Oak Ridge in 1952 as an accountant with Union Carbide Corp. — which managed all of the government’s Oak Ridge facilities (as well as the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Kentucky) at the time. He rose through the management ranks and held executive positions at the plants, eventually becoming president and overseeing all of them after Martin Marietta (which became Lockheed Martin) took over the contractor role for the Department of Energy. He retired in 1995. Continue reading

CNS spokesman: ‘No current employees will be transferred to Reston’

Y12 gate_MP (2)As posted earlier in the day, Consolidated Nuclear Security — the NNSA’s managing contractor for Y-12 and Pantex — is proceeding with its plan to put design and construction work on the Uranium Processing Facility into the hands of its corporate parent, Bechtel National.

The plan is supposed to bring more of Bechtel’s engineering and construction expertise to the multibillion-dollar project without amping up the management fee or adding to the overall cost of UPF. A spokesman for Consolidated Nuclear Security answered some questions about the change in the works. Continue reading

New DOE pilot program for clean energy includes six national labs (not ORNL)

The Dept. of Energy this week announced a new $2.3 million pilot program — called Lab-Corps — to “accelerate the transfer of innovative clean energy technologies from the DOE’s National Laboratories into the commercial marketplace.” The purpose is to train and empower lab researchers to move their discoveries into “high-impact, real world technologies” in the private sector, DOE said. Continue reading

ORNL’s Bldg. 3019 was water victim

3019Last month’s water hammer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, apparently caused by abnormal conditions in the city of Oak Ridge distribution, burst a number of pipes at the lab, and one of the impacted facilities was Building 3019 — an aged and sensitive nuclear facility that houses the government’s stockpile of uranium-233.

The uranium stocks apparently weren’t affected by the problem, which occurred shortly after midnight on Sept. 17, but a couple of contaminated rooms in the basement of 3019 reportedly received a minor flood from a burst pipe. The result was a couple of inches of standing water in contaminated areas that required a cleanup action by DOE contractor Isotek. Continue reading

Y-12 contractor moving forward with plan to shift UPF work to Bechtel

UPFThe Uranium Processing Facility headquarters is located on Union Valley Road in Oak Ridge.

reillyConsolidated Nuclear Security, the Bechtel-led partnership that manages the Y-12 and Pantex nuclear weapons plants, is moving forward with a plan to shift the design and construction role for the Uranium Processing Facility to its parent company, Bechtel National.

Brian Reilly, the UPF project director for CNS (pictured, left), made the announcement to employees today, and the “migration” was discussed in a meeting at New Hope Center.

The UPF work will be done under a CNS subcontract to Bechtel, but the majority of the work will reportedly continue to be performed in Oak Ridge.

“The migration to BNI promises significant advantages that will help us build the UPF that this nation requires,” Reilly’s message to employees stated. Continue reading

Phophetic or just a cocky moment?


John Schuchardt, one of the original “Plowshares Eight,” stands outside the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge on July 5, 2010.

Two years before the stunning-break-in at Y-12 on July 28, 2012, which turned the government’s nuclear security program upside down, a peace activist — one of the original Plowshares protesters — essentially predicted such an action. Continue reading

Record year for ORNL tech transfer

ornlsignOak Ridge National Laboratory today said Fiscal Year 2014 was a record year for technology transfer, with the lab receiving $3 million in licensing receipts and royalties from the agreements. The fiscal year ended Sept. 30.

ORNL also said tech transfer is on a “strong upward trend,” relying on new methods to improve the federal laboratory’s connections with private industry. A study released earlier this year by the Brookings Institution recommended a number of ways for the Department of Energy’s laboratories to have a greater impact on regional economies. Continue reading

Back when folks wore fancy hats


The war was over, and on Sept. 29, 1945, there was one of multiple luncheons for the presentation of Army-Navy “E” Awards to recognize the production efforts for the World War II Manhattan Project in Oak Ridge. As can be seen in this photo, the folks got dressed up for the occasion. Click on photograph to enlarge. (Department of Energy archives/Ed Westcott)

Emergency exercise at ORAU

Emergency responders from Oak Ridge Associated Universities and the Oak Ridge Police Department will conduct an exercise on Wednesday (Oct. 29) at ORAU’s main campus. Because of that, the ORAU Center for Science Education will be closed to the public from 8 a.m. to noon, the announcement said.