Fleischmann says fiscal pressures are UPF concern

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U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, left, talks with reporters at a Uranium Processing Facility ceremony on Friday, March 13, at Y-12. He’s joined by NNSA Administrator Frank G. Klotz, center, and UPF Project Director Brian Reilly, right.

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., is a supporter of the Uranium Processing Facility — unabashedly so. In fact, he’s a big supporter of Y-12 operations at general.

“The Uranium Processing Facility is an example of how we can come together as Americans and get things done,” Fleischmann said last Friday during a milestone celebration for the multibillion-dollar UPF project that’s to be constructed in Oak Ridge.

“It’s so important, ladies and gentlemen, that we articulate this message throughout Congress, the administration,” the Third District Republican said. “The American people need to know what we do here. Oak Ridge for years was known as the Secret City. We know the great historical mission that happened here. Well, as long as I’m in the House, it’s not going to be the Secret City. If anyone will listen to me — and they have to — I tell them about the great things that we’re doing here today and what we’re going to do in the future.”

After the celebratory event, I asked Fleischmann about his concerns regarding the Uranium Processing Facility.

“We are in very difficult fiscal times,” the congressman said. “As we see pressures, either for Sequestration or just the normal course of events that are going to affect the discretionary side of the budget in the future, my concern and avocation will be to continue to work to fully fund the Uranium Processing Facility. I think it’s going to be very important, as you look at the funding profile, that we continue to work hard to make sure that members of Congress understand the importance of funding this.”

I asked Fleischmann if he thought the Obama administration’s proposed spending level of $430 million for UPF in FY 2016 was appropriate. He said he had spoken with the UPF folks in Oak Ridge, adding, “They feel that funding for this year and next year is appropriate as we ramp up and move toward the highest years (with funding of $500 million-plus) that we need to make sure that the resources are there to fund this.”

Fleischmann said UPF is on a completely different approach from the original strategy, and he said the new approach “has  been universally well accepted.”

He said, “It’s going to save money, it’s going to bring it in on budget, and, more importantly, on time.”

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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.