Y-12 completes $10M upgrade at chemistry labs

661318A $10 million upgrade to the analytical chemistry facility at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant has been completed on time and within its budget, according to a Thursday announcement by the National Nuclear Security Administration.

Y-12’s analytical facility, also known as Building 9995, was built in 1957, and the year-long upgrade was authorized to improve the capabilities and reliability of the chemistry work.

The chemistry labs play an important role in the Oak Ridge plant’s work on nuclear weapons.

“Y-12 scientists working in Building 9995 analyze impurity levels to ensure the materials destined for nuclear weapons components or naval reactor fuel are of suitably high quality,” the NNSA said. “They also analyze soil and groundwater samples for hazardous contaminants and characterize the site’s waste output to ensure regulatory compliance.”

Ellen Boatner, a spokesman for contractor Consolidated Nuclear Security, said some of the money for the upgrades was made available by deferring activities and using cost savings from projects that were completed under budget.

The NNSA news release said the project included upgrades to the building’s critical heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems. There also were electrical improvements and replacement of old “radiochemistry hoods.”

Tim Driscoll, the National Nuclear Security Administration’s uranium program manager, reportedly authorized $5 million for the project, and he lauded the results.

“These successful efforts in Building 9995 are a great example of  how NNSA and CNS are working together to effectively address near-term needs in our aging Y-12 facilities,” Driscoll said in a statement.

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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.