Category Archives: DOE HQ

ORNL part of administration’s beat-cancer program

supercomputingpicOak Ridge National Laboratory is part of the Obama administration’s sweeping program to defeat cancer, joining with other labs and the National Cancer Institute on pilot projects that use supercomputers to analyze data on how cancer develops and to accelerate development of promising therapies.

The Cancer Moonshot program, led by Vice President Joe Biden, hosted a summit Wednesday in Washington, D.C., to draw attention to projects around the country that involve hundreds of researchers, oncologists and technologies of many types. Continue reading

DOE report cites criticality alarm issues at Y-12

Radiation (2)A newly released Department of Energy assessment of the criticality accident alarm system at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant said the operation is “adequately” maintained, but the review team identified two “deficiencies” that raised uncertainty as to whether the system will fully function as planned.

A nuclear criticality accident is an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction with release of dangerous levels of radiation. Such an accident is Y-12’s biggest fear because of the huge volume of fissionable material — highly enriched uranium — that is stored and processed at the Oak Ridge plant. The only criticality accident in Y-12 history occurred June 16, 1958, and eight workers were hospitalized with severe doses of radiation. (Accident scene is pictured, right.)

The new assessment was conducted earlier this year, and it included a review of the alarm components in four Y-12 facilities — Buildings 9212, Beta-2E, 9215 and 9720-5 — that are involved in the handling of enriched uranium. Continue reading

Talking science like it’s 1994

27559145850_2834636c68_kIt was April 29, 1994, and Energy Secretary Hazel O’Leary was taking a tour of Oak Ridge National Laboratory. She’s shown here listening to a presentation at ORNL’s High Temperature Materials Laboratory. O’Leary, who’s holding some research product in her hands, seems to be the only one who’s paying attention — and that may be marginal. From left, KNS reporter Frank Munger, ORNL Director Al Trivelpiece, O’Leary, and U.S. Rep. Marilyn Lloyd. (DOE photo/Lynn Freeny)

Liang accepts leadership role at Pacific Northwest Lab

liang2Liyuan Liang, a celebrated chemist and emerging science administrator at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, has been named director of the Environmental Molecular Sciences Laboratory in Washington state. The lab is a research user facility at the Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

Liang has performed multiple roles at ORNL, including a tenure as director of the lab’s Office of Institutional Planning. She also headed a scientific team that tackled many of the perplexing issues about mercury in the environment — including how mercury is transformed into methylmercury, its most toxic form.

Allison Campbell, an associate director at Pacific Northwest, said in a statement: Continue reading

Saddleworn reporter heading out of Dodge

As I finished up a recent Chinese dinner of chicken with black bean sauce, I cracked open my fortune cookie and glanced at the message inside.

“All things have an end,” it said, fittingly enough as I get ready for retirement at the end of the month.munger1

For the past 35 years, maybe a little more, I’ve covered the Department of Energy and its Oak Ridge operations. It’s a news beat I created at the News Sentinel after serving as state editor and realizing the wealth of news potential at the government facilities.

It’s been a pleasantly bumpy ride these many years, with a lot of highlights and some unusual happenings. I’m kind of proud of some of the things accomplished. Continue reading

DOE’s Small Business Awards

Boston Government Services LLC,  based in Lenoir City, was honored as the Department of Energy’s small and disadvantaged business of the year at the annual awards ceremony held recently in Atlanta. BGS was recogonized for its support of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and other activities.

Other local winners included BES Technologies of Oak Ridge, which was recognized as service-disabled, veteran-owned small business of the year. City-State LLC of Knoxville was honored as HUBZONE small business of the year. Continue reading

Alexander responds to ITER report

alexandersummitU.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, in a statement released by his office Thursday, responded to the Department of Energy’s report that recommends continued U.S. participation in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor. Alexander and Sen. Dianne Feinstein reportedly met with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz on Wednesday to discuss the report’s findings and recommendations.

While he didn’t declare absolute opposition to ITER, Alexander noted there are other big science projects — including a second Target Station at the Spallation Neutron Source at Oak Ridge National Laboratory — that should be given priority over ITER. The Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, which Alexander authored, contains no money for U.S. involvement in ITER for FY 2017. There is still a chance that money for ITER could be included during Senate and House conference on the energy and water appropriations.

Here’s the Alexander statement: Continue reading

Moniz recommends U.S. stick with ITER

iterusEnergy Secretary Ernest Moniz today released an assessment report of the U.S. participation in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor, and he recommends that the U.S. continue its role in the project has struggled with schedules and costs. Moniz cited recent improvements on several fronts at the project, which is under construction at Cadarache, France, but also acknowledged the ongoing issues that must be addressed and reevaluated a couple of years down the road.

The U.S. involvement in ITER is based at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Continue reading

Senate passes Energy & Water Appropriations Bill

The Senate earlier today passed the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill for FY 2017, which would provide a big boost in funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and would provide $575 million for continued development of the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., a primary architect of the bill, said in a statement: Continue reading