Category Archives: HEUMF

A look at Y-12’s uranium storehouse

Photograph HEUMF razor wire.Y-12 photo

The Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility is a massive structure on the west side of the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, and it may very well house the world’s largest inventory of bomb-grade uranium at a single location.

That’s not clear because the actual amount of uranium in storage is classified. Plus, it’s constantly changing as nuclear weapons are retired from the arsenal and the enriched uranium is recycled for use in other weapons or reserved as fuel for the nation’s fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. Continue reading

HEU from Japan arrives at Y-12

The National Nuclear Security Administration today announced that highly enriched uranium from Japan’s Fast Critical Assembly reactor has arrived at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, where it reportedly will be placed in secure storage and later processed and down-blended to create low-enriched uranium.

“Any use of the enriched uranium or its byproducts shall be subject to all terms of the Agreement for Cooperation and any bilateral agreements between the governments of Japan  and the United States,” the NNSA release stated. Continue reading

DOE review finds deficiencies in safety-systems management at Y-12’s uranium storehouse

The Department of Energy’s Office of Enterprise Assessment last month completed a “targeted review” of safety systems management at the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility — which houses the nation’s largest stockpile of bomb-grade uranium — at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant. The safety systems would be important in the event of a fire and possible dispersion of nuclear materials.heumfnight-thumb-400x266-14560.jpg

The DOE team had some good things to say, noting that Consolidated Nuclear Security — the government’s managing contractor — is operating and maintaining the storage facility’s “safety significant” Secondary Confinement System and the safety significant Power Distribution System in accordance with the documented safety analysis and technical safety requirements. “For the most part, systems are acceptably maintained and capable of performing their safety functions when needed,” the report’s executive summary stated.

However, the DOE team also identified a number of “significant deficiencies” during their review. Continue reading

Micro critters at the uranium storehouse

heumf3-thumb-620x414-4620.jpgEarlier this year, there were a number of reports via the staff of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Board about some corrosion in parts of the fire protection system for Y-12’s main storehouse for bomb-grade uranium. Lab tests confirmed that the samples from the jockey pump for the water distribution system and some associated piping had “microbiologically-influenced corrosion.” Although these components were not a direct part of the safety basis for the Highly Enriched Uranium Material Facility’s fire-protection system, the situation attracted some ongoing interest from the safety board staff and the Y-12 contractor, Consolidate Nuclear Security. Continue reading

Resentencing of Y-12 protesters will be done by phone


Plowshares protesters, from left, Greg Boertje-Obed, Sister Megan Rice, and Michael Walli, in November 2012. (KNS photo/Saul Young)

U.S. District Judge Amul Thapar will hold a resentencing hearing for the three Transform Now Plowshares — Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed — via telephone. The hearing is set for 10 a.m. on Sept. 15.

Bill Quigley, a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans and a member of the defense team, confirmed the arrangements in an email to supporters of the three. Rice, Walli and Boertje-Obed were released from prison in May after the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned their conviction on sabotage charges for the July 28, 2012 break-in at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge. They face resentencing on other charges for damaging government property, but the three have reportedly already served more time than recommended for those convictions. Continue reading

Adding options for canning HEU may save $30M

heuConsolidated Nuclear Security, the government’s managing contractor at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, released some additional information this week about the canning operations that have been introduced at Beta-2E (known mostly for its work in assembling and dismantling warhead parts).

In an earlier post, based on a report by staff of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, I indicated that the canning operations had been moved from the aged 9212 uranium complex at Y-12 to Beta-2E. CNS clarified that by noting that the Beta-2E work will be in addition to the work at 9212 — with canning operations continuing there. Continue reading