Category Archives: nuclear

Smith named North Wind communications chief

annesmithAnne Smith, who previously held public affairs roles with Safety and Ecology Corp., Perma-Fix Environmental and URS/CH2M Oak Ridge, has been named the communications chief at North Wind Group.

North Wind is a small business on the rise, recently taking over management of the Department of Energy’s Transuranic Waste Processing Center in Oak Ridge. The company is based in Idaho Falls. Smith will be located in the company’s Knoxville office. Continue reading

DelCul wins Seaborg Award

delcul Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Bill DelCul has received the Glenn T. Seaborg Award at the 40th Actinide Separations Conference.

He was honored for his long and extraordinary career in nuclear science and engineering with research on “actinide separations, processing of used nuclear fuel, high temperature molten salts, technical support of enrichment activities and national security-related research.” 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

Revamping facilities is key to Y-12’s uranium future

beta2e-thumb-619x629-19813.jpgThe Beta-2E facility is located in the foreground of this view of the main production complex at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant. Building 9215 is to the left of Beta-2E. The government’s revised strategy for the Uranium Processing Facility depends not only on construction of a cluster of new facilities to process bomb-grade uranium but also leans heavily on extending the life of some existing production buildings — notably 9215 and Beta-2E. (Y-12 photo)

The future of the uranium mission at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant depends partly on extending of life of two production facilities — Beta-2E and Building 9215 — that are already 46 and 59 years old respectively.

The strategy will require innovative ways to rebuild electrical systems and others parts of the plant’s aged infrastructure, as well as a pervasive focus on worker safety and a steady stream of federal funding for the next 20 years.

Details of the plan are contained in a government report on Y-12’s “Life Extension Program,” which was obtained by the News Sentinel under a Freedom of Information Act request. 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

Emergency drill at Y-12 on Wednesday

y12security2An emergency management exercise will be held Wednesday (June 8) at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, and the public is alerted that some off-site activities — such as environmental sampling — are part of the drill.

The exercise will involve personnel from the National Nuclear Security Administration and Consolidated Nuclear Security — the government’s managing contractor at Y-12 — as well as emergency responders from federal, state and local entities. Continue reading

Dangling warhead part

Working with nuclear weapons is a very precise business, but there are times when things don’t go exactly as planned.beta2e2

That seemed to be the case in an incident at the Beta-2E assembly/disassembly center at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant that was included in an April 15 report by staff of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.

According to that report, workers encountered a situation where an overhead crane “continued to lower a component after the worker operating the crane had released the ‘down’ pushbutton.” Continue reading

EnergySolutions decision may derail Secret City rail trips

railIt looks like the Secret City Excursion Train, an Oak Ridge tourist attraction, may be derailed.

The owner of the rail line — Utah-based EnergySolutions — said Thursday it will no longer allow passenger traffic because of liability concerns. The change is effective May 31.

For the past seven years, EnergySolutions has allowed the Southern Appalachian Railroad Museum, a nonprofit entity that sponsors the Secret City Excursions, to use the Heritage Railroad short line at no cost. Continue reading

K-27 demolition moves ahead furiously; preparations underway for other Cold War facilities

Poplar Creek MapAerial view with some of the Poplar Creek Facilities in the foreground. Below is recent photo of K-27 demolition. (DOE/Lynn Freeny)

The post-Cold War cleanup is proceeding at a furious pace at an Oak Ridge site once home to the nation’s largest uranium-enrichment complex.26504269220_6547c787a4_k

With K-27, the last of five gaseous diffusion plants, coming down quicker than expected and likely to be demolished before the year-end target date, the U.S. Department of Energy has started making preparations to tear down a bunch of other old buildings that once supported the nuclear program.

URS-CH2M Oak Ridge, DOE’s cleanup manager, has taken advantage of favorable weather conditions to accelerate the demolition of K-27, which ceased operations in 1964. The four-story, 383,000-square foot building is highly contaminated and equally deteriorated. Continue reading

Centrus names Cutlip VP for field ops

Centrus Energy Corp. has named Larry B. Cutlip as vice president for field operations, effective May 23. He will oversee the company’s activities in Oak Ridge, Ohio and Kentucky. Cutlip will assume the duties of Steven Penrod, vice president for American Centrifuge, who’s leaving the company at the end of June. Cutlip will also retain his role as president of American Centrifuge Manufacturing, a wholly owned subsidiary. He’ll be based in Oak Ridge, where the centrifuge research activities are taking place.

Here’s a statement from Centrus President Dan Poneman: Continue reading