Category Archives: ORO

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

Deputy manager

IMG_0911As noted in an earlier post, Kenneth Tarcza has been named manager of the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office. His appointment was effective May 3.

The role of deputy manager is still open, filled on an acting basis by John Shewairy (pictured, left) since last October. Shewairy said he expects the position to be advertised soon — probably within the next couple of weeks.

Tarcza named manager of DOE’s Oak Ridge Office

16-096-9508Kenneth R. Tarcza, former chief of staff for the U.S. Army Research Development and Engineering Command, has been named manager of the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office. As part of that role, he will oversee the Integrated Support Center, which provides services to multiple national laboratories and Office of Science sites.

His appointment was announced Monday by the DOE’s Office of Science. Don Thress has been acting in the position since Kevin Hall departed last year.

Tarcza retired from the Army in 2015 as a colonel. Among his career roles, he served with the U.S. Army Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland. Continue reading

Amy Rothrock, FOIA officer at DOE, retires

Amy RothrockAmy L. Rothrock, the Freedom of Information Act and Privacy Act officer with the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office, has retired after more than 20 years at the DOE field office.

Rothrock, a native of Seattle, Wash., began her career at DOE’s Oak Ridge office in 1994, overseeing the response to 800 to 1,500 FOIA requests annually. Before joining the DOE field office, she worked at DOE’s Office of Scientific and Technical Information as a management analyst.

In a statement, DOE Chief Counsel Don Thress said, “The consummate professional, Amy approached challenges inventively. Amy’s innovation enhanced the speed and substance of DOE’s responses to FOIA and Privacy Act requests.  Her influence was felt not only locally, but also nationally as she and her staff’s efforts encompassed requests made at numerous other DOE sites nationwide.” Continue reading

Oak Ridge council to vote on DOE contract extension

water treatment plantUndated photo shows the Oak Ridge Water Treatment Plant on Pine Ridge adjacent to the Y-12 National Security Complex. (Y-12 photo)

Oak Ridge City Council will hold a special called meeting late this afternoon to vote on a proposed one-year extension of the city’s agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy to provide water to the Y-12 National Security Complex and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The city took over the former DOE water plant 15 years ago and provides potable water to the two federal facilities, in addition to the local community.

The aged facility is in need of repairs, and Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson said a contract extension will give the city more time to consider whether to build a new facility or engage in long-term and extensive repairs. Regardless, the existing facility on Pine Ridge near Y-12 will need some repairs in the next few years, he said. Continue reading

DOE’s secluded site has unusual history

IMG_5422The entrance to the Department of Energy’s Tower Shielding Reactor site off Highway 95 has lots of warning signs. (KNS photo/Frank Munger)

Atop Copper Ridge near the southwest border of the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge reservation is a remote site that’s been used for a series of unusual — and sometimes secret — projects over the past 60 years.503971-001

Most recently, Oak Ridge National Laboratory used the ridge-top location for a project that’s associated with government efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and special nuclear materials. However, the Department of Energy will not provide details because the “non-proliferation-related” research is classified.

DOE declined a request to visit the site, and the entrance gate off Highway 95 is locked and barricaded, with lots of signs warning would-be trespassers.

The site is best known for its 1950s role in a government program to develop nuclear-powered airplanes. Two-hundred-foot towers were constructed at the ridge-top facility, and a small nuclear reactor was hoisted high into the air to allow radiation measurements and to evaluate the effectiveness of cockpit shielding for the pilot and crew. (Archived photo, above right, shows the tower operation in 1960.) Continue reading

ORNL’s Sabau and Wagner honored

Adrian_Sabau200Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers Adrian Sabau, pictured left, and Robert Wagner have been appointed fellows of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers. The honor recognizes their long-term engineering achievements.Robert_Wagner200

According to information released by ORNL, Sabau was honored for his “significant accomplishments in advancing materials processing and materials development for energy applications based on integrated computational materials science and engineering.”

Sabu is a senior research staff member in the lab’s Materials Science and Technology Division. Continue reading

Cedar Springs Homeschool wins Science Bowl

Cedar Springs Homeschool won the 2016 Tennessee Science Bowl over the weekend and will represent the state at the National Science Bowl in Washington, D.C., April 28-May 2. In addition to the expenses-paid trip to the nation’s capital, the team also won a trophy and $1,000.

A team from Lausanne Collegiate School, which won the event in 2015, finished second. A team from Oak Ridge High School was third, followed by Brentwood High School. Continue reading