Category Archives: Y-12

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

Klotz to visit Y-12 later this week


NNSA Administrator Frank G. Klotz will reportedly pay a visit to the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant later this week, arriving Thursday in time for an all-hands meeting and then engaging in unspecified activities on Friday. No word on any special reasons for the visit. Klotz, a retired Air Force lieutenant general who served as commander of the Global Strike Command, was confirmed as head of the National Nuclear Security Administration in April 2014. (Munger photo)

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

State posts fish advisory on Bear Creek

Decades after discharges from the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant polluted local waterways, the state has decided to post a do-not-eat-the-fish advisory on Bear Creek because of increasing public access to a lower stretch of the creek.

“Eating fish with elevated levels of mercury and PCBs is a risk Tennesseans can avoid,” Tisha Calabrese-Benton of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation said in a statement released by the state agency. Continue reading

Y-12 inventors

y12security2It’s not always easy to commercialize technologies out of a nuclear weapons plant, but Y-12 gives it a good effort.

As part of that effort, Y-12 recently hosted its annual Technology Transfer Awards ceremony and recognized those employees whose ideas have had an impact at the Oak Ridge plant and beyond. Continue reading

Y-12 wins six Sustainability Awards

WETFThe Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge recently won six of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Sustainability Awards. The awards recognize individuals and teams on projects that help conserve resources, reduce discharges or otherwise protect the environment. One of the honors was received for innovative operations at the Waste End Treatment Facility. The project allowed processing of 718,000 gallons of production wastewater and eliminated the generation of about 14,000 gallons of low-level radioactive sludge and the need for about 200 gallons of sulfuric acid, 4,000 gallons of ferric sulfate, 3,200 gallons of sodium hydroxide, and 4 gallons of polymer as treatment chemicals. The overall effort reduced sludge generation by about 130.5 metric tons. The West End Treatment Facility is pictured above. For a complete rundown on the Sustainability Awards, check out Y-12’s website.

CNS’ fixed fee

Of the total fee of about $42,6 million paid to Consolidated Nuclear Security for the first 15 months on the job at Y-12 and Pantex, about $31.2 million was fixed fee. That’s because the first year of the management contract was done under fixed fee, with only the award for the final three months of Fiscal Year 2015 (July-September) based on performance.Basic RGB

CNS took over management of the Y-12 and Pantex nuclear weapons plants on July 1, 2014, so the first three months of the contract were part of FY 2014. It’s a little confusing, but here is a statement about the Performance Evaluation Report (PER) provided by Steven Wyatt, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Production Office: Continue reading

Y-12 retirees lawsuit moving forward

y12signA federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit that was filed last year on behalf of Y-12 retirees, who claimed that Consolidated Nuclear Security — the government’s managing contractor at the nuclear weapons plant — misled employees and failed to live up to promises made by CNS and previous contractors about enduring health care benefits for retirees.

The lawsuit was filed last summer in U.S. District Court in Knoxville on behalf of retirees Betty Hatmaker and Charlene Edwards. CNS later filed a motion to have the suit dismissed.

U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Varlan last week issued a memorandum opinion and order that granted a part of the defendant’s motion to dismiss but refused to dismiss the lawsuit entirely. Continue reading

Y-12/Pantex contractor cites improvements that followed performance review

y12overviewConsolidated Nuclear Security — the government’s managing contractor at the Y-12 and Pantex nuclear weapons plants — today released a statement that said CNS had made a number of significant changes following the National Nuclear Security Administration’s review of its performance in Fiscal Year 2015. As noted earlier, the contractor received a performance score of 57 out of 100.

CNS emphasized that the evaluation period included “an unprecedented transition” of two NNSA sites, “as well as several unexpected challenges as we sought to implement the requirements of the new contract.”

Here’s the statement: Continue reading