Tag Archives: DOE

Millions spent patching Oak Ridge Y-12 building scheduled for demolition

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (AP) — The federal government is spending millions of dollars to patch up a former production facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge that is intended for demolition.

The Knoxville News Sentinel reports (http://bit.ly/1GU06iL) the government has spent about $24 million over the past seven years for work that included repairs on two of Alpha-5’s seven roofs and removal of all materials at risk of causing explosions. And there is still more that needs to be done.

The repairs are necessary to mitigate some of the hazards the 530,000-square-foot facility poses to workers and the environment. Despite those hazards, there is no timetable for demolition.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office have cited Alpha-5 in separate reports as a prime example of the government’s sluggish system for cleaning up no-longer-needed nuclear operations.

One of the criticisms of the recent GAO report was that the Department of Energy’s environmental management organization — which oversees the cleanup of the old facilities — doesn’t always consider risks when deciding which buildings to demolish first.

There are dozens of old facilities at Y-12 and other sites awaiting demolition. Many of the sites won’t be accepted by the cleanup program until the 2030s because of funding and other uncertainties, the GAO stated.

The GAO report cited National Nuclear Security Administration documents that show Alpha-5 has degraded so much “that site officials now detect contaminants, such as mercury, in areas where they were not detected two years earlier, and additional funds are needed to repair its failing roof.”

Steven Wyatt, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration, said in an email that the agency is continuing to monitor Alpha-5 and will take needed steps to reduce risks.

“The permanent solution, however, is decontamination and decommissioning of this facility,” he wrote.

Doe Mountain Deal Done

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and the Nature Conservancy say they expect an $8.8 million purchase of undeveloped property in Johnson County to be a boost to tourism and create jobs.
The state and the conservation organization announced Thursday that they have acquired the 8,600-acre Doe Mountain, just southwest of Mountain City.
Doe Mountain, which contains miles of existing roads and trails, is one of the largest remaining blocks of forest in private ownership in the Southern Blue Ridge region. It will be open to the public.
“Doe Mountain offers a great opportunity for outdoor recreation and the benefits that come with opening up space for people to enjoy, such as healthier communities and new jobs from tourism,” Haslam said in a news release. “I’m pleased we as a state could contribute to this lasting legacy for all Tennesseans.”
Gina Hancock, director of the Tennessee chapter of the Nature Conservancy, told The Associated Press that the property is a failed development project that fell into bankruptcy about five years ago.
She said her organization has been working with the state for about a year to acquire the property, which she expects to help tourism regionally.
“The goal is to … work with North Carolina and Virginia on kind of having a triangle for visitation,” Hancock said.
Portions of Doe Mountain are expected to allow outdoor recreation such as mountain biking, horseback riding and scenic touring by all-terrain vehicles, officials said.

House Held a Ramsey Bill Hostage in Legislature’s Last Days

In the final days of the session, it’s not Republican vs. Democrat; it’s House vs. Senate, goes an old adage at the Tennessee Capitol. Chas Sisk reports the expression refers to the last-minute squabbling between the two chambers over which issues to work out and which to kick to the curb before heading home for the year.
In this year’s battle, the House has given itself a little edge: It has a project favored by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey hostage.
The House moved Friday to delay a vote creating an ATV park on Johnson County’s Doe Mountain until this week. Ramsey has been the legislature’s most visible champion of the project, taking Gov. Bill Haslam 4-wheelin’ there back in December and ensuring that funding for the project was included in next year’s budget.
The House took Doe Mountain hostage right after the Senate proposed de-funding $20 million worth of projects during a budget tiff over earmark spending. The two chambers seemed to resolve that dispute in conference committee late Friday, but the House isn’t likely to release Doe Mountain until leaders are certain the Senate won’t cut out while some of its favored legislation is still on the table.
Ramsey took the maneuver with good humor Friday, expressing little concern over the mountain’s safety.
“That’s part of the games you play at the end of session,” he said. “That was rolled to the end just to get my attention, no doubt about that.”

Ramsey Brings Home the Bacon to Northeast Tennessee

Blountville Republican Ron Ramsey said he couldn’t pull the trigger on targeting funding for major regional projects when he first became Tennessee’s lieutenant governor in 2007, according to the Kingsport Times-News.
“I wasn’t about to ask for things in my area when we were cutting in other areas, but state revenues have turned around some. … When that came, I thought it was fair we get some projects on this end of the state,” Ramsey said Wednesday.
His fingerprints were all over two major economic development projects included in the $31.5 billion budget passed this week by the GOP-controlled legislature. Ramsey steered a $500,000 state appropriation toward a planned multimillion-dollar Bristol Cultural Heritage Center just across State Street in Bristol, Va., and an $8.8 million appropriation to acquire Doe Mountain in Johnson County.
That Doe Mountain appropriation, plus a legislature-approved bill to create a governing authority for the property, is expected to lead to development of a multi-use park for all-terrain vehicles, bike riding and hiking.
“This is the biggest thing that has happened to Johnson County in a long time,” Ramsey said. “Not only will it promote their natural beauty, it will be a huge economic boon to them. We’ve studied what other places have done for ATV parks and bike paths and walking paths. When we get this structure put together, it will provide a lot of jobs for Johnson County.”

State Purchase of Doe Mountain for $8.5 Million in the Works

Financial and legislative pieces are coming together for the state of Tennessee and The Nature Conservancy to buy and develop Johnson County’s Doe Mountain into a multi-use tourist attraction for all-terrain vehicles, biking, horseback riding and hiking.
Continuing a report by Hank Hayes::
“It’s looking good. … We should know something within a month or so where we are on this. … I’m trying to keep it low key … (but) I think everything will be fine,” Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, R-Blountville, said of the venture.
Last December, Ramsey said the Doe Mountain venture could have a similar economic impact as Southwest Virginia’s 34-mile Virginia Creeper Trail, which is open to hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. He envisioned spin-off businesses like campgrounds, restaurants and bike shops.
The 8,600-acre Doe Mountain property was a planned residential development that fell through, according to Ramsey.
Gov. Bill Haslam’s administration has set aside $8.5 million in the state’s current budget, plus $300,000 in a supplemental appropriation to pay for the property, according to administration spokesman Dave Smith.
Smith noted the Doe Mountain acquisition is on the State Building Commission Executive Subcommittee’s agenda on Monday.
The Nature Conservancy State Director Gina Hancock said the plan is for The Nature Conservancy to buy the property and “hold it until the state buys it from us.”
The Tennessee Senate, meanwhile, has passed amended legislation creating a Doe Mountain Recreation Authority to manage the property.

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Ramsey Pushes State Purchase of 8,600 Acres for ATV, Hiking Park

Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey says Tennessee’s state government is considering buying an 8,600-acre tract in Johnson County with hopes of developing a “multi-use park for tourism purposes, according to Hank Hayes.
The property, located on Doe Mountain, was a planned residential community that fell through after the developer passed away, Ramsey said.
“They are in bankruptcy now, and we are working with The Nature Conservancy and others to help purchase the property and develop it for ATVs (all-terrain vehicles), mountain biking and hiking,” Ramsey, R-Blountville, said of the venture. “We have to see what we can do to take advantage of Mountain City’s (the county seat of Johnson County) natural beauty, and I think this is something that can happen. … I do believe this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
….Ramsey said the property has been appraised at $17 million but could go for about $8.5 million.

Haslam Talks Money, Waste Cleanup with DOE Officials

OAK RIDGE – It was a briefing, not a negotiation, but there was plenty of give and take Wednesday when Gov. Bill Haslam and members of his administration met with federal officials in Oak Ridge to discuss budgets, cleanup and other issues that could become contentious in the months and years ahead.
More from Frank Munger’s report:
Following the meeting at Y-12’s New Hope Center, Haslam said he wants the state to have a good working relationship with the Department of Energy – one that doesn’t involve disputes and court battles. But, he emphasized, members of his administration don’t want that good will used against them.
He noted that Oak Ridge hasn’t fared as well as other DOE sites around the country when it comes to funding for cleanup projects, which are important for the environment and the economy.
The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation has raised that issue for years; yet this year’s spending on Oak Ridge cleanup dropped precipitously to about $400 million – the lowest in years.
John Eschenberg, DOE’s cleanup chief in Oak Ridge, agreed that the Oak Ridge share of the total cleanup funding was not what it should be percentage wise. Oak Ridge currently is getting a little more than 6 percent of DOE’s cleanup budget of $5.6 billion, he said.