Uranium Processing Facility team signs partnering agreement

UPF Partnering Agreement

The Uranium Processing Facility Project Office and Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC signed a partnering agreement to move forward on delivering the UPF mission. Shown in the photo are, front row, left to right: Bill Priest, CNS; John Eschenberg, UPO; Brian Reilly, CNS; and Dale Christenson, UPO; and back row, left to right: Joe Brown, CNS; Brant Morowski, CNS; Mike Pratt, CNS; Jim Sowers, CNS; Matt Crookshanks, CNS; John Clayton, UPO; Art Haugh, UPO; Laurie Folden, UPO; and Steve Wellbaum, UPO. (Submitted photo)

 

Officials from the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Uranium Processing Facility Project Office and Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC recently signed a partnering agreement to create a cohesive and effective team united in accomplishment of the Uranium Processing Facility mission.

“The UPF partnering agreement is an important step to ensure our team carries out its mission to deliver a new UPF, a key infrastructure investment for our country, with Building 9212 capabilities, for not more than $6.5 billion by 2025,” said UPF Federal Project Director John Eschenberg.

The agreement also emphasizes a collaborative approach to problem-solving and issue resolution focused on early identification and rapid communication. [Read more...]

Guest column: B&W Y-12 improved Y-12, made a big difference in the community

David Bradshaw

David Bradshaw

By David Bradshaw

It has been almost 14 years since B&W Y-12 LLC took over operation of the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.

Soon a new contractor will be in charge. Thanks to the work of the B&W Y-12 team and many others, they will inherit a very different and much improved facility.

One only needs to approach Y-12 to see the changes. The first thing you will see is the New Hope Center, built as a public-private partnership and located just outside the secure gates of Y-12 to make sure public access is easy. It has conference space, an outstanding auditorium, and a museum that highlights everything from Y-12’s critical role in the Manhattan Project, to the NASA “moon box” built by Y-12, to Y-12’s role in winning the Cold War. Y-12 had always been a secret place and this space built with the public in mind was a major change.

The modernization process is even more obvious inside the gate. Y-12 completed and opened the new Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility. It’s a state of the art building. The new Uranium Processing Facility will be just as impressive with design work well underway. Both facilities allow the U.S. Department of Energy to close down old buildings that date back to the Manhattan Project. With the HEUMF and UPF in place, Y-12 will be far more efficient with operations not only more secure, but centralized in one place instead of being spread out over several locations. [Read more...]

House Appropriations’ energy, water bill fully funds UPF

U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann

Chuck Fleischmann

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday passed an appropriations bill that fully funds the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann said.

Fleischmann released this statement after passage of the Fiscal Year 2015 Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill:

“First and foremost, I am pleased to announce that this bill will effectively appropriate taxpayer dollars as well as provide strong oversight. The Energy and Water bill will strengthen our national defense and fund essential infrastructure projects while also setting federal spending levels. It fully funds the Uranium Processing Facility, a crucial component of our country’s nuclear security that will be built at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. [Read more...]

New UPF project director replaces Strock, who is retiring

Brian Reilly

Brian Reilly

Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC announced last week that Brian Reilly will become project director for the Uranium Processing Facility.

CNS is the new contractor that will manage and operate the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge and Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, starting this summer.

A press release said Reilly has 34 years of commercial nuclear engineering, procurement, and construction leadership and project management experience. A Bechtel senior vice president, Reilly managed Bechtel’s global nuclear operations for six years and has led numerous nuclear projects from conceptual studies and design through all aspects of engineering, procurement, and construction. [Read more...]

Splitting UPF project into two buildings could save money, senator says

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander

Lamar Alexander

Money could be saved on the new Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex by splitting up the project into two buildings rather than one, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander said during a congressional hearing in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday.

One building could be used for high-security work, Alexander said during a hearing of the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee. That high-security building would cost several times as much as a second building used for low-security work, Alexander said.

Not all of the work has to be conducted in a high-security facility, the Tennessee Republican said, and some of it could be conducted in the low-security building.

It wasn’t immediately clear if the two-building proposal is included in a so-called Red Team Review of the UPF project. That report could be made public this week. Federal officials and members of Congress have already been briefed on it. [Read more...]

Mason to brief feds on UPF alternatives report today

Ernest Moniz, Lamar Alexander, Thom Mason, Joe DiPietro, Jimmy Cheek at University of Tennessee

From left are UT President Joe DiPietro, Chancellor Jimmy Cheek, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, and ORNL Director Thom Mason.

Note: This story was last updated at 2:30 p.m.

KNOXVILLE—Federal officials have expressed concerns about increasing cost projections and delayed construction dates for a new Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex, and a so-called Red Team has drafted an alternative approach that could keep the project at $6.5 billion or less—and help workers get out of the aging Building 9212 at Y-12 by 2025.

Thom Mason, the director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, chaired the Red Team, and he is expected to brief federal officials in Washington, D.C., today (Monday) on the team’s report. The report will then go to Congress, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a media briefing at the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center at the University of Tennessee on Friday.

Among the questions that could be answered are which old production buildings at Y-12 should be replaced and which can be refurbished. Y-12 was built to enrich uranium as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project during World War II as the United States raced to beat Germany to build the world’s first atomic weapons. [Read more...]

Guest column: Baughn’s budget recommendations to city manager

Trina Baughn

Trina Baughn

The following are my 2015 budget recommendations to the city manager:

Mr. Watson,

I commend you for your willingness to reduce spending in your formulation of the Fiscal Year 2015 city budget. This approach is essential to making Oak Ridge more attractive to prospective residents and businesses.

As you know, Oak Ridge has the third highest city/county property tax rate in East Tennessee at $4.74. What you may not realize is this year, the city of Knoxville dropped below us in these rankings with a combined city/county rate of $4.71 while the majority of Knox Countians still pay less than half of our rate at $2.32.

In response to your request for council suggestions, I encourage you to set a very obtainable goal. That is, reduce our total budget by .05 percent ($90,000) and return those monies to the taxpayers in the amount of a one-cent tax rate reduction. The following are my suggestions for accomplishing this goal. [Read more...]

Review team develops UPF alternative, sends report to NNSA

Thom Mason

Thom Mason

The projected cost had passed $10 billion and the completion date pushed back to 2038, so federal officials were looking for an alternative approach for the proposed Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex.

Earlier this year, the National Nuclear Security Administration asked Thom Mason, Oak Ridge National Laboratory director, to lead a team—a so-called “Red Team”—that would develop an alternative approach.

The team’s task was to find a faster, more efficient solution, NNSA Acting Administrator Bruce Held told a House subcommittee on April 3.

On Tuesday, the deadline for submitting a report, Mason said the team has identified a possible alternative and provided information on how the proposal could be implemented if the NNSA adopts it. The next step will be up to the NNSA. Y-12 is an NNSA site.

The goal is to still allow workers to get out of Y-12’s aging Building 9212 by 2025 and keep the cost within an approved range of $4.2 billion to $6.5 billion, Mason said late Tuesday afternoon, when the report was being polished before transmittal. [Read more...]

Alexander: Red Team Review of UPF could be model for other DOE projects

Uranium Processing Facility

Pictured above is the proposed Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12 National Security Complex, with the administrative area in the front and the fortified section of the building in the rear. (Submitted image)

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander on Wednesday called for a special Senate hearing on whether an ongoing review of the Uranium Processing Facility in Oak Ridge could serve as a model to improve oversight of U.S. Department of Energy projects, a press release said.

In a hearing held by the Appropriations Subcommittee for Energy and Water Development, of which he is the lead Republican, Alexander noted that Thom Mason, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory, is currently conducting a “Red Team” review of UPF. Mason’s Red Team members are using the same process that has made the Office of Science the only office in DOE that successfully manages efficient and cost-effective projects, said Alexander, a Tennessee Republican. [Read more...]

Safety forum to focus on UPF nuclear safety culture

The Oak Ridge Business Safety Partnership will have its first community safety forum of 2014 from 8-10 a.m. April 2 at the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge. The topic will be “Nuclear Safety Culture of the Uranium Processing Facility.”

The agenda includes an overview of the UPF project by Federal Project Director John Eschenberg; a presentation about the project’s nuclear safety culture by Project Director Carl Strock; and a presentation on how the project successfully manages its nuclear safety culture by UPF Acting Manager for Environment, Safety, and Health Gary Hagan and ORAU Senior Scientist Jeff Miller.

The ORBSP was formed in 2004 to help companies working on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Reservation understand the DOE safety culture, to enhance communication among them, to share lessons learned about safety issues, and to share ideas about effective safety programs with commercial companies. [Read more...]

Safety forum to focus on UPF nuclear safety culture

Uranium Processing Facility

Pictured above is the proposed Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12 National Security Complex, with the administrative area in the front and the fortified section of the building in the rear. (Submitted image)

The Oak Ridge Business Safety Partnership will have its first community safety forum of 2014 from 8-10 a.m. April 2 at the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge. The topic will be “Nuclear Safety Culture of the Uranium Processing Facility.”

The agenda includes an overview of the UPF project by Federal Project Director John Eschenberg; a presentation about the project’s nuclear safety culture by Project Director Carl Strock; and a presentation on how the project successfully manages its nuclear safety culture by UPF Acting Manager for Environment, Safety, and Health Gary Hagan and ORAU Senior Scientist Jeff Miller.

The ORBSP was formed in 2004 to help companies working on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Reservation understand the DOE safety culture, to enhance communication among them, to share lessons learned about safety issues, and to share ideas about effective safety programs with commercial companies. [Read more...]

School Board, City Council resolve high school debt dispute

Oak Ridge City Council and Board of Education

A proposal to resolve a dispute over sales tax revenues and high school debt appeared to have majority support during a non-voting joint work session of Oak Ridge City Council and Board of Education on Friday.

Despite opposition from a few residents and municipal officials, the Oak Ridge City Council and Board of Education have resolved a dispute over Anderson County sales tax revenues and debt payments for the $66 million renovation of Oak Ridge High School.

The dispute, which started several years ago, centered on how to use the Oak Ridge school system’s portion of Anderson County sales tax revenues generated by a tax increase approved by county voters in a 2006 referendum. School officials had argued that they could keep their share of the revenues generated in the county outside of Oak Ridge, while city officials had said all the revenues, whether collected inside the city or outside of it, should be used for high school debt payments.

A resolution unanimously approved by the school board in February and the City Council in a 5-2 vote on Monday, March 3, allows the schools to keep its portion of the new Anderson County revenues collected outside the city. However, the resolution spells out how the money has to be spent: on technology enhancements, debt reduction, capital repairs and equipment, and grant matches and innovative educational projects. [Read more...]