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...]

New Y-12, Pantex contractor website includes employment information

Jim Haynes

Jim Haynes

The transition website for the new contractor at the Y-12 National Security Complex and Pantex Plant was posted online on Thursday afternoon. The new website for Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC is available at http://www.cnstransition.com.

CNS is the new managing and operating contractor at Y-12 in Oak Ridge and Pantex in Amarillo, Texas. The contract award, worth up to about $23 billion over 10 years, was first announced in January 2013 but delayed by a series of protests. The U.S. Government Accountability Office denied the third and final protest on Thursday, Feb. 27. On Monday, officials at the National Nuclear Security Administration said the transition to the new contractor had started and was expected to last four months.

On Thursday, CNS spokesman Jason Bohne said the company would be adding much more information to the transition website during the next few weeks and months, including more details on the senior management team, proposed organization, messages to employees, and more.

The transition website includes a message from CNS President and Chief Executive Officer Jim Haynes, who has been senior vice president and deputy general manager for the current Y-12 contractor, B&W Y-12. Other members of the CNS leadership team include Michael Jones, transformation; Darrell Graddy, mission support; and Carl Strock, project director for the Uranium Processing Facility. [Read more...]

NNSA budget request includes slight spending increase for UPF

Uranium Processing Facility

Pictured above is the proposed Uranium Processing Facility at the 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 budget request announced this week for the National Nuclear Security Administration includes a slight increase in spending for the proposed multi-billion-dollar Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex.

The $335 million request for UPF in Fiscal Year 2015, which starts Oct. 1, is up slightly from $326 million in FY14. That’s roughly a 2.8 percent increase.

The UPF project, which has an official cost estimate of up to $6.5 billion, is part of a broader effort to modernize Y-12, including its production facilities. The 811-acre plant was built during World War II to help enrich uranium for the world’s first atomic weapons.

But questions have been raised about rising cost projections and a redesign of the UPF. In February 2013, the NNSA said the redesign could add $539 million to the project cost and extend its schedule.

During a conference call with reporters on Tuesday, NNSA Acting Administrator Bruce Held said the agency wants to get workers out of Building 9212 at Y-12 by 2025. [Read more...]

Transition to new contractor under way at Y-12, Pantex

Y-12 National Security Complex Aerial View

The transition to a new contractor at the Y-12 National Security Complex, pictured above, and Pantex Plant in Texas is already under way and could be completed in four months.

Note: This story was last updated at 10:22 a.m. March 4.

The transition to a new contractor at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge and Pantex Plant in Texas is already under way and could be completed in four months, federal officials said Monday.

The transition to Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC of Reston, Va., had originally been scheduled to be complete by May 2013, but it was delayed by three rounds of protests. The U.S. Government Accountability Office denied the third and possibly final protest by Nuclear Production Partners LLC, or NP2, of Lynchburg, Va., on Thursday.

On Monday, the National Nuclear Security Administration said CNS will start managing and operating the weapons production plants at Y-12 and Pantex at the end of the four-month transition period. [Read more...]

GAO denies third protest of $22 billion contract to manage Y-12, Pantex

Y-12 National Security Complex Aerial View

Federal officials have denied the third protest by one of the two teams that unsuccessfully bid on a $22 billion contract to manage the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, pictured above, and Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas.

Note: This story was updated at 6:45 p.m.

Federal officials have denied the third protest by one of the two teams that unsuccessfully bid on a $22 billion contract to manage the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge and Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas.

In the protest, Nuclear Production Partners LLC of Lynchburg, Va., had challenged a November decision by the National Nuclear Security Administration to reaffirm its earlier decision, announced in January 2013, to award the consolidated contract to Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC of Reston, Va.

On Thursday, the U.S. Government Accountability Office announced that it had denied the third protest. It’s the final GAO protest, but the case could be appealed to the U.S. Court of Federal Claims in Washington, D.C.

Statistically, that’s not likely; the GAO hears 2,500 protests per year, and the court has about 84. But there is a large amount of money at stake with this contract.

The GAO had upheld one part of an earlier NP2 protest and denied or dismissed three elements of a second. [Read more...]

UT Center for Industrial Services holding nuclear industry supplier courses

Submitted

The University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services will hold information courses for companies interested in evaluating potential business opportunities in the nuclear field and with the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex.

These classes are specifically developed to address the most critical issues faced by suppliers interested in doing business with the UPF project as well as other regional nuclear energy developments, estimated to generate more than $50 billion in supplier opportunities. The sessions are ideal for chief executive officers and presidents, general managers, business development managers, quality managers, material and equipment companies, and metal fabricators.

An Advanced Business Decision Seminar will kick off the week of classes on Tuesday, Feb. 25 from 9 a.m. to noon at the New Hope Center in Oak Ridge. The remaining courses are: [Read more...]

Officials say little about Monday hearing on Y-12, Pantex contract

Y-12 National Security Complex

The Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge is pictured above.

Officials said little about the federal hearing held Monday to discuss the consolidated but contested contract to manage the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge and Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas.

The hearing is related to the protest filed by Nuclear Production Partners LLC, or NP2, which has contested the decision to award the contract to Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC of Reston, Va. Originally announced in January 2013, the contract could be worth up to $22.8 billion over a decade.

The hearing had originally been scheduled for Jan. 29, but it was rescheduled. [Read more...]

Federal spending bill includes money for Y-12 water plant, reduces UPF spending

Y-12 Water Treatment Plant Announcement

In May 2013, state and federal officials announce a plant to treat mercury-contaminated water at the Y-12 National Security Complex. Pictured from left are Mark Whitney, Robert Martineau, Lamar Alexander, Dave Huizenga, and Stan Meiburg.

The $1 trillion federal spending bill passed by Congress last week provides money for a water treatment plant that would help reduce mercury contamination in Oak Ridge, and it includes less money for the Uranium Processing Facility than President Obama had requested, Sen. Lamar Alexander said Thursday.

The U.S. Senate approved the spending bill in a 72-26 vote after the House passed it 359-67. Alexander and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann voted for it, while Sen. Bob Corker voted against it. All are Tennessee Republicans, and Fleischmann’s district includes Oak Ridge.

Alexander said the spending bill provides $16 million less than Obama had requested in his budget for the UPF, a multi-billion-dollar building that would replace old buildings at the Y-12 National Security Complex as part of a years-long effort to update the 811-acre site, consolidate operations, and cut the plant’s high-security “footprint” from 150 acres to 15. [Read more...]