Alexander: Spending bill includes $440 million for ORNL supercomputer, UPF at Y-12

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander

Lamar Alexander

The $1 trillion spending bill passed by the Senate on Saturday night includes more than $400 million in funding to support two Oak Ridge projects—building the world’s fastest supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander said.

The appropriations legislation avoids a government shutdown and funds most of the government through September. The Senate approved it in a bipartisan 56-40 vote, and it now goes to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.

The spending bill cleared the House on Thursday. Liberals sought to strip out a policy provision that eases a Wall Street regulation, and conservatives tried to slow action on immigration. [Read more…]

NNSA: Field work to prepare Y-12 for UPF is on schedule, under budget

UPF Field Work at Y-12

Field work to prepare the Y-12 National Security Complex for building the Uranium Processing Facility is on schedule and under budget, federal officials said. (Photo courtesy NNSA)


Field work to prepare the Y-12 National Security Complex for building the Uranium Processing Facility, or UPF, is on schedule and under budget and has surpassed 500 days without a recordable accident or injury, a press release said.

Site Readiness, the first construction subproject for UPF, began in late spring 2013 and is expected to be completed in winter 2015.

“The Site Readiness subproject is setting the standard for quality UPF construction on budget,” said Don Peters, federal construction manager for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s UPF Project Office. “We’ve accomplished a lot of work in an area that stretches across an approximate five-mile linear footprint.”

The press release said that work either completed or under way includes relocation of Bear Creek Road, including a new bridge; relocation of several potable water lines; rerouting of overhead electrical lines; construction of a haul road; mitigation for wetlands impacted during road construction; development of the west borrow and wet spoils areas to receive soils for later project phases; demolition of a parking lot, a decommissioned guard tower, and other structures; and construction of sediment basins to protect Y-12 natural resources from erosion and sedimentation. [Read more…]

Robbins named deputy manager of NNSA Production Office

Teresa M. Robbins

Teresa M. Robbins

Teresa M. Robbins has been named deputy manager for the National Nuclear Security Administration Production Office, or NPO.

In her new role, Robbins is responsible for day-to-day management and tactical execution of NPO activities. NPO is responsible for contract management and technical oversight of the consolidated contract at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge and Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas.

“Ms. Robbins has a wealth of technical and project management experience and excellent personnel management skills,” said Steve Erhart, NPO manager. “She is a great addition to the senior executive team in NNSA.”

Robbins has more than 20 years of experience in nuclear facility operations, engineering, safety analysis, maintenance, and risk analysis within the U.S. Department of Energy complex, a press release said. She previously held several leadership positions at NNSA, where she served as the deputy federal project director for the Uranium Processing Facility project, and more recently as acting senior scientific and technical adviser and then as the acting assistant manager for environment, safety, health, and quality for NPO. [Read more…]

Y-12 employee-led Help to the Smokies team still going strong

Y-12 Employees Help the Smokies

Y-12’s Help to the Smokies employee-led team volunteered at a Great Smoky Mountains National Park cleanup event on Nov. 8. The team contributed 154 hours in restoration and enhancement activities during the event. (Submitted photo)


Note: This story was updated at 10:40 a.m. Nov. 26.

Y-12’s employee-led Help to the Smokies team tacked another 154 hours onto their already massive volunteer service record at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park during their annual volunteer work day on November 8. Since its start, the volunteer team has contributed about 14,000 hours in the Park.

Some 22 volunteers assisted park staff in maintenance and refurbishment of Loop B campsites at the Cosby Campground. The volunteer team performed general restoration activities for 31 individual campsites. These activities included elevating, leveling, and resetting 31 picnic tables, distributing and applying 85 tons of gravel covering to 26 campsites, and leveling selected camp fire rings. [Read more…]

2014 Election: Interest in mayor position, mall redevelopment, better ties with BOE

Oak Ridge City Council Candidate Forum

Nine of the 10 Oak Ridge City Council candidates are pictured above. From right, they are Kelly Callison, Rick Chinn, incumbent Anne Garcia Garland, Warren Gooch, Gary Love, incumbent David Mosby, Pedro Otaduy, former Council member Ellen Smith, and Eric Tobler. Not pictured is Aditya “Doc” Savara.


A majority of the Oak Ridge City Council candidates said they would consider running for mayor or vice mayor if elected on Tuesday, and almost all supported the incentives recommended for the proposed redevelopers of the former Oak Ridge Mall.

The candidates were mixed on whether to bring back red-light cameras, and most seemed to think the city’s property tax rate is about right, in light of current budget needs.

Asked to grade the current Council as leaders, the candidates handed out grades ranging from “A” to “F.”

In a series of recent forums, the candidates generally advocated for better communication between the City Council and Oak Ridge Board of Education and, for the most part, seemed to be in favor of taking over Clark Center Park in south Oak Ridge, although their approvals would hinge on factors such as cost and property restrictions.

There are 10 candidates running for four seats on the seven-member Council in Tuesday’s election. Two of the incumbents—Anne Garcia Garland and David Mosby—are seeking re-election—and two others—Mayor Tom Beehan and Mayor Pro Tem Jane Miller—are not.

Many consider it a critical election, with a business boom under way and major projects on the horizon, including the proposed redevelopment of the mall and the planned $6.5 billion Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12 National Security Complex.

The new Council is expected to elect a new mayor and mayor pro tem (like a vice mayor) during its next meeting after Tuesday’s election.

Here is a look at some of what the candidates said during the recent forums. [Read more…]

Garcia Garland running for re-election to City Council

Anne Garcia Garland

Anne Garcia Garland

Oak Ridge City Council member Anne Garcia Garland is running for re-election in the November 4 municipal election.

In a press release, Garcia Garland said the City Council has now begun to function like a team, the vision she had for it when she was first elected.

“The five members who have been meeting to consider policy and long-term planning have begun to realize how much more can be accomplished in this way,” Garcia Garland said. “I believe that if we can do this as a Council, then we should be able to work in a similar manner with the Board of Education and move forward together.”

Actions by the city government have shown that TIFs (tax increment financing) are useful for investing in new businesses, and the growth of the Illinois Avenue corridor is healthy, Garcia Garland said. She said Council encouraged the Kroger development by changing zoning and permitting traffic signals, and that center inspired the investment in Oak Ridge by the new mall developers. [Read more…]

Brown to remain as UPF procurement manager

Rich Brown will remain procurement manager for the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex, UPF Project Director Brian Reilly said last week.

Here is an announcement that Reilly sent to the UPF team on Tuesday, October 7: [Read more…]

Safety Fest TN: ORAU, CNS experts to discuss effective safety communications

Free seminar draws upon lessons learned at Uranium Processing Facility Project

Health and safety experts from Oak Ridge Associated Universities and a communications specialist from Consolidated Nuclear Security, the new contractor at the Y-12 National Security Complex, will discuss effective safety communications during Safety Fest TN in Oak Ridge this week.

The ORAU experts are David Duncan and Jeffrey Miller, and the CNS communications specialist is Kathryn King.

Their seminar, scheduled for 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 9, informs organizations on how to improve the effectiveness of safety communications by first examining how communication breakdowns contributed to well-known safety catastrophes, like the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, an ORAU press release said. They will also present detailed instructions on how to develop an effective safety communications plan, methods for implementing and monitoring the plan, and techniques for measuring and evaluating the effectiveness of safety communications.

“Successful case studies will be presented including experiences from the Y-12 National Security Complex’s Uranium Processing Facility Project, where the effectiveness of safety communications has dramatically improved over a three-year period after implementing these methods,” the press release said. [Read more…]

Fleischmann touts record, Appropriations seat; Wamp willing to work across aisle

U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann

Chuck Fleischmann

They’ve battled over negative ads, political endorsements, special interest money, and the Affordable Care Act.

U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann, the two-term incumbent, touts his seat on the powerful House Appropriations Committee and, important to Oak Ridge, the Energy and Water Subcommittee.

Meanwhile, Weston Wamp, his challenger, has suggested a willingness to work across party lines to “move the country forward.”

The two men face off in a in two-man battle in the Republican primary on Thursday. It’s in part a rematch of the three-man GOP primary in Tennessee’s Third District in 2012, when Wamp and Scotty Mayfield lost to Fleischmann. [Read more…]

2014 Election: Mayoral candidates ‘bicker’ over tax hikes, lawsuits

Anderson County Mayor Debate

The three candidates for Anderson County mayor are pictured above at a debate moderated by radio talk show host Hallerin Hilton Hill, left. Starting at center, the three candidates in the August 7 mayoral election are Terry Frank, the incumbent and a Republican; Democrat Jim Hackworth; and Independent Bradley Rickett.

CLINTON—She’s attacked him over a 24-year-old tax hike. He’s blasted her over lawsuits and turmoil in the Anderson County Courthouse.

The two candidates, Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank and her challenger, Jim Hackworth, will face off in the August 7 election.

Frank, a Republican, was first elected mayor in a special election in August 2012. Now she is running for her first four-year term.

Hackworth, a Democrat, is a former state representative and Anderson County commissioner.

The two have battled in forums, on radio shows, and through ads and flyers. Their political squabbles have largely ignored the third candidate, Independent Bradley Rickett. [Read more…]

Letter from Prison: Y-12 protesters’ statement on second anniversary of break-in

Transform Now Plowshares

Note: This is a copy of a letter sent Monday from the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center by Sr. Megan Rice, on behalf of the Transform Now Plowshares.

We send warm greetings and many thanks to all who actively engage in the transformation of weapons of mass destruction to sustainable life-giving alternatives. Gregory Boertje-Obed (U.S. Penitentiary, Leavenworth, Kansas) Michael Walli (Federal Correctional Institution McKean, Bradford, Pennsylvania), and I are sending you some of our observations and concerns on the second anniversary of our Transform Now Plowshares action.

On July 28, 2012, after thorough study of nuclear issues, and because of our deepening commitment to nonviolence, we engaged in direct action by cutting through four fences at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where the U.S. continues to overhaul and upgrade thermonuclear warheads.

On that day, two years ago, when we reached the building where all U.S. highly enriched (bomb-grade) uranium is stored, we prayed and also wrote messages on the wall, such as “The Fruit of Justice is Peace.” (Realistically, the higher and stronger fences built as a result of our nonviolent incursion can never keep humans safe from inherently dangerous materials and weapons.) We acted humbly as “creative extremists for love,” to cite one of our most important and revered leaders, Martin Luther King Jr.

There are a number of reasons for what we did. We three were acutely mindful of the widespread loss to humanity that nuclear systems have already caused, and we realize that all life on Earth could be exterminated through intentional, accidental, or technical error. [Read more…]

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…]