There are some “world-class engineering problems” to work through, but site preparation work has started on the giant new Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex, a project official said Thursday.
“We’re finally starting to make some traction,” UPF Federal Project Director John Eschenberg told several hundred people at the two-day Tennessee Valley Corridor National Summit at Y-12’s New Hope Center.
Eschenberg said the site prep work could last 18 months, and it will include work on power distribution and underground water lines as well as moving a section of Bear Creek Road to the north. Three contracts have already been awarded to East Tennessee small businesses.
The site work itself could start early in Fiscal Year 2016, Eschenberg said.
Estimated to cost up to $6.5 billion or more, the UPF is the largest construction project by the federal government in Tennessee since World War II, and construction could last another decade.
The building’s foundation will be 23 feet deep and filled with concrete. Featuring very thick walls, the UPF will be 500 feet by 390 feet, and 80 feet tall, Eschenberg said, much larger than the adjacent Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, which is also a relatively new building.
Federal, state, and local officials, as well as business leaders, believe the UPF project could provide an economic boost, including to the atrophied nuclear supply industry. And that could be useful to other projects including the Carbon Fiber Technology Facility at Horizon Center in west Oak Ridge and the proposed small modular nuclear reactors at the former Clinch River Breeder Reactor site, which is also in west Oak Ridge.
More information will be added as it becomes available.