The federal Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board will meet in Knoxville in October to discuss, among other things, the risks associated with continuing to operate old buildings involved in weapons work at the Y-12 National Security Complex—and the progress made in the past year to incorporate safety into the design of the multi-billion dollar Uranium Processing Facility.
The day-long meeting, which is open to the public, will include two sessions on Oct. 22 at the Knoxville Convention Center.
During the first session, from 8 a.m. to noon, the DNFSB will hear testimony from the National Nuclear Security Administration and its contractor B&W Y-12 concerning the safety-related risks associated with continuing to operate aging defense nuclear facilities at Y-12, according to a summary posted on the board’s website. Y-12 was built during World War II to enrich uranium for the world’s first atomic bombs as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project.
During the morning session, the board will also “examine near-term and long-term risk assessment and mitigation efforts, including NNSA’s progress since the board’s Oct. 2, 2012, public meeting and hearing concerning improving the integration of safety into the design of the Uranium Capabilities Replacement Project, formerly known as the Uranium Processing Facility Project,” the summary said.
In Session II, from 2 to 6 p.m., the board will discuss Y-12’s emergency planning, response, and oversight capabilities for severe events, including the condition and survivability of emergency response facilities, the summary said. The board will also discuss the safety of nuclear operations, “specifically focused on key safety initiatives to improve conduct of operations and work planning, as well as the importance of robust oversight to sustain long-term improvements.”
The board is accepting relevant comments, technical information, and data concerning safety issues for this year’s meeting. For more information on the meeting, including contact information and information on how to speak at the end of sessions, see this notice in the Federal Register.
The DNFSB is an independent organization within the executive branch given the responsibility to provide recommendations and advice to the president and the U.S. energy secretary regarding public health and safety issues at U.S. Department of Energy defense nuclear facilities. The board has operated since October 1989, and it has four members appointed by the president for staggered five-year terms.
The board is supported by almost 100 technical and administrative staff personnel and an annual budget of $22 million. The board headquarters is located in Washington, D.C., and 10 board staff personnel are currently on two-three year rotational assignment at the following DOE sites: Los Alamos, Livermore, Pantex, Hanford, Oak Ridge, and Savannah River.