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.
Alexander called the review “the light at the end of the tunnel.” Federal officials had expressed concern about costs and construction dates as the estimated cost of the UPF passed $10 billion and the construction completion date was pushed back to 2038. The Red Team’s mission was to find an alternative that would keep the cost at or below $6.5 billion and still allow Y-12 workers to get out of Building 9212, an aging facility in the plant’s production area, by 2025.
“They’ve come back to us with what looks like a perfectly obvious solution,” Alexander said during Wednesday’s hearing, which featured top National Nuclear Security Administration officials, including new Administrator Frank G. Klotz.
The 25-member Red Team, which was chaired by Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thom Mason, submitted its report to the NNSA on April 15 after a three-month review process.
More information will be added as it becomes available.