The federal budget expected to be complete by mid-December should have record funding, and the money could help Oak Ridge in areas ranging from mercury and Cold War cleanup to scientific research and the proposed Uranium Processing Facility, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander said Friday.
The Oak Ridge area now receives about $3 billion per year in federal funding, and the level will be increased although he doesn’t have a number yet, said Alexander, a Tennessee Republican.
Alexander held a brief press conference at the Oak Ridge Municipal Building on Friday.
He said the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which provided $1.4 billion to Oak Ridge National Laboratory this year, will have a record level of funding.
There will be several hundred million dollars per year for 10 years for the proposed Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex. The project has been capped at $6.5 billion, and it is expected to be completed by 2025.
There is also federal funding for initiatives that include new advances in additive manufacturing, advanced computing, and a new research target at the Spallation Neutron Source at ORNL, said Alexander, who was flanked by Manhattan Project National Historical Park banners and Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch and Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank.
The purpose of the press conference was to celebrate: It’s a good time to be in Oak Ridge, Alexander said.
“I’ve never seen Oak Ridge and the surrounding area moving in a more positive direction,” the senator said.
He cited the federal funding, local leadership, and the new Manhattan Project National Historical Park, a new, unique three-site park that includes Oak Ridge; Hanford, Washington; and Los Alamos, New Mexico.
“Oak Ridge has played a key role in scientific research for many decades and will continue to play a key role in our nation’s future,” Alexander said. “Last week’s formal announcement of the Manhattan Project National Historical Park highlighted the vital role the Manhattan Project played in our history and the continuing impact the project’s legacy has on our nation’s future. From that effort arose some of the country’s great national laboratories—our secret weapons as we look to the future of keeping our country competitive in the world.”
The senator said he is working with the House on the Energy and Water Appropriations bill, which is expected to include a record level of federal funding for Oak Ridge this year.
Alexander is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development. In May, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the senator’s fiscal year 2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill that provided $35.4 billion to fund U.S. Department of Energy programs and the Army Corps of Engineers. The legislation, which included $1.2 billion more than the FY2015 enacted level, was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee by a vote of 26 to 4.
The appropriations bill approved by the Senate in May provided funding for the following programs and projects that are priorities for Oak Ridge:
- The Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which supports basic energy research and provides funding for ORNL.
- The Uranium Processing Facility at Y-12.
- Funding for advanced supercomputing, including the new Summit supercomputer. Once again, the world’s fastest supercomputer will be at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 2017.
- Development of the second target station at the Spallation Neutron Source.
- Exascale computing, which is the next leap forward in supercomputing and performs 1,000 times faster than current supercomputers.
- Nuclear infrastructure at ORNL, including hot cells and isotope production facilities to support medical treatments, oil and gas exploration, and deep-space satellites. Many of the isotopes produced in Oak Ridge are not available anywhere else in the world.
- A new mercury treatment facility and funding for cleanup of nuclear facilities that are no longer in service.
“Earlier this year, I suggested naming the four-lane highway from the Knoxville airport to Oak Ridge the ‘Oak Ridge Corridor,’” Alexander said. “Advanced manufacturing and supercomputing at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, construction of the Uranium Processing Facility—which is one of the largest construction projects in the country—and cleanup work in Oak Ridge shows the promise of bringing new jobs for East Tennesseans.
“Now more than ever before, the Oak Ridge-Knoxville area is showing great promise for a bright future,” Alexander said.
Mayor Gooch said: “This is an exciting time for Oak Ridge, where great things happen everyday. Last week, our city was introduced to the nation as the newest site in our national park system. This week, our senior United States senator is visiting us as he promotes his bipartisan legislation, which would greatly enhance the DOE missions in Oak Ridge and which would add momentum to rebranding Pellissippi Parkway as the Oak Ridge Corridor.”
Mayor Frank said: “Senator Alexander’s idea to name the four-lane highway from the Knoxville airport to Oak Ridge the ‘Oak Ridge Corridor’ is one of the best ideas I’ve heard in a long time. The infrastructure, intellectual capital, and skilled workforce of the Manhattan Project carried forth to transform our area into a technological and manufacturing lodestone. Identifying the corridor will serve to multiply our regional success, and highlight the integral role we play in future advancements and security.”
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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