Note: This story was updated at 1:45 p.m.
The budget request released Tuesday by President Donald Trump includes money to start construction of two buildings at the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.
Budget highlights for the National Nuclear Security Administration, or NNSA, were released early Tuesday afternoon. Y-12 is an NNSA site.
The budget request would allow the NNSA to start construction of the Main Process Building and the Salvage and Accountability Building at the Uranium Processing Facility, the NNSA said in a press release.
The NNSA, a semi-autonomous U.S. Department of Energy agency, will have a conference call with reporters at 3 p.m. today (Tuesday, May 23) to provide more information.
There has been much attention focused on the potential cuts in the preliminary budget blueprint released in March and the more detailed budget request released Tuesday, including a proposal to reduce spending for DOE’s Office of Science by $900 million. Oak Ridge National Laboratory is an Office of Science lab.
But in Oak Ridge, it has seemed possible that NNSA work and environmental management (federal cleanup) programs could benefit under the presidential budget proposals.
But both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, including Senator John Cornyn, the second-ranking Republican in the Senate, have declared the Fiscal Year 2018 presidential budget request that was released Tuesday “dead on arrival,” according to NBC News. Lawmakers have said that the cuts are too steep and the accounting is too unrealistic, the network reported. Presidential budget proposals are more statements of priorities than legislation, Cornyn said.
Even if they reject the president’s budget request, it’s not clear yet if Congress might retain some of his proposals, such as the funding for the two UPF buildings at Y-12.
In the press release, the NNSA said the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Request for Weapons Activities ($10.2 billion) is 10.8 percent above the Fiscal Year 2017 Omnibus level. That’s to meet the administration’s requirements to modernize the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile and infrastructure, the press release said.
It said the presidential budget request would enable NNSA to:
- Start construction of the Main Process Building and the Salvage and Accountability Building at the Y-12 Uranium Processing Facility in Oak Ridge.
- Complete production of W76-1 Life Extension Program (LEP) warhead by FY 2019; and deliver the B61-12 LEP First Production Unit (FPU) in FY 2020, the W88 ALT 370 FPU in FY 2020, and the W80-4 FPU in FY 2025.
- Begin to restore the nation’s capability to manufacture plutonium pits on the timeline required to meet future stockpile needs.
- Modernize the infrastructure for tritium production at the Savannah River Site near Aiken, South Carolina.
- Collaborate with DOE’s Office of Science to develop and deliver exascale computing capabilities needed to certify the nuclear weapons stockpile in the next decade.
- Modernize the Office of Secure Transportation’s fleet of transporters.
- Enhance physical and cyber security at our sites to stay ahead of evolving and emerging threats to our personnel, sensitive information, and national security assets.
For Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, the FY 2018 Budget Request ($1.8 billion) “is consistent with the FY 2017 Omnibus level,” the press release said. The request would enable NNSA to:
- Pursue additional opportunities to minimize and, where possible, eliminate weapons-usable nuclear material around the world.
- Work with local, state, and federal partners to both prevent and be prepared to respond to nuclear or radiological incidents at home or abroad.
- Provide analytical and technical support to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to further U.S. nonproliferation and threat reduction goals through IAEA’s nuclear security and safeguards mission.
- Advance detection and monitoring capabilities for nuclear material production, material movement, and nuclear explosions.
For Naval Reactors, the FY 2018 Budget Request ($1.48 billion) is 4.2 percent above the FY 2017 Omnibus level to support the Navy’s fleet of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines. The budget request would enable NNSA to:
- Provide core support for the safe and reliable operation of the nation’s nuclear fleet—75 submarines; 11 aircraft carriers; and 4 research, development, and training platforms—that account for more than 45 percent of the Navy’s major combatants.
- Continue the design and development of the reactor plant for the COLUMBIA-Class submarine, which will feature a life-of-ship core and electric drive.
- Refuel a Research and Training Reactor to facilitate COLUMBIA-Class reactor development efforts and provide reactor-based training for fleet operators.
- Build a new spent fuel handling facility in Idaho that will help with long-term, reliable processing and packaging of spent nuclear fuel from aircraft carriers and submarines.
For Federal Salaries and Expenses, the FY 2018 Budget Request ($418 million) would be 8 percent above the 2017 Omnibus level and would support recruiting, training, and retaining the highly-skilled federal workforce essential to achieving success in the technically complex national security missions of the 21st century.
The press release said the president’s $13.9 billion FY 2018 Budget Request for NNSA would be an increase of $1 billion—or 7.8 percent—above the FY 2017 Omnibus level, “representing the administration’s commitment to NNSA’s diverse missions: maintaining the safety, security, reliability, and effectiveness of the nuclear weapons stockpile; reducing the threat of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terrorism around the world; and providing naval nuclear propulsion to the U.S. Navy’s fleet of aircraft carriers and submarines.”
“This budget request is vital to ensuring that U.S. nuclear forces are modern, robust, flexible, resilient, ready, and appropriately tailored to deter 21st Century threats and reassure our allies,” said retired Lieutenant General Frank G. Klotz, DOE under secretary for nuclear security and NNSA administrator. “It also includes long overdue investments to repair and replace aging infrastructure at our national laboratories and production plants, and to provide modern and more efficient workspace for our highly-talented scientific, engineering, and professional workforce.”
Full details of the president’s FY18 budget for NNSA are available here.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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