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DOE picks Idaho for nuclear test reactor

Image courtesy U.S. Department of Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy has decided to build a nuclear test reactor at Idaho National Laboratory to study fuels and materials.

Besides INL, Oak Ridge National Laboratory had been considered as a potential site for the Versatile Test Reactor. ORNL remains one of five national laboratories that are partners on the project. DOE said building the test reactor at INL was its preferred alternative.

At ORNL, the Versatile Test Reactor would have been at a relatively undeveloped site previously considered for other projects about a mile east of the ORNL main campus. It would have required a new hot cell and a facility for post-irradiation examination and the conditioning of spent nuclear fuel for disposal. It would also have used existing facilities at ORNL, including the Irradiated Fuels Examination Laboratory and the Irradiated Material Examination and Testing Facility.

DOE said building the Versatile Test Reactor at either INL or ORNL would have small environmental consequences, but overall, the consequences would be less at the INL site. Among the reasons: A smaller area would be temporarily disturbed and permanently occupied at INL because of the need to build a new hot cell facility at ORNL. Unlike the INL site, the ORNL location abuts wetlands that would have to be managed or avoided under the Clean Water Act and Tennessee regulations. The removal of trees at ORNL would result in the loss of roosting habitat for sensitive bat species. And although small at both locations, the potential radiological impacts would be lower at INL because the Versatile Test Reactor would be farther from the site boundary and population density is lower near INL than ORNL.

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Image courtesy U.S. Department of Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy has decided to build a nuclear test reactor at Idaho National Laboratory to study fuels and materials.

Besides INL, Oak Ridge National Laboratory had been considered as a potential site for the Versatile Test Reactor. ORNL remains one of five national laboratories that are partners on the project. DOE said building the test reactor at INL is its preferred alternative.

Image courtesy U.S. Department of Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy has decided to build a nuclear test reactor at Idaho National Laboratory to study fuels and materials.

Besides INL, Oak Ridge National Laboratory had been considered as a potential site for the Versatile Test Reactor. ORNL remains one of five national laboratories that are partners on the project. DOE said building the test reactor at INL was its preferred alternative.

At ORNL, the Versatile Test Reactor would have been at a relatively undeveloped site previously considered for other projects about a mile east of the ORNL main campus. It would have required a new hot cell and a facility for post-irradiation examination and the conditioning of spent nuclear fuel for disposal. It would also have used existing facilities at ORNL, including the Irradiated Fuels Examination Laboratory and the Irradiated Material Examination and Testing Facility.

DOE said building the Versatile Test Reactor at either INL or ORNL would have small environmental consequences, but overall, the consequences would be less at the INL site. Among the reasons: A smaller area would be temporarily disturbed and permanently occupied at INL because of the need to build a new hot cell facility at ORNL. Unlike the INL site, the ORNL location abuts wetlands that would have to be managed or avoided under the Clean Water Act and Tennessee regulations. The removal of trees at ORNL would result in the loss of roosting habitat for sensitive bat species. And although small at both locations, the potential radiological impacts would be lower at INL because the Versatile Test Reactor would be farther from the site boundary and population density is lower near INL than ORNL.

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ETTP cleanup team receives Secretary’s Award

East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site, is pictured above in west Oak Ridge after most cleanup work, including demolition of the five large gaseous diffusion buildings, was completed. (Submitted photo)

The Oak Ridge team that mostly cleaned up the former K-25 site, demolishing five large gaseous diffusion buildings and more than 500 structures, has received a Secretary’s Achievement Award from U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. The work was done ahead of schedule and under budget, the U.S. Department of Energy said.

Granholm honored the DOE Office of Environmental Management team from Oak Ridge in a virtual ceremony Wednesday, a press release said.

K-25 was used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons and commercial nuclear power plants from World War II to the 1980s.

It was the first removal of a uranium enrichment complex, and it cleared 13 million square feet of deteriorated, contaminated structures from the site, the press release said.

“The Secretary’s Achievement Award honors a group or team of DOE employees and contractors who accomplish significant achievements on behalf of the department, demonstrating cooperation and teamwork in attaining their goals,” the press release said. “The award was given to the Oak Ridge Vision 2020 Project Team based on its achievements from 2020.”

[Read more…]

DOE, state pave way to transfer 3,500 acres


From left, TWRA Executive Director Bobby Wilson, Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management Acting Manager Laura Wilkerson, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory Site Office Manager Johnny Moore sign an agreement that lays the groundwork to transfer more than 3,500 acres of scenic East Tennessee land from the U.S. Department of Energy to the state of Tennessee. (Submitted photo)

 

More than 3,500 acres of federal land could be transferred to the state of Tennessee, including Clark Center Park and Black Oak Ridge Conservation Easement.

The land could be transferred under an agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The two organizations signed an Agreement in Principle on Wednesday, December 15, that “lays the groundwork to transfer more than 3,500 acres of scenic East Tennessee land to the state,” a press release said.

“Transferring this federally owned land will increase natural resource management and designate areas for greenspace and mixed-use recreational opportunities for the public,” the press release said.

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From left, TWRA Executive Director Bobby Wilson, Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management Acting Manager Laura Wilkerson, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory Site Office Manager Johnny Moore sign an agreement that lays the groundwork to transfer more than 3,500 acres of scenic East Tennessee land from the U.S. Department of Energy to the state of Tennessee. (Submitted photo)

More than 3,500 acres of federal land could be transferred to the state of Tennessee, including Clark Center Park and Black Oak Ridge Conservation Easement.

The land could be transferred under an agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The two organizations signed an Agreement in Principle on Wednesday, December 15, that “lays the groundwork to transfer more than 3,500 acres of scenic East Tennessee land to the state,” a press release said.


From left, TWRA Executive Director Bobby Wilson, Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management Acting Manager Laura Wilkerson, and Oak Ridge National Laboratory Site Office Manager Johnny Moore sign an agreement that lays the groundwork to transfer more than 3,500 acres of scenic East Tennessee land from the U.S. Department of Energy to the state of Tennessee. (Submitted photo)

 

More than 3,500 acres of federal land could be transferred to the state of Tennessee, including Clark Center Park and Black Oak Ridge Conservation Easement.

The land could be transferred under an agreement between the U.S. Department of Energy and Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency. The two organizations signed an Agreement in Principle on Wednesday, December 15, that “lays the groundwork to transfer more than 3,500 acres of scenic East Tennessee land to the state,” a press release said.

“Transferring this federally owned land will increase natural resource management and designate areas for greenspace and mixed-use recreational opportunities for the public,” the press release said.

The rest of this story is available if you are a member: a subscriber, advertiser, or contributor to Oak Ridge Today. Already a member? Great! Thank you! Sign in here. Not a member? No problem! Subscribe here: Basic

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If you prefer to send a check, you may do so by mailing one to: Oak Ridge Today P.O. Box 6064 Oak Ridge, TN 37831 We also have advanced subscription options. You can see them here. We also accept donations. You can donate here. A donation of $50 or more will make you eligible for a subscription. Thank you for reading Oak Ridge Today. We appreciate your support!

Granholm learns about ORNL wireless charging, seawater batteries

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, second from right, talks about the infrastructure bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden and the Build Back Better Act passed by the U.S. House of Representatives during a visit to GRID-C at Oak Ridge National Laboratory on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. Also pictured from right are ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia; U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, whose district includes Oak Ridge; and Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory shared their intriguing studies of wireless charging and seawater batteries, among other novel projects, with U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm during a tour on Monday.

Granholm was in East Tennessee to highlight the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which passed Congress and was signed into law by President Joe Biden on November 15, and the president’s Build Back Better agenda, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week but hasn’t been approved by the Senate yet.

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, second from right, talks about the infrastructure bill passed by Congress and signed into law by President Joe Biden and the Build Back Better Act during a visit to GRID-C at Oak Ridge National Laboratory on Monday, Nov. 22, 2021. Also pictured from right are ORNL Director Thomas Zacharia; U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, whose district includes Oak Ridge; and Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

 

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory shared their intriguing studies of wireless charging and seawater batteries, among other novel projects, with U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm during a tour on Monday.

Granholm was in East Tennessee to highlight the bipartisan infrastructure bill, which passed Congress and was signed into law by President Joe Biden on November 15, and the president’s Build Back Better agenda, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives last week but hasn’t been approved by the Senate yet.

“These historic investments will accelerate the transition to a more resilient, clean energy powered futurebringing economic development and good-paying, local jobs,” the U.S. Department of Energy said in a press release.

The Biden administration has set a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 50 percent, compared to 2005 levels, by 2030 and reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

“Part of the legislation passed last week is a big step forward,” Granholm said.

Among other benefits, the ORNL projects are expected to help the United States transition to a carbon-free economy as countries around the world seek to reduce emissions, improve the use of batteries and renewable energy, and allow the nation to be less reliant on other countries for critical materials such as cobalt.

The rest of this story is available if you are a member: a subscriber, advertiser, or contributor to Oak Ridge Today.

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DOE: Feds must be fully vaccinated by Nov. 22

The Joe L. Evins Federal Building is pictured above in Oak Ridge on Monday, Nov. 19, 2018. (File photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

The executive order issued by President Joe Biden in September requires federal employees to be fully vaccinated by November 22, the U.S. Department of Energy said. DOE said 84 percent of the department’s federal workforce was, at the time, fully vaccinated.

To comply with the November 22 deadline, DOE’s employees must complete their vaccinations by November 8. This would apply to the first Johnson & Johnson shot, a one-shot vaccine, or the second Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech shots, both two-shot vaccines. People aren’t considered fully vaccinated until two weeks after the final dose of a vaccine.

The U.S. Department of Energy notified its staff of the vaccine requirement on Tuesday last week.

“Protecting your health and safety is our top priority,” DOE told its staff. “To help ensure this, President Biden issued an executive order requiring all federal employees to be fully vaccinated by November 22, 2021. This applies to all federal employees regardless of remote, telework, or onsite reporting status, except in limited circumstances in which an employee may be exempt due to a legally required accommodation.”

[Read more…]

DOE plans to demolish world’s oldest operating nuclear facility

Building 3019, the oldest operating nuclear facility in the world, is pictured above at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management)

The U.S. Department of Energy plans to demolish the oldest operating nuclear facility in the world.

The cleanup and demolition of Building 3019 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory could start sometime around 2030.

But the work won’t start until more than 500 canisters of uranium-233 stored in the building have been processed and removed, possibly by 2025.

More than 70 years old, Building 3019 was built during World War II as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project. That was a top-secret federal program to build the world’s first atomic bombs.

From 1943-1976, the building was used as a pilot plant to test radiochemical processes before they were used on a large scale at other nuclear facilities.

Now Building 3019 stores the nation’s inventory of uranium-233. Processing and removing that uranium is the top cleanup priority at ORNL because, among other things, storing the highly enriched fissile nuclear material increases security costs and creates nuclear safety issues. The cleanup work is being done by DOE’s Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management and its contractor Isotek.

[Read more…]

Updated: TerraPower, Isotek extracting cancer treatment materials from U-233 at ORNL

DOE EM ORNL Pumping Uranyl Nitrate Solution into Resin Columns
TerraPower, a company that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates helped launch in 2006, is working with Isotek Systems LLC, a federal cleanup contractor in Oak Ridge, to extract rare isotopes from nuclear materials for cancer treatment and research. Pictured above is a uranyl nitrate solution being pumped into resin columns. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management)

Note: This story was last updated at 10:30 a.m. Nov. 25.

A company that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates helped launch in 2006 is working with a federal cleanup contractor in Oak Ridge to extract rare isotopes from nuclear materials for cancer treatment research.

The project will significantly increase the number of cancer treatment doses available each year, federal officials and company executives said Friday. It will help remove highly enriched fissile nuclear material from Oak Ridge National Laboratory and save taxpayers an estimated $90 million, the officials and executives said. And it will recycle an isotope that would otherwise be “irretrievably lost” as the nuclear material, uranium-233, is converted into a disposal-ready form.

The U.S. Department of Energy, Isotek Systems LLC, and TerraPower celebrated with an announcement of the project in Oak Ridge on Friday morning.

TerraPower, which is based in Bellevue, Washington, where Gates is chairman, is particularly interested in actinium-225. That isotope can be extracted from thorium-229. The thorium will be removed from the fissile material, the uranium-233 stored at ORNL, by the federal cleanup contractor, Isotek.

The unique agreement, a public-private partnership, is expected to allow TerraPower the ability to make 100 times more actinium-225-based cancer treatment doses per year than the 4,000 doses that are currently available worldwide. TerraPower could first offer actinium-225 in late 2020, company executives said.

[Read more…]

Crews start demolishing ETTP Centrifuge Complex

ETTP Centrifuge Complex Aerial View
Demolition work has started on the Centrifuge Complex at the front side of the East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site in west Oak Ridge. The work is part of the project to finish cleanup at ETTP by the end of 2020. (Photo courtesy U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management)

The largest and most visible buildings remaining at the East Tennessee Technology Park are being removed.

Demolition is under way on the Centrifuge Complex, according to the “EM Update” newsletter published last week by the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management.

The demolition work is part of the project to finish cleanup at ETTP, the former K-25 site in west Oak Ridge, by the end of 2020. One of the three main sites in Oak Ridge, K-25 was built as part of the Manhattan Project, the top-secret federal program to build atomic weapons during World War II. The site continued to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons and commercial nuclear power plants through the Cold War. Its operations ended in the mid-1980s, and the site is now being converted into a private industrial park.

The Centrifuge Complex has more than 235,000 square feet, and sections of it reach heights of 180 feet. It was built in stages to develop and test centrifuge uranium enrichment technology, the “EM Update” said. The last of these facilities ceased operation in the mid-1980s.

[Read more…]

Centrus finishes preparing centrifuge testing building for demolition

The “footprint,” the area where the K-25 Building used to be in west Oak Ridge, is pictured above at the East Tennessee Technology Park in west Oak Ridge. The white K-1600 Building is pictured in the middle of the “footprint.” The brick building in the foreground is Oak Ridge Fire Station No. 4. (File photo courtesy U.S. Department of Energy Oak Ridge Office of Environmental Management)

Centrus Energy Corporation on Wednesday said it has successfully completed a $15 million project to decontaminate and decommission a building at the East Tennessee Technology Park that has been used to test and demonstrate centrifuges that could be used to enrich uranium.

The building is K-1600, which is in the middle of the former mile-long, U-shaped K-25 Building at East Tennessee Technology Park in west Oak Ridge.

Centrus said it finished the work budget and on time, within a year. The work was to occur between October 1, 2018, and September 30, 2019.

“I’m pleased our team was able to deliver the results the department expected on a very short timetable,” said Centrus President and Chief Executive Officer Daniel B. Poneman.

The U.S. Department of Energy awarded Centrus a $15 million work authorization on September 27, 2018, to prepare K-1600 for demolition.

[Read more…]

Deputy energy secretary visits nuclear, national security sites

Dan Brouillette East Tennessee Aug 2019
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette traveled to Tennessee this week to tour the BWXT—Nuclear Fuel Services Inc. Facility, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and meet with University of Tennessee President, Randy Boyd. (Photo by Department of Energy)

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette traveled to Tennessee this week to tour the BWXT-Nuclear Fuel Services Inc. Facility and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and meet with University of Tennessee President Randy Boyd.

Brouillette was joined by Congressman Phil Roe and BWXT-Nuclear Fuel Services leadership on his tour of the downblending process facility and the fuel manufacturing facility at NFS, a U.S. Department of Energy press release said.

“They had a productive discussion about the innovative technologies pioneered by BWXT and NFS that fuel our nation’s naval reactors and defense industry,” the press release said. “The deputy secretary emphasized the importance of the critical work being done at this facility.”

[Read more…]

(For members) DOE could lease space to store elemental mercury

Image from “Final Long-Term Management and Storage of Elemental Mercury Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement” published by U.S. Department of Energy in September 2013.

Image from “Final Long-Term Management and Storage of Elemental Mercury Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement” published by U.S. Department of Energy in September 2013.

Image from “Final Long-Term Management and Storage of Elemental Mercury Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement” published by U.S. Department of Energy in September 2013.

The U.S. Department of Energy is considering whether to lease space to store elemental mercury from sites across the country.

The facility could store about 1,200 metric tons (1,300 tons) of elemental mercury. The waste has been generated at sites in the United States, mostly at gold mining operations, according to the DOE Office of Environmental Management.

The mercury that could be stored at the leased facility is separate from the 1,200 metric tons of mercury stored at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. The Y-12 mercury, about 2.6 million pounds stored in seamless steel flasks, was acquired for lithium-6 isotope separation operations for thermonuclear weapons.

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