The federal lawsuit that asks for an environmental review of the new multi-building design for the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex has been transferred from Washington, D.C., to Knoxville.
The transfer of the civil complaint had been requested in September by the defendants, U.S. Energy Secretary James Richard “Rick” Perry and Frank G. Klotz, former administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration. The NNSA is an agency within the U.S. Department of Energy that manages nuclear weapons programs and facilities, including Y-12, among other activities.
United States District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich, who was assigned the case in December, granted the motion to transfer the lawsuit from the District of Columbia to U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee, which includes the Knoxville division, on March 23.
The 44-page federal lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., on July 20, argues that a new environmental impact statement should be prepared for the new design for the UPF, the largest federal construction project in Tennessee since World War II. The plaintiffs allege that the NNSA’s decision to use several new buildings for the UPF, rather than just one, and continue to use some old buildings at Y-12 for some nuclear weapons work is risky because the old buildings could collapse during a major earthquake, possibly leading to a nuclear accident that could release radiological materials.
Federal officials denied that allegation and others in a 29-page response filed September 29. They’ve called some allegations vague, ambiguous, or speculative, and they have said that safety and technical analyses are under way at Y-12. Some buildings may require seismic upgrades, depending upon evaluation results, and an Extended Life Program is meant to ensure that two buildings—Building 9215 and Building 9204-2E—will safely support future operations, federal officials said. [Read more…]