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Tuesday, February 14, 2012

UPF tops Oak Ridge budget news

CMRR and UPF from the Oak Ridge media's Frank Munger's Atomic City Underground

Anonymously contributed:

February 13, 2012

UPF tops Oak Ridge budget news

The Obama administration has amped up support for a new production facility at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, proposing to boost funding in a big way and accelerate construction of the multibillion-dollar project.

In the Fiscal Year 2013 budget request released today, the National Nuclear Security Administration seeks $340 million to jump-start construction of the Uranium Processing Facility. That's more than double this year's funding level on the Oak Ridge project and up significantly from an earlier plan to request $190 million for UPF in FY 2013, which begins Oct. 1....

The UPF currently is in the latter stages of design, with construction scheduled to start by year's end. The project is estimated to cost between $4.2 billion and $6.5 billion.

Ramping up UPF comes as NNSA announced its intent to defer construction of a similarly sized project at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Federal officials cited the increasingly deteriorated state of weapons-making facilities at Oak Ridge for making UPF a priority. Parts of Building 9212, Y-12's hub for processing bomb-grade uranium and manufacturing warhead parts, date back to the World War II Manhattan Project.

Tom D'Agostino, under secretary of energy and administrator of the NNSA, and his deputy, Don Cook, cited the tough fiscal climate in the United States and said it was not a good time to push two high-dollar projects at the same time. Detailed reviews concluded that the need for the Uranium Processing Facility was more urgent than the proposed Los Alamos facility -- known as the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement -- for plutonium work

The proposal announced Monday would defer CMRR work at least five years, but D'Agostino emphasized in a teleconference with news reporters that the government is not killing the project....

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CMRR vs. UPF

A major topic at today's media teleconference with NNSA officials on the FY 2013 budget request was the decision to defer work on the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement project at Los Alamos while adding emphasis (and money) to the Uranium Processing Center at Y-12.

Don Cook, the National Nuclear Security Administration's deputy administrator for defense programs, said, "I'd say the choice we made was a hard fiscal choice." In effect, it put the work on uranium ahead of the work on plutonium, but it was forced by the situation at Y-12, he said.

"We don't have any option not to get out of 9212 (the main production facility at Y-12)," Cook said. "That building is used up, and that's where we make components for nuclear weapons."

While there were important reasons for building CMRR, the actual plutonium pits were being made in another facility, he noted.

The impression left from the conference today is that NNSA may relook the whole Los Alamos situation and possibly come up with a combo facility or something in that future realm to do the fabrication work with plutonium and the research with materials, etc.

What's notably interesting is that a review just a couple of year ago concluded that if the government were forced to make a choice on which should come first, CMRR or UPF, the conclusion was that CMRR was the higher priority.

Is the big change in decisionmaking simply a recognition that 9212 is in sad, sad shape? If so, then Y-12 folks have done a terrific job in repeatedly sharing that news with every visitors to the Oak Ridge plant and making it known in every way available.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

There have been at least 30 independent news reports throughout the United Stated on this decision. LANS has not yet acknowledged the decision, let alone reported this decision to LANS employees. Employees are all still in the dark and literally in suspense as to the implications. Another example of how poorly LANS communicates information to it's employees.

Anonymous said...

It's was interesting to listen to all of New Mexico's Republican Senators and Congressman pointing fingers at Obama yesterday and the Democrats blaming the Republicans on this decision. They all behaved like they were blindsided beyond recognition. This decision is turning into a massive embarrassment with everyone "seeking cover". It was American politics at is finest! LANS remains mum and dumb on the decision, however, it's becoming clear that LANS "threw in the towel" by giving NNSA substantial data that CMRR was not required. The question remains, why, it can't be possibly be due to a lack of or inept leadership at LANS?

Anonymous said...

Did I hear Obama kicked the CMRR "can" 5-years down the road? Humm, let's see, if Obama get's re-elected it'll will be just in time for the next President in 2017 to kick-it another 5-years down the road and so on....

Anonymous said...

@February 15, 2012 12:03 AM,

Not true. CMRR managers met with their employees at 8:30 am Tuesday. In the afternoon, Charlie McMillan sent an all-employee memo.

Check your email. Or maybe you'd already left work by 3:30?

Anonymous said...

@February 15, 2012 7:50 AM,

Thanks for that tidbit from the LANS communications office.

Anonymous said...

@8:09,

How is that relevant to correcting the record? Plenty of real issues to debate here without wasting time on falsehoods.

Anonymous said...

Tennessee has TWO REPUBLICAN Senators, Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker.

New Mexico has TWO DEMOCRATIC Senators, Jeff Bingamin and Tom Udall.

The president is a DEMOCRAT yet these two yahoos from New Mexico seem to have absolutely no pull with the president. They seem completely clueless about what was going to occur with CMRR.

Remember this fiasco when the 2012 election comes around, Northern New Mexicans.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget about Representative Ben Ray Lujan. His announcement following the CMRR debacle was something like, "I will continue the fight for LANL and National Defense". Hello Ben Ray, the pooch got screwed already. As to how this guy got voted into office is a greater mystery than life itself.

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see if the loyal Democrats of the Espanola Valley are willing to support their party and president after he's laid many of them off with this sudden decision on CMRR.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Ben Ray will have opposition soon? Maybe Wallace will run for office?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Ben Ray will have opposition soon? Maybe Wallace will run for office?

February 18, 2012 9:50 AM

If your speaking of Terry Wallace, I hear Knapp would love to get rid of this guy (Wallace) to clear his (Knapp) way the the Director. If this happens, sure, why not?

Anonymous said...

As to how this guy got voted into office is a greater mystery than life itself.

February 17, 2012 2:59 PM

Two words: "His Daddy".

Anonymous said...

'If your speaking of Terry Wallace, I hear Knapp would love to get rid of this guy (Wallace) to clear his (Knapp) way the the Director.'

Want to share some of the Kool-Aid? Wallace is no more of a threat to Knapp than he was to McMillan.

Anonymous said...

Want to share some of the Kool-Aid? Wallace is no more of a threat to Knapp than he was to McMillan.

February 19, 2012 10:40 AM

Wrong. Wallace is more of a threat to Knapp since Knapp can't begin to compete with even Wallace's meager academic credentials. Mcmillan won that contest handily.

Anonymous said...

One would think that Lab Directors are selected somewhat based on their own merits and not by taking out their competition. Wallace has moved upward since he came to LANL by attacking others. Hey, if it works, stick with it.

Anonymous said...

One would think that Lab Directors are selected somewhat based on their own merits and not by taking out their competition.

February 19, 2012 6:18 PM

One would be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Sheesh............

And here all this time people at LLNL wonder how the C students wind up at the top at LANL. Mystery solved, just knife the competition until there is only one left standing.

That bit of news ought to let them sleep better tonight in Moscow, ...and Beijing, ...and Tehran, ...and Pyongyang

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