Watchdog Agency: Uranium-Processing Safety Technology Flunks Trials

Global Security Newswire Staff
April 21, 2014, 8:56 a.m.

Con­gres­sion­al aud­it­ors said a planned safety com­pon­ent for pro­cessing highly en­riched urani­um failed in re­cent tri­als, the Knoxville News Sen­tinel re­ports.

The still-un­built Urani­um Pro­cessing Fa­cil­ity, or “UPF” for short, was ex­pec­ted to use an in­su­lat­ing ma­ter­i­al in cast­ing op­er­a­tions. However, pro­ject par­ti­cipants are now look­ing to find either an al­tern­at­ive in­su­lat­or or an­oth­er means of meet­ing the as­so­ci­ated safety re­quire­ment, ac­cord­ing to a Gov­ern­ment Ac­count­ab­il­ity Of­fice re­port pub­lished on Fri­day.

“Ac­cord­ing to UPF con­tract­or rep­res­ent­at­ives, this risk is now the pro­ject’s most sig­ni­fic­ant tech­no­lo­gic­al risk,” GAO of­fi­cials said of the com­pon­ent, which was in­ten­ded for use at a site tent­at­ively slated for con­struc­tion at the Y-12 Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Com­plex in Ten­ness­ee.

The re­port airs sep­ar­ate con­cerns about a mi­crowave urani­um-cast­ing sys­tem it says has not been ad­equately tested. It also says budget­ing choices res­ul­ted in sev­en out of 19 key tech­no­logy pro­jects be­ing un­fun­ded in fisc­al 2014.

The En­ergy De­part­ment’s Na­tion­al Nuc­le­ar Se­cur­ity Ad­min­is­tra­tion is re­spond­ing to three of the as­sess­ment’s five con­cerns, and forth­com­ing ac­tions might ad­dress the re­main­ing is­sues, ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­ment.

GAO aud­it­ors said the tech­no­logy con­cerns could re­main im­port­ant even if poli­cy­makers de­cide to pur­sue an­oth­er pro­ject in the urani­um site’s place. Of­fi­cials began ex­amin­ing oth­er op­tions for meet­ing the Y-12 fa­cil­ity’s urani­um needs after UPF pre­par­a­tions hit nu­mer­ous sched­ule and cost over­runs.

Of­fi­cials at the semi-autonom­ous nuc­le­ar agency are “ree­valu­at­ing the UPF pro­ject and may de­cide to con­struct a fa­cil­ity that is smal­ler and con­tains only se­lect en­riched urani­um-pro­cessing cap­ab­il­it­ies,” the con­gres­sion­al watch­dog or­gan­iz­a­tion wrote.

“Wheth­er NNSA con­tin­ues with the UPF pro­ject or chooses to un­der­take a smal­ler pro­ject, the fa­cil­ity will likely cost bil­lions of dol­lars, and its abil­ity to meet crit­ic­al na­tion­al se­cur­ity needs will de­pend on suc­cess­ful de­vel­op­ment and de­ploy­ment of new tech­no­lo­gies,” the GAO re­port states.

What We're Following See More »
LEGACY PLAY
Sanders and Clinton Spar Over … President Obama
3 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

President Obama became a surprise topic of contention toward the end of the Democratic debate, as Hillary Clinton reminded viewers that Sanders had challenged the progressive bona fides of President Obama in 2011 and suggested that someone might challenge him from the left. “The kind of criticism that we’ve heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans, I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama,” she said. “Madame Secretary, that is a low blow,” replied Sanders, before getting in another dig during his closing statement: “One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.”

THE 1%
Sanders’s Appeals to Minorities Still Filtered Through Wall Street Talk
5 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

It’s all about the 1% and Wall Street versus everyone else for Bernie Sanders—even when he’s talking about race relations. Like Hillary Clinton, he needs to appeal to African-American and Hispanic voters in coming states, but he insists on doing so through his lens of class warfare. When he got a question from the moderators about the plight of black America, he noted that during the great recession, African Americans “lost half their wealth,” and “instead of tax breaks for billionaires,” a Sanders presidency would deliver jobs for kids. On the very next question, he downplayed the role of race in inequality, saying, “It’s a racial issue, but it’s also a general economic issue.”

DIRECT APPEAL TO MINORITIES, WOMEN
Clinton Already Pivoting Her Messaging
5 hours ago
WHY WE CARE

It’s been said in just about every news story since New Hampshire: the primaries are headed to states where Hillary Clinton will do well among minority voters. Leaving nothing to chance, she underscored that point in her opening statement in the Milwaukee debate tonight, saying more needs to be done to help “African Americans who face discrimination in the job market” and immigrant families. She also made an explicit reference to “equal pay for women’s work.” Those boxes she’s checking are no coincidence: if she wins women, blacks and Hispanics, she wins the nomination.

THE QUESTION
How Many Jobs Would Be Lost Under Bernie Sanders’s Single-Payer System?
13 hours ago
THE ANSWER

More than 11 million, according to Manhattan Institute fellow Yevgeniy Feyman, writing in RealClearPolicy.

Source:
WEEKEND DATA DUMP
State to Release 550 More Clinton Emails on Saturday
13 hours ago
THE LATEST

Under pressure from a judge, the State Department will release about 550 of Hillary Clinton’s emails—“roughly 14 percent of the 3,700 remaining Clinton emails—on Saturday, in the middle of the Presidents Day holiday weekend.” All of the emails were supposed to have been released last month. Related: State subpoenaed the Clinton Foundation last year, which brings the total number of current Clinton investigations to four, says the Daily Caller.

Source:
×