U.S. Senator to Press for Disclosure of Uranium Processing Proposal

Workers at the Y-12 National Security Complex in 2011 clean out a building slated for demolition. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) indicated he plans to press the Obama administration to publicly release details on a plan being developed as an alternative to a uranium-processing project planned at the Y-12 site.
National Journal
Diane Barnes
Add to Briefcase
Diane Barnes
April 3, 2014, 10:07 a.m.

A key U.S. sen­at­or plans to press Obama of­fi­cials to cir­cu­late de­tails on a weapon-urani­um pro­cessing plan de­vised by a spe­cially con­vened “Red Team.”

A spokes­man said Sen­at­or Lamar Al­ex­an­der (R-Tenn.) will call on U.S. nuc­le­ar-arms man­agers to air “as much in­form­a­tion as pos­sible” on the draft pro­pos­al, which ex­perts are de­vel­op­ing as an al­tern­at­ive to a mult­i­bil­lion-dol­lar urani­um com­plex planned in his state.

The “Red Team” began its re­view at the Y-12 Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Com­plex last month. In pri­or years, ef­forts to plan a new Urani­um Pro­cessing Fa­cil­ity at the Oak Ridge site have hit nu­mer­ous delays and cost over­runs.

“Sen­at­or Al­ex­an­der wants to see the Urani­um Pro­cessing Fa­cil­ity com­pleted un­der budget and on time,” spokes­man Jim Jef­fries told Glob­al Se­cur­ity News­wire in an e-mailed re­sponse to ques­tions.

“He plans to par­ti­cip­ate in an April 30 budget hear­ing that will be open to the pub­lic, and he will en­cour­age the Na­tion­al Nuc­le­ar Se­cur­ity Ad­min­is­tra­tion to pub­licly re­lease as much in­form­a­tion as pos­sible on the Red Team re­view without un­der­min­ing na­tion­al se­cur­ity.”

Al­ex­an­der’s of­fice is­sued the com­ments after a watch­dog group in his state voiced con­cerns about the “secrecy” of the Red Team’s work.

“When the secret Red Team com­pletes its re­view, the res­ults of that re­view must be made pub­lic,” Ral­ph Hutchis­on, co­ordin­at­or of the Oak Ridge En­vir­on­ment­al Peace Al­li­ance, told the law­maker in a Tues­day let­ter.

The Red Team re­portedly plans in com­ing weeks to re­vise its al­tern­at­ive plan for re­lo­cat­ing bomb-urani­um activ­it­ies from a 1940s-era struc­ture. Upon com­ple­tion, the pre­lim­in­ary pro­pos­al would go to NNSA Act­ing Ad­min­is­trat­or Bruce Held for con­sid­er­a­tion.

Ini­tial En­ergy De­part­ment es­tim­ates were for the Urani­um Pro­cessing Fa­cil­ity to be built for no more than $1.1 bil­lion. But the cost pro­jec­tions have grown more than six­fold, with some fore­cast­ing that the total could hit nearly $20 bil­lion if the ori­gin­al plans were to go for­ward.

Hutchis­on said fur­ther scru­tiny of the al­tern­at­ive urani­um plan may be ne­ces­sary to de­term­ine its en­vir­on­ment­al im­pact. However, he sug­ges­ted that Held’s agency — a semi-in­de­pend­ent En­ergy De­part­ment of­fice in charge of U.S. nuc­le­ar-weapons op­er­a­tions — would likely ar­gue that the pro­pos­al is covered un­der the Y-12 fa­cil­ity’s ex­ist­ing site-wide en­vir­on­ment­al im­pact state­ment.

“The pub­lic must be con­sul­ted in a mean­ing­ful way in plan­ning for sig­ni­fic­ant gov­ern­ment ac­tions,” Hutchis­on wrote in the let­ter, first re­por­ted by the Knoxville News Sen­tinel. “It’s not just that the pub­lic is more will­ing to buy-in if it feels in­cluded — it is that the de­cisions fi­nally made are bet­ter de­cisions.”

What We're Following See More »
IRANIANS CAME WITHIN 1,000 METERS
U.S. Navy Vessel Fired Flare at Iranian Boat on Monday
1 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

"A U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer fired a warning flare toward an Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessel coming near it in the Persian Gulf. The incident happened Monday as the vessel closed to within 1,000 meters of the USS Mahan, "despite the destroyer trying to turn away from it." After attempting to contact the Iranian vessel and sounding its whistle, it deployed the flare. After that, the ship had had enough and turned away.

Source:
ON SANCTUARY CITIES
White House Attacks Judge Who Suspended Executive Order
28 minutes ago
THE DETAILS

U.S. District Judge William Orrick Tuesday blocked the Trump administration from enforcing part of an executive order calling for the end of federal funding to so-called sanctuary cities. The decision was followed by a scathing rebuke from the White House, a precedent-breaking activity which with this White House has had no qualms. A White House statement called the decision an "egregious overreach by a single, unelected district judge." The statement was followed by an inaccurate Wednesday morning tweetstorm from Trump, which railed against the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. While Judge Orrick's district falls within the jurisdiction of the Ninth Circuit, Orrick himself does not serve on the Ninth Circuit.

MAY BRING CONSERVATIVES ON BOARD, BUT WHAT ABOUT MODERATES?
House GOP Circulates Amendment on Preexisting Conditions
3 hours ago
THE LATEST

"House Republicans are circulating the text of an amendment to their ObamaCare replacement bill that they believe could bring many conservatives on board. According to legislative text of the amendment," drafted by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), "the measure would allow states to apply for waivers to repeal one of ObamaCare’s core protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Conservatives argue the provision drives up premiums for healthy people, but Democrats—and many more moderate Republicans—warn it would spark a return to the days when insurance companies could charge sick people exorbitantly high premiums."

AT LEAST 30 TO BE ASSESSED
Trump to Order Review of National Monuments
3 hours ago
THE DETAILS

President Trump on Wednesday "will order a review of national monuments created over the past 20 years with an aim toward rescinding or resizing some of them—part of a broader push to reopen areas to drilling, mining, and other development." Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke told reporters on Tuesday said he'd be reviewing about 30 monuments.

Source:
EMERGING BUDGET FRAMEWORK?
Dems Proposes Obamacare-for-Defense Deal
19 hours ago
THE LATEST

"An emerging government funding deal would see Democrats agree to $15 billion in additional military funding in exchange for the GOP agreeing to fund healthcare subsidies, according to two congressional officials briefed on the talks. Facing a Friday deadline to pass a spending bill and avert a shutdown, Democrats are willing to go halfway to President Trump’s initial request of $30 billion in supplemental military funding."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login