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 »
MAY RETURN FOR HEALTH CARE VOTE
House Plans to Recess on Friday
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS
WILL TESTIFY WEDNESDAY
Manafort Subpoenaed by Judiciary Committee
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The Senate Judiciary Committee has subpoenaed Paul Manafort to appear publicly before the committee on Wednesday. Committee leaders Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) announced Tuesday that they had subpoenaed Manafort on Monday night."

Source:
IN PERSIAN GULF
US Navy Ship Fired Warning Shots at Iranian Boat
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"A US Navy ship fired warning shots at an armed Iranian patrol boat Tuesday in the northern end of the Persian Gulf, according to two US defense officials. The Iranian boat is believed to have been operated by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, according to a defense official familiar with details of the incident. The officials said the Iranian boat approached and came within 150 yards of the US ship." The Iranian boat didn't respond to warnings. Fearing collision, the Navy ship fired warning shots into the water and then the Iranian ship stopped, but lingered in the area.

Source:
CRUZ SHOOTS IT DOWN
Trump Floats Cruz for AG
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"President Trump and his advisers are privately discussing the possibility of replacing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and some confidants are floating prospects who could take his place were he to resign or be fired, according to people familiar with the talks." Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) is one prospect. But "in a statement released late Monday, Cruz said he is 'deeply gratified that we have a principled conservative like Jeff Sessions serving as Attorney General. The stories being reported in the media tonight are false. My focus is and will remain on fighting every day to defend 28 million Texans in the U.S. Senate.'"

Source:
DEMS OPPOSE $1.6 BILLION FOR WALL
Shutdown Odds Grow with Wall Funding
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS

"House Republicans this week are increasing the possibility of a government shutdown in October by moving forward with a $788 billion spending bill that complies with President Donald Trump’s demands to boost the military, reduce clean-energy programs and fund a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. Those priorities, especially $1.6 billion in wall funding, guarantee House and Senate Democratic leaders will oppose the bill. Trump has urged his Republican supporters in Congress to fight, saying in May that a 'good' shutdown may be needed to advance his agenda."

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