Team Closes In on New Plan for Processing U.S. Bomb-Usable Uranium

Global Security Newswire Staff
Add to Briefcase
Global Security Newswire Staff
April 1, 2014, 8:35 a.m.

A key of­fi­cial said his team has reached “strong con­sensus” on a po­ten­tial sub­sti­tute for a planned bomb-urani­um plant, the Knoxville News Sen­tinel re­ports.

Oak Ridge Na­tion­al Labor­at­ory Dir­ect­or Thom Ma­son said his “Red Team” of roughly two dozen spe­cial­ists would put for­ward a single al­tern­ate pro­pos­al for hous­ing op­er­a­tions now slated for trans­fer to the still-un­built Urani­um Pro­cessing Fa­cil­ity, or “UPF” for short.

“Now wheth­er or not it’s bet­ter, that will be the judg­ment of the [Na­tion­al Nuc­le­ar Se­cur­ity Ad­min­is­tra­tion],” he told the News Sen­tinel on Monday. The urani­um plant has been slated for con­struc­tion at the Y-12 Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Com­plex in Ten­ness­ee, but the site’s pro­jec­ted price tag has ris­en dra­mat­ic­ally over the atom­ic agency’s ini­tial es­tim­ate from a dec­ade ago.

“The UPF concept had a lot of at­tract­ive op­tions in terms of the max­im­um con­sol­id­a­tion [of urani­um op­er­a­tions], min­im­um foot­print, op­er­a­tion­al flex­ib­il­ity from get­ting everything in one fa­cil­ity. And, in some of those di­men­sions, al­most any­thing else is go­ing to be less op­tim­um,” Ma­son said.

He ad­ded, though, that his group saw a need for “ur­gency” in mov­ing sens­it­ive bomb-pro­cessing op­er­a­tions out of the Y-12 fa­cil­ity’s aging “9212” build­ing, where they risk delays if the site en­coun­ters prob­lems. Ma­son’s team is ex­pec­ted to present a pro­pos­al that could be ex­ecuted by 2025, at a cost not ex­ceed­ing $6.5 bil­lion.

“Part of the chal­lenge with the UPF as it’s cur­rently con­figured is it’s large and ex­pens­ive. Be­cause of that, it takes a long time. You have to keep in the [ex­ist­ing fa­cil­it­ies] for longer than you like,” Ma­son said.

The of­fi­cial said his group would spend the com­ing two weeks pre­par­ing a sum­mary of its pro­pos­al for sub­mis­sion to NNSA Act­ing Ad­min­is­trat­or Bruce Held. He stressed that fur­ther work would be ne­ces­sary to flesh out the find­ings.

What We're Following See More »
CAN’T NAME ONE WORLD LEADER
Gary Johnson Stumbles Again
55 minutes ago
WHY WE CARE
GOES TO PRESIDENT
Senate Approves Bill to Preserve Rape Kits
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The Senate on Wednesday approved legislation ensuring sexual assault survivors in federal criminal cases have access to forensic evidence collection kits, sending the bill to President Obama's desk. The legislation, known as the Survivors’ Bill of Rights Act, was passed by unanimous consent as lawmakers prepare to leave Washington until after the election. The House passed the measure earlier this month."

Source:
2-MONTH GIG OR 8-YEAR GIG?
Alec Baldwin to Play Trump on ‘SNL’
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS
STRIKES DOWN NEW HAMPSHIRE BAN
Court: Selfies in Voting Booth Now OK
4 hours ago
WHY WE CARE
WILL LEAD U.S. DELEGATION
Obama to Travel to Israel for Peres’s Funeral
5 hours ago
THE DETAILS
×