Y-12 getting some upgrades

By: Mike McCarthy
By: Mike McCarthy

Oak Ridge (WVLT) - The federal government plans to use Oak Ridge's Y-12 National Security Complex as the example for updating nuclear facilities across the country.

The National Nuclear Security Administration has take the first steps do that.

Volunteer TV's Mike McCarthy spoke with Y-12 officials and has more on why we need to upgrade.

The US federal government calls the country's nuclear weapons complex too old, too big, and too expensive. Y-12 will still store uranium. Now the complex says it'll be in smaller, safer, and state-of-the art buildings.

The Soup's on at the Soup Kitchen.

"We started with 35 seats now we're up to about 145 seats and growing steadily better each year," said Bob Bardoff from the Soup Kitchen.

And Y-12 workers have kept the knives busy.

"They're an important part of the community and an important part of our business," Bardoff said.

Now, the National Nuclear Security Administration's building on the future.

"They have determined that Y-12 is the preferred alternative for the uranium mission of the nuclear weapons complex of the future," said Tom Smith from Y-12 National Security Complex.

If NNSA follows through, that'll help secure the Oak Ridge complex's future. Its mission will stay same, and it'll also lead the way for updating eight nuclear weapons sites across the country.

"Y-12 will the be the model for transformation based on our plans to downsize, modernize, and build our highly enriched uranium materials facility and our uranium processing facility," Smith said.

Downsizing does means less workers.

"It'll be at least 10 years before we actually begin to see the work force go down based on that modernization," Smith said.

Smith says some lost workers will naturally retire. Their jobs won't be re-filled. Others could shift from production to tearing down older, Cold-War-dated buildings.

"A lot of the workers will actually move forward to that legacy facility demolition work," Smith said.

It's all part of keeping Y-12 from fading into history.

"The nuclear weapons stockpile is going down so we're downsizing to meet the mission of the future," Smith said.

That'll meet the money mission of the Soup Kitchen.

Right now Y-12's building its highly enriched uranium materials facility. That's scheduled to be done next August.

Y-12's proposed uranium processing facility is being designed. Construction on that is also scheduled to begin in 2008.

The definite future of Y-12 won't be decided until the end of next year.


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