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  • A fresh approach to Los Alamos’ plutonium problem, ABQ JRNL, 4 Mar 2014
    and its radioactive risk have for decades complicated the nuclear weaponeers task of using and managing it The complexity requires extensive lab space to accompany its use in U S nuclear weapons Building facilities robust enough to protect against the radioactive danger makes such lab space extraordinarily expensive too expensive so far it seems for the federal government to carry out any of the increasingly costly incarnations of the CMR replacement idea first conceived more than three decades ago But how much plutonium infrastructure do we actually need Doing nothing Medalia argues entails costs and risks A small cadre of Los Alamos workers continues to spend its days working with dangerously radioactive plutonium in a building an independent 2009 review called genuinely decrepit Keeping a 1950s era building open while options are explored Medalia writes exposes workers to a relatively high risk of death in an earthquake But there are other options he writes that could alleviate that risk without the seemingly intractable problem of constructing entirely new buildings Among them according to Medalia is the option of moving some of the work that now so clogs Los Alamos National Laboratory s plutonium certified floor space to other nuclear facilities around the country including the Savannah River Site in South Carolina Idaho National Laboratory and Lawrence Livermore in California Existing buildings at Los Alamos especially the recently built Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building could be modified to handle more of the plutonium work that would otherwise fill any new building or buildings Importantly Medalia writes the rules could be changed to allow more plutonium in the newly built radiological laboratory Medalia also evaluates more traditional options including a number of proposals to construct large new buildings But perhaps more important than the specific options Medalia outlines is the process he

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2014/ABQJRNL_4Mar2014a.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Administration plutonium strategy: no new construction at Los Alamos for now, ABQ JRNL, 4 Mar 2014
    Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs After the Obama administration s 2012 decision to halt work on a multi billion dollar plutonium laboratory at Los Alamos because of cost overruns and schedule delays the lab and federal officials have been working on an alternative strategy that includes smaller modular buildings each tailored to a specific task But there will be no request for money in the administration s FY2015 request to launch that project Cook said Instead the agency has developed a phased approach The first phase will use an existing building with some new equipment the Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building with new rules allowing more plutonium to be used there Cook said during a Tuesday telephone news conference The second phase involves removing old equipment in a second existing building the lab s 1970s era Plutonium Facility also known as PF 4 The equipment used for nitric and hydrochloric acid processing of plutonium is no longer needed Cook said Money for that work will be requested in 2016 according to Cook Only after that is done will the lab and NNSA begin pursuing their modular strategy The modules are part of the third phase and until we know how

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2014/ABQJRNL_4Mar2014.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Existing facilities could be option for further plutonium work, LA Monitor, 25 Feb 2014
    the idea of using existing facilities is nothing new and the lab actually has been doing that very thing RLUOB has 19 500 square feet of lab space plus office space But as a Radiological Facility it is permitted to hold 38 6 grams plutonium Pu 239E WGPu weapons grade plutonium is more radioactive than pure Pu 239 The utility basement and the laboratory floor above it are made of heavily reinforced concrete while the office floors are built to the standards of an emergency response building like a fire station so RLUOB is much more seismically robust than CMR Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Building LANL estimates the cost of moving AC and related work from CMR to RLUOB and PF 4 to be 800 million he said There are at least three options for RLUOB One is to use it as is for analytical chemistry AC The catch is that as a Radiological Facility 26 grams of WGPu is nowhere near the 500 to 1 000 grams needed for the AC to support 80 pits per year ppy A second option is to convert RLUOB to Hazard Category 3 This would involve lots of studies and Los Alamos listed about 100 of them according to Medalia Some of these studies could lead to physical modifications of RLUOB Medalia said this option may be feasible though it is unclear if conducting studies and retrofitting modifications would be less expensive than building a new RLUOB minus the office floors A third option is RLUOB with regulatory relief The reason for high building standards and limits on radioactive material is to keep the radiation dose to workers and the public in an accident below DOE guidelines Medalia said that LANL calculated the dose if RLUOB with 1 000 grams of WGPu collapsed

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2014/LAMonitor_25Feb2014.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Washington expert thinks outside the box, LA Monitor, 22 Feb 2014
    relatively modest cost and schedule with minimal environmental impact or by using new smaller less costly buildings Medalia then got talking about the Los Alamos National Laboratory where pit production is done in PF 4 which opened in 1978 It has a foundry and other equipment for making pits It also houses other plutonium projects such as a Pu 238 line the ARIES line for turning pits into plutonium oxide a line for recovering plutonium from nitric acid solution plutonium R D and some AC Most AC is done in the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Building CMR operational since 1952 One report called it genuinely decrepit another called it structurally unsound It is seismically fragile The National Nuclear Security Administration NNSA wants to exit CMR by 2019 Then Medalia discussed two pit production options One would use new buildings called modules the other would use existing buildings There are no unclassified sketches of a module Modules would be reinforced concrete structures for such high MAR tasks as pit fabrication and Pu 238 work They offer several potential advantages Large buildings have been rejected repeatedly modules would be smaller less costly and more likely to receive support Indeed Congress authorized NNSA to pursue this strategy in the FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act Each module would be designed for a single task so would not have to meet regulatory requirements imposed by other tasks On the other hand there are questions about the need for modules given other options whether they are needed now and how much they would cost Note that even if a pit foundry and Pu 238 work were moved into modules space would still be needed outside of PF 4 for AC because it would be very difficult to reconfigure PF 4 to perform most types of AC

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2014/LAMonitor_22Feb2014.html (2016-02-16)
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  • UPF to be built outside PIDAS, knoxblogs.com, 23 Apr 2015
    shrink the size of the Protected Area and relocate the Perimeter Intrusion Detection and Assessment System fencing as part the multibillion dollar Uranium Processing Facility That project known as WEPAR West End Protected Area Reduction was cancelled NNSA Production Office spokesman Steven Wyatt this week indicated that construction of the UPF would be completed outside the PIDAS It s obvious that at some point the high security perimeter fencing will

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2015/knox-blogs_23Apr2015.html (2016-02-16)
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  • First Glimpse of Revamped UPF Provided by Contractor, NSDM, 21 Nov 2014
    the highest safety and security requirements Now only the Main Process Building will be built to those standards So by tailoring requirements we re able to lower the overall costs of the facility Reilly said He also said the approach will allow the project to be more efficient both during design and construction It opens up a number of different work fronts he said In construction we can work on multiple buildings in parallel and it even opens up work front in the engineering phase because on a project this complex you re going to hit barriers you re going to hit hurdles big challenges to what you re trying to do We re going to be able to redirect our workforce and put them on other pieces and parts of the project because there is a little bit of independence between the work activities of the buildings New Approach Can Provide More Subcontracting Opportunities Splitting the project into small buildings is also likely to mean more opportunities for subcontractors to build pieces of the facility While the Main Process Building will be poured concrete the other two main buildings are likely to be made of structural steel UPF Procurement Manager Rich Brown said at the meeting We re looking for contractors who can actually do a build of each of these buildings we re looking at them as separate contracts he said Because of this layout we now have this is work we can accelerate so we re looking at early contracting opportunities here It s Going to Come Like a Freight Train In all Brown said project officials were expecting to use 10 000 tons of rebar 2 million pounds of embed plates 17 000 tons of structural steel 500 000 square feet of fireproofing 60 000 feet

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2014/NSDM_21Nov2014.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Y-12: Poster child for a dysfunctional nuclear weapons complex, BAS, Alvarez, 4 Aug 2014
    radiation and chemical exposure to workers and the public buildings mostly constructed in the 1940 s had deteriorated and had insufficient or non existent fire protection systems despite the very real possibility of a truly catastrophic fire and resulting release of radiation It wasn t until 14 years later that a replacement facility for the aged wooden structure serving as the main HEU storage warehouse was opened it cost five times the original construction estimate That facility gained notoriety in August 2012 after nonviolent peace protestors including an 84 year old nun penetrated its security barriers Making matters worse there was a backlog of more than 100 tons of combustible in process materials that had accumulated in virtually every building Containers holding unstable and flamable forms of HEU sat for decades in hallways narrow production aisles and in process lines Inspectors found that the site s overall safety plan often does not contain such fundamental information as the physical forms storage configurations or inventories of HEU assumed to be present in the facilities and therefore were not evaluated for potential releases during major accident scenarios And more than 60 percent of the many thousands of containers holding HEU had never been opened and lacked documentation as to what was inside To its credit the Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board has played an important role over the past 20 years in improving safety at Y 12 and continues to pressure the NNSA to come to terms with problems there Several improvements have been made particularly regarding the removal of unstable nuclear material from deteriorated structures safer packaging of nuclear materials upgrading fire protection and establishing a formalized safety culture But these improvements haven t come close to eliminating Y 12 s many security environmental and budgetary problems Between 2006 and 2011 remote controlled equipment meant to protect workers from inhaling uranium failed in Building 9212 For five years kneeling workers had to load uranium oxide by hand into canisters while wearing respirators From 1997 to 2006 there were 21 fires and explosions at Y 12 involving electrical equipment glove boxes pumps waste containers and nuclear and hazardous chemicals Several resulted in worker injuries and destruction of property After the 1994 shutdown of Building 9212 it took 12 years for uranium processing operations to restart there The cost of resuming operations was more than 500 million five times the original estimate The facility has yet to achieve an adequate capacity to process the backlog of unstable materials and produce purified HEU An inability to downsize Although the end of the Cold War has eliminated much of Y 12 s bomb manufacturing mission attempts to downsize by eliminating ancient excess infrastructure have largely been unsuccessful More than half of the Y 12 s structures were built in the 1940s Several buildings have been shuttered for years and are seriously deteriorated Years of leaking roofs have created chronic safety problems including standing water in fissile material storage areas and water accumulation near electric control

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/UPF/Alvarez_Y-12_4Aug2014.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Jobs in flux, knoxblogs.com, 5 May 2014
    at least not those who work directly for the managing and operating contractor B W Y 12 until CNS takes over fully responsibility on July 1 B W is carrying out a Voluntary Separation Program that s supposed to help right size the workforce at Y 12 based on the staffing requirements that CNS submitted to the National Nuclear Security Administration Initially the plan is to eliminate only about 140 positions at Y 12 That s out of the 4 300 people currently employed at the Oak Ridge plant The numbers are even smaller at Pantex where 30 jobs out of about 3 100 total are being eliminated to meet the workforce levels that CNS believes are needed to carry out the national security missions These job cuts won t necessarily be the last ones as CNS moves into the new management role and looks for additional ways to hone operations and save taxpayer dollars Meanwhile other jobs have also been impacted recently or may soon be For instance about 100 members of the Uranium Processing Facility design team were let go within the past month or so reducing the size of the project staff to about 820 Some of these reductions were made necessary as the future of the UPF project is being reevaluated and may result in significant design changes While the design team was reduced it s believed that most of the employees who departed were able to return to jobs with their home companies that have been contracting on the UPF Of course if and when construction of new uranium processing facilities at Y 12 begins in earnest perhaps a year or two down the road there could be a lot of jobs construction and otherwise created by the big project But for now some of

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2014/knoxblogs_5May2014.html (2016-02-16)
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