Tag Archives: Oak Ridge

Oak Ridge plant to aid in redesign of nuke weapons parts

Associated Press, September 18, 2006
OAK RIDGE (AP) — The Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge is supporting a new Department of Energy initiative.
It would redesign nuclear weapons parts so they could more easily be made and maintained in the future.
The “Reliable Replacement Warhead” program is a departure from the current “life-extension program” that keeps aging nuclear weapons in a state of certified readiness by replacing old parts with new components of original design.
Under the Reliable Replacement Warhead concept, replacement parts would be redesigned to make them easier to manufacture with fewer environmentally dangerous materials and higher design margins that could eliminate the need for future nuclear testing.
The plant’s funding for the project so far is a modest $1.2 million, but the program is still in its infancy, with no hardware yet produced.

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Oak Ridge National Lab cited for beryllium exposure in Tennessee

EASYBOURSE ACTUALITE, SEPTEMBER 8, 2006
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP)–The Oak Ridge National Laboratory has been cited for allowing unprotected employees to move old machine shop equipment contaminated with potentially fatal beryllium dust from a building at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant complex.
“Individuals were allowed to enter and work in Building 9201-2 without protective equipment despite beryllium surface contamination” at levels up to 10 times higher than considered safe, the Department of Energy’s inspector general said in a report released Friday.
Despite the government’s major effort in recent years to track, treat and compensate sick nuclear weapons plant workers, including those exposed to beryllium, these employees “were not fully identified, formally notified (or) offered the option of a medical evaluation,” Inspector General Gregory Friedman wrote.
The report didn’t say how many employees were exposed or when they were exposed.
But the auditors wrote, “Management concurred with our recommendations and began implementing corrective actions.”
Officials with the lab’s managing contractor, the University of Tennessee-Battelle Memorial Institute, and the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge office didn’t immediately return calls for comment Friday.
Beryllium is a light but strong metal that has applications in many industries, including in nuclear weapons and nuclear reactors. Exposure can lead to chronic respiratory problems. Beryllium also is considered a probable human carcinogen.
The government has long recognized the consequences of beryllium exposure, though studies are continuing at Oak Ridge into why some people are more sensitive than others. The government has paid out about $1.5 billion to compensate sick nuclear weapons plant workers, many with chronic beryllium disease.
About 140 past and present Y-12 workers reportedly have been identified with beryllium sensitivity, an early stage of illness.
The equipment being moved was in a building within the giant Y-12 complex that has been managed by Oak Ridge National Laboratory since the 1950s. The equipment included lathes, milling machines, forklifts, hand tools and metal cabinets.
Beryllium contamination was detected in the building during an inventory in December 2001. However, the auditors, acting on a tip, found no warnings on the building during their investigation this April.
Employees, some with respirators and some without, began moving contaminated equipment from the building in late 2004. The equipment was taken to several uncontaminated locations, including two buildings on the lab’s campus, the lab’s new Spallation Neutron Source project and the East Tennessee Technology Park site of Theragenics Corp. (TGX), which makes radioactive implants to treat cancer patients.
The auditors said DOE managers reported only one piece of equipment wasn’t labeled before it was moved. But the auditors said an inspection of one of the buildings where the equipment was taken found none of the equipment labeled.
Some equipment had to be moved back to the original storage building at Y-12. Auditors said DOE wasted $27,000 moving the equipment and then sending it back.

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Second expansion of Oak Ridge landfill being prepared

ASSOCIATED PRESS, AUGUST 14, 2006
The Energy Department is planning a second expansion of a nuclear waste landfill at Oak Ridge.
It will bring waste capacity to 1.7 million cubic yards. That’s the maximum allowable under an agreement with environmental regulators.
A spokesman for the department’s environmental contractor says the design for a fifth cell is being completed now and will be submitted to regulators this month. If it’s approved, construction would begin late next year.
Though there’s adequate room for immediate needs in the current landfill, the dismantling of old uranium processing facilities is expected to result in 700-thousand cubic yards of junk with radioactive or chemical hazards. About 50 truckloads are expected to go to the landfill each day.

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Eight peace protestors arrested in Oak Ridge

VOLUNTEER TV, KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE, AUGUST 5, 2006
Few would deny that Oak Ridge stands as a symbol.
Birthplace of the Manhattan Project that ushered in nuclear warfare.
61 years later, home to our country’s only nuclear weapons facility.
This day, ground zero for those who believe it should close for good.

Volunteer TV’s Whitney Daniel, has more on what’s become a yearly ritual, a pilgrimage of principle.
“I have dreamed about Oak Ridge. I have hated it from the bottom of my heart. I have admired it for it’s technical advances,” said Phyllis Rodin.
Phyllis Rodin is 92-years-old. She’s been an activist against nuclear weapons making for years, but she’s never been to Oak Ridge.
“I came here because I had never been to this place where the monster was inaugurated… and that is here.”
“We’re very important to the National Security of the United States. We do very important work here in maitaining our nuclear deterrant,” said Steven Wyatt a Y-12 Representative.
That doesn’t settle well with these protestors who proclaim peace.
“It’s a whole contradiction of who we are and who we should be as a country so we want it to end,” said Fred Thelen, a protestor.
Most sent that message buy tying ribbons to the gate at Y-12… Some by drawing shadows on the roadway… representing those who died at Hiroshima 61 years ago.
“It’s inspirng to see people from all over coming from different backgrounds and for different reasons to join together in this really powerful struggle,” said Ingrid Johnson.
But not everyone thought so. Eight demonstrators took it one step futher as peacful protests led to their arrests for “civil disobediance” after police requested they leave the roadway. They refused, but went with police cooperatively and willingly.
This event happens each year… but so far their rallys haven’t brought any changes from the government… so what drives them to come back each year?
“The movement against slavery began as a small movement of people and it grew until slavery was abolished and we feel the same thing can happen and needs to happen with nuclear weapons,” said Thelen.
Events continue all week.
Sunday, August 6 – Names/Remembrance Ceremony 6:15 – 8:30 a.m. at Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Plant
Wednesday, August 9 – Peace Picket 6:15 – 9:30 a.m. at the Federal Building on Oak Ridge Turnpike.

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Protesters gather in Oak Ridge on anniversary of Hiroshima bomb

MELISSA DiPANE, WATE NEWS, KNOXVILLE, TENNESSEE, AUGUST 5, 2006
OAK RIDGE (WATE) — Peace activists assembled Saturday in Bissell Park in Oak Ridge to demonstrate against the continued production of atomic weapons.
This weekend marks the 51st anniversary of the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. Much of the work that went into producing the bomb was conducted in Oak Ridge.
In addition to protesting, the spent time reflecting on our past and present conflicts with other countries.
“We are still producing nuclear weapon materials today the kind of stuff we tell Iran and North Korea can’t do we are doing here this is where proliferation happens. We are calling attention to the double standard,” says Ralph Hutchison with the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance.
Hutchison’s group and many others came to spread their message of non-violence at the event.
Nancy Rickenbach came with the group SCOPE out of Sevierville.
She says the government spends too much money on weapons and could find a better way to spend it.
“I think it’s overkill and misuse of our resources that we could be using to help people to make american life better,” says Rickenbach.
Hutchison believes if the U.S. only took a non-violence stance, the rest of the world would follow.
“We led the arms race made the first bomb and our poloicy was to stay ahead of anyone else. The reality is the us also can be a leader in non proliferation and abolition of nuclear weapons

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