Oak Ridge Community Leaders Maintain Opposition to NNSA’s Push for Sole-Source Contract to Purify Highly Enriched Uranium

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. (February 2, 2021) – Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch announced today that the City remains opposed to a plan by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to contract with a third-party vendor to perform uranium purification offsite at a location 125 miles away from the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.

Mayor Gooch expressed strong concern about NNSA’s push to move the work outside the Oak Ridge region. 

“The U.S. Government has invested billions of taxpayers’ dollars to modernize the Y-12 National Security Complex, with the highest levels of safeguards and security in place. The logistics and costs that would be required to provide safe and secure mobile transfers of the weapons-related materials to/from an off-site facility would result in unnecessary risks to our community and region, and would be extremely costly to our taxpayers,” said Gooch. “The proposed contract is the result of an unsolicited proposal and would result in significant economic loss to the greater Oak Ridge/Knoxville region. Our highly trained and skilled work force at Y-12 cannot be replicated and should continue to perform this national security work at the federal government’s state-of-the-art facilities under construction at Y-12.  We appreciate Congressman Chuck Fleischmann’s leadership in opposing this flawed plan. We strongly urge all of our congressional leadership to oppose this move.”

On November 25, 2020, NNSA informed Oak Ridge community leaders that the agency intends to issue a sole-source contract to Nuclear Fuel Services (NFS) in Erwin, Tennessee. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) processing and storage has been performed at the Y-12 National Security Complex for decades and this contract would divert a significant process at significant estimated expenses to an area outside of the highly secured Y-12 environment used for uranium purification.

Mike Thompson, President of the Atomic Trades and Labor Council (ATLC), represents more than 1,400 skilled workers at Y-12 including machinists, welders, chemical operators and electricians.

“A decision of this magnitude should not be made during a transition to new leadership at the federal level and pending the selection of a new contractor at the Y-12 National Security Complex. Issuing a sole-source contract for work to be performed by a company that may be involved in bidding on the Y-12 contract appears to be ill-timed,” said Thompson. “As demonstrated during the COVID crisis, our workforce has adjusted to changing conditions, circumstances, and requirements to succeed under the current conditions. Our members can and will continue to perform urgent national security work that should remain at Y-12.”

According to the NNSA statement: “Pending the results of the Phase 1, NNSA will determine if a Phase 2 contract will be awarded for HEU processing. If Phase 2 is pursued, NFS will provide uranium purification and conversion services during the ‘bridge’ period until Y-12 begins its production phase.”

Earlier, the U.S. Congress expressed reservations about the plan.  Congress directed NNSA in its 2020 Appropriations Act to conduct an independent review of all options prior to beginning any work to convert uranium oxide to metal. The status of this review is unclear and not completed to the City’s knowledge. As stated in the 2021 Energy and Water Appropriations Act, “Concerns persist that the NNSA’s current plan is ahead of need and may not be the most efficient course of action. The agreement directs the NNSA to perform a business case analysis to include the capabilities of the national laboratories and plants to confirm the best value source is being used and to continue efforts to mature and deploy direct electrolytic reduction technology.”

About Brad Jones

Brad is the Owner/Operator of BBB TV 12, and has been with the company since August of 1996. Brad is a 1987 graduate of Coalfield High School and a 1995 graduate of the University of Tennessee College of Communications. He won the 1995 broadcast production student of the year award. Brad worked at Shop at Home, Inc. a home shopping network that was located in Knoxville, TN from 1993 - 1995 and then at Via TV (RSTV, Inc.) from 1995 - 1996. After some freelance work in Nashville, Brad joined the BBB Communications staff in August of 1996. A short stint at WVLT TV as a news photographer was in 2001, but he continued to work at BBB TV as well. Brad is married to Nicole Jenkins Jones, a 1990 graduate of Oak Ridge High School, who works at Oak Ridge Gastroenterology and Associates in Oak Ridge. They have 3 kids, Trevor Bogard, 27, Chandler 22, and Naomi 13. On December 12, 2013 they welcomed their first grandchild, Carter Ryan Bogard. Brad is also the assistant boys basketball coach at Coalfield High School for the past 11 years. In 2013-14 the Yellow Jackets won their first district title since 1991 and just the 4th in school history.

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