NNSA, Y-12 Complete Transfer of Highly Enriched Uranium Ahead of Schedule

Press Release
Aug 23, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today announced that Y-12 National Security Complex has completed all five phases of the transfer of highly enriched uranium into the nation’s Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility (HEUMF) more than one month ahead of an already accelerated schedule.

HEUMF operations were authorized and loading began in January 2010. After a focused effort completed the first phase of loading from the former warehouse in 73 days, additional highly enriched uranium located in four processing areas at Y-12 was moved to HEUMF to provide more efficient and secure storage and to free valuable space for materials needed in manufacturing operations. 
HEUMF
“I applaud the work done by the men and women at Y-12 and their commitment to implementing President Obama’s nuclear security agenda,” said Don Cook, NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs. “Investments in facilities like HEUMF and our ability to consolidate highly enriched uranium are critical steps in our transition to a 21st century nuclear security enterprise.”

Approximately 68 percent of Y-12’s highly enriched uranium is now stored at HEUMF. This consolidation is a significant step toward shrinking the security footprint at the site. The Uranium Processing Facility, now in design, will be constructed next to HEUMF, and the two facilities will work together to accomplish all highly enriched uranium storage and processing operations in a centralized area. The remaining 32 percent of the highly enriched uranium inventory requires processing that will be accomplished over the next decade to support the reduced security footprint. 

“This is a significant milestone in consolidating highly enriched uranium at Y-12,” said Darrel Kohlhorst, president and general manager of B&W Y-12, which operates the site for the National Nuclear Security Administration. “The Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility is doing its job as one of the world’s most secure storage facilities and is ready to serve as the companion to the Uranium Processing Facility.”

The highly enriched uranium stored at HEUMF will be used for maintaining the U.S. nuclear deterrent and as a source of fuel for the Naval Reactors program. Other uses of the material include downblended fuel for commercial, research or medical isotope production reactors.

“We’re moving forward with our plans to transform a Cold War-era nuclear weapons complex into a 21st century nuclear security enterprise,” said Ted Sherry, NNSA’s Y-12 Site Office manager. “Reaching this goal is a key achievement.”

HEUMF is a large concrete structure with adjoining equipment and administrative areas. It provides storage capacity for 12,000 drums and 12,000 cans of material in specially designed storage racks.

B&W Y-12, a limited liability enterprise of The Babcock and Wilcox Company and Bechtel National Inc., was selected to operate the Y-12 National Security Complex for the NNSA in 2000. Y-12 maintains and enhances the safety, security, effectiveness, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and provides expertise and training to respond to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad. Visit http://www.y12.doe.gov/ for more information.

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Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation’s national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.

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