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Y-12 Removes Nuclear Materials from Two Facilities to Reduce Site’s Nuclear Footprint

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. -- The Y-12 National Security Complex has completed the removal of nuclear materials from two more facilities, significantly reducing its classified storage area and the cost of securing nuclear materials at the site.

The 613,642-square-foot Alpha 5 Building (also known as 9201-5) and the 7,700-square-foot 9720-38 storage facility no longer carry nuclear designations, resulting in significant cost savings for operations.

Shedding the nuclear facility status at Alpha 5 equals a savings of $220,000 annually in surveillance and maintenance expenditures alone. Add in the savings associated with utilities and environmental costs, and the benefit to taxpayers grows.

“This is an important milestone as we continue to transform NNSA’s Cold War-era nuclear weapons complex into a 21st century nuclear security enterprise,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Don Cook. “Congratulations to Y-12 on this achievement, which will result in permanent cost savings and reduce our nuclear footprint.”

Built in 1945 to house the calutrons that enriched uranium for the Manhattan Project, Alpha 5 played a central role in nuclear component production through the Cold War. Building 9720–38 was a classified storage area. Also, last year, the 313,771-square-foot Beta 4 building (also known as 9204-4) received its non-nuclear designation.

The collaborative work of B&W Y-12, the contractor operating the Y-12 National Security Complex for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and NNSA’s Y-12 Site Office to remove hazardous materials from the facilities resulted in the safety basis requirements being lifted. That means the building is no longer considered a nuclear facility.

“The effort to remove 555 metric tons of material from these facilities surpassed expectations and has been a tremendous success,” said Ted Sherry, manager of the NNSA’s Y-12 Site Office. “This task took a multi-disciplinary team of contractor personnel for a complex and difficult job well done well. Removal of nuclear materials in Alpha 5 is a major step toward the eventual cleanup, decontamination and decommissioning of the facility.”

“By eliminating the need for a safety basis for Alpha 5, we can accelerate cleanup and facilitate NNSA’s vision for Y 12 transformation,” said Darrel Kohlhorst, B&W Y-12 president and general manager. “This emphasis on Alpha 5 reduces operations risks at Y-12.”

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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 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; provides fuel for research reactors around the world and the production of medical isotopes; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.