NNSA awards uranium-purification contract to firm in Erwin over local objections

The U.S. Department of Energy announced that it has awarded a contract to purify uranium away from Y-12 National Security Complex, a move that has been opposed by city leaders in Oak Ridge.

That contract was given to Nuclear Fuel Services in Erwin, Tennessee. In a press release you can read on our website, the National Nuclear Security Administration said the move is a part of a strategy to allow for efficiency and safety upgrades for the processes at Y-12 while continuing to meet the needs of the Department of Defense and the nation.

Some of the facilities, equipment and processes used at Y-12 are more than 70 years old, according to the NNSA, which insists that no jobs will be lost at Y-12.

Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch has previously described the move as “unsettling,”saying that it is happening under a new administration,and while a new Y-12 contractor is being selected, as we reported last week.

(NNSA press release) As part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration’s (DOE/NNSA) efforts to modernize capabilities and facilities at the Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12), on Feb. 26, 2021, DOE/NNSA awarded a $57.5 million Phase 1 contract to Nuclear Fuel Services (NFS) for the design and pilot demonstration of highly enriched uranium (HEU) conversion and purification services.

This contract serves as a bridging strategy to enable Y-12 to develop and implement more modern technologies with improved efficiency and safety to carry out this mission for the long-term.  This contract with NFS will result in no reduction in workforce at Y-12.

NNSA is modernizing facilities, equipment, and processes used at Y-12 to recycle and recover HEU, some of which are over 70 years old and in need of replacement, while pursuing this bridging strategy with NFS, ensuring it will continue to meet the needs of the Department of Defense and the Nation.  

Pending the results of this Phase 1 contract with NFS, NNSA will determine if a follow-on, Phase 2 contract will be awarded. If Phase 2 is pursued, NFS would provide uranium purification and conversion services to bridge the capability gap until Y-12 implements its new capabilities.

NNSA has maintained close communication with Congress and Tennessee Representative Chuck Fleischmann’s office in the development and execution of this bridging strategy, especially in ensuring that Y-12 will not see a reduction in workforce related to this action.

NNSA remains fully committed to Y-12 as the Nation’s Uranium Center of Excellence, as evidenced by continued increasing investments including this year’s funding of over $2 billion for national security programs on the campus.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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