Knoxville News Sentinel: Sen. Alexander: Uranium Processing Facility construction on time, under $6.5B budget

Posted on June 15, 2017

Y-12's Uranium Processing Facility construction is on time and under budget, Sen. Lamar Alexander said Wednesday in a hearing on President Donald Trump's proposed 2018 budget for the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The NNSA is an agency within the Department of Energy that is responsible for maintaining the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. It also manages the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. 

Alexander credited the announcement to considerable oversight over the past five years, including "regular meetings" with Department of Energy leadership.

“We have said the project needs to be completed by 2025 at a cost of no more than $6.5 billion, and the design of the nuclear facilities needs to be 90 percent complete before construction of those buildings begins,” said Alexander,  who recently visited Y-12 with Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.

The Uranium Processing Facility's construction is expected to begin next year.

Combined with two other proposed DOE facilities in the country, construction projects could cost more than $20 billion to build, without factoring in operational expenses.

The president's budget request includes $1.7 billion for NNSA life extension programs, which fix or replace components in weapons system. It also includes $4 billion for directed stockpile work, the NNSA's production of materials for nuclear weapons and their components.

Direct sustainment work funds include those used for uranium sustainment operations at Y-12.  "(The funding) will permit operations with enriched uranium in Building 9212, a Manhattan Project-era production facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to end in FY 2025, and allow the bulk of this obsolete building to shut down," Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz, national nuclear security administrator, said in his testimony.

Trump's total fiscal year 2018 budget request for the NNSA is $13.9 billion, an increase of $993 million -- just under eight percent -- from the 2017 budget.