Posted on April 25, 2014
Says Red Team Review by Oak Ridge Lab director could provide model for multi-billion-dollar cost savings to keep uranium facility and other projects on time and on budget
The uranium processing facility will create many good jobs in Tennessee … But it also costs a lot, and using the Red Team’s process to rein in design and construction costs at the uranium processing facility and other massive construction projects could be a good way to protect hard-working taxpayers in Tennessee and around the country.” – Lamar Alexander
KNOXVILLE, April 25 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said today that the “Red Team” review of the proposed Uranium Processing Facility in Tennessee could serve as a model for the U.S. Department of Energy to rein in the costs of “almost all the largest government construction projects in the country.” Alexander made his remarks after receiving a briefing with U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz on the review from Oak Ridge National Laboratory Director Thom Mason, who led the Red Team.
“Oak Ridge may have found the solution for out-of-control energy projects, showing the federal government how to keep them on time and on budget,” said Alexander, who serves as the lead Republican on the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for Energy and Water Development. “The uranium facility will create many good jobs in Tennessee, and it will do so in a safe working environment while supporting our national security. But it also costs a lot, and using the Red Team’s process to rein in design and construction costs at the uranium processing facility and other massive construction projects could be a good way to protect hard-working taxpayers in Tennessee and around the country.”
Alexander, Moniz and Mason spoke to media at the Baker Center on the University of Tennessee Knoxville campus after a private briefing by Mason on the results of the Red Team’s review. Mason and his team used a similar review process to the one that has made the Office of Science the only office in the Department of Energy that successfully manages efficient and cost-effective construction projects, Alexander said.
Alexander cited the following Department of Energy projects as examples that would benefit from similar Red Team reviews:
- Uranium Processing Facility in Oak Ridge, Tenn., which would process uranium for nuclear weapons systems
Initial cost estimate: $650 million
Current projected cost estimate: $4 billion to $6.5 billion
- MOX (Mixed Oxide Fuel) Facility in Savannah River, S.C., which would use plutonium from nuclear weapons for fuel in commercial nuclear power plants
Initial cost estimate: $4.8 billion
Current projected cost estimate: $13 billion to $25 billion
- ITER, an international project seeking to design and build a fusion power reactor
Initial cost estimate: $1.1 billion to $2.2 billion
Current projected cost estimate: $4 billion to $6 billion
- Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Facility in Los Alamos, N.M, which would produce plutonium pits for nuclear weapons
Initial cost estimate: $400 million
Current projected cost estimate: $3.7 billion to $5.8 billion
Alexander has said the uranium facility should be subject to external review, that design should be 90 percent complete before construction begins and that officials involved with the project should meet regularly with Alexander and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee for Energy and Water Development.
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