The Y-12 National Security Complex (Y-12) is in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, about 15 miles from Knoxville, and dates from the World War II Manhattan Project. Babcock and Wilcox Technical Services Y-12, LLC primarily operate the facility, but Wackenhut Corporation is contracted to provide security. Y-12 employs approximately 3,800 people in support of NNSA activities. The total Y-12 Site footprint is 7.6 million sq-ft, with a 10-year plan to reduce the footprint to 3 million sq-ft by 2028. According to the 2009 Budget, NNSA planned to spend $843 million for nuclear weapons activities at Y-12 in 2009.
Under NNSA's plans for Complex Transformation, Y-12 would be the 'Uranium Center of Excellence'. Y-12 contains the world's largest repository of highly enriched uranium (HEU) in metal form, storing approximately 400 MT of the material- enough for about 14,000 nuclear warheads. While Y-12 refers to itself as the 'Fort Knox' for storage and management of HEU, there are a number of security risks posed by the site. Roughly 700,000 people live within a 100-mile radius of the facility. The 811-acre compound- over three miles long and half a mile wide- is nestled in a valley between two ridges. Because of its location, Y-12 is a difficult site to defend. Attackers could use the surrounding forested high ground to help gain control of the facility. Most of the HEU at Y-12 is stored in five World War II-era buildings. During NNSA's 2007 force-on-force security test, the mock adversaries were successful in a theft scenario; meaning they were successful in removing mock SNM from Y-12. In addition to storing uranium at Y-12, NNSA also manufactures, evaluates, and tests the uranium nuclear weapons components and canned subassemblies, which includes heavy metal cases and secondaries. The mission for these components and canned subassemblies, and the number produced, is not publicly available. Complex Transformation sets a future production target for canned subassemblies at Y-12 of about 125 per year, but the number could be increased to an annual rate of 200. Y-12 also conducts component dismantlement, storage, and disposition of surplus nuclear materials. Additionally, Y-12 supplies HEU for use in naval reactors and research reactors. The Complex Transformation SPEIS would continue these activities at Y-12.
Major NNSA Facilities at Y-12
In 2008, Y-12 completed a long-overdue project to build a storage facility called the 'Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility' (HEUMF) to store the majority of the weapons-quantities of HEU currently housed in the five above-ground storage buildings. NNSA expects to begin moving HEU into HEUMF in 2010 and to move all HEU, except for processing inventories, into HEUMF by the end of 2011. Without an aggressive plan to down-blend the hundreds of metric tons of excess HEU that is to be stored at HEUMF, there is little room for other functions in the facility. In its December 2008 Record of Decision, the NNSA announced its decision to build a large Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) adjacent to the HEUMF to house the remainder of the HEU mission. UPF is not scheduled to be completed until 2019 at the earliest. Details about the mission of UPF are sketchy, as DOE vaguely states that it will have a 'modern highly-enriched uranium production capability.'
Final 2011 SWEIS: searchable PDF
NukeWatch has combined the chapters of the 2011 final Y-12 site-wide environmental statement into one unified, searchable document: (View/download PDF 29mb).
Uranium Processing Facility:
May 2, 2016: NNSA releases Environmental Review of UPF Bomb Plant Plans
June 2015 (view/download PDF)
February 2015 (view/download PDF)
December 2014 (view/download PDF)
November 2014 (view/download PDF)
September 2014 (view/download PDF)
August 2014 (view/download PDF)
July 2014 (view/download PDF)
June 2014 (view/download PDF)
January 2014 (view/download PDF)
- POGO Requests Independent Study to Determine Need For Nuclear Facility
- Y-12, UPF and transparency (or lack thereof) Frank Munger, Nov. 5, 2014
- ANA: Obama Administration Plans For New Nuclear Bomb Plant Challenged
OREPA on GAO Report:
- Management Problems Not Corrected, Getting Worse
June 2017: A Defining Moment: Help us stop the new nuclear bomb plant
You can be part of history. Please join us to stop the next nuclear bomb plant, the UPF, before it is built. Donate now to help fund the legal challenge to the UPF.
The current policy of the United States is that we are moving toward a world free of nuclear weapons, but in the meantime, the National Nuclear Security Administration says the new Uranium Processing Facility will have the capacity to produce 80 new thermonuclear secondaries per year.
- Read more about why it's important to stop this plant at OREPA.org.
- Donate now to help fund the legal challenge to the UPF.
- See Oct 2016 NukeWatch/OREPA press release re NNSA's failure to execute a new Environmental Impact Statement for the revised UPF.
UPF Update OREPA June 2015:
Tell The Taxpayer!
"After more than twenty years of tracking Department of Energy and National Nuclear Security Administration shenanigans, it's not easy to surprise Jay Coghlan of Nuclear Watch New Mexico. He knows all about the massive cost overruns at DOE's Hanford Waste Treatment Plant; he knows about the billions spent on the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel facility at Savannah River; he watched cost estimates for a bomb plant at Los Alamos double three times over before the plans got shelvednone of those projects are anywhere close to being finished, despite being years past their original completion date.
"Still, Jay's eyebrows raised when he came across a number from a 2006 estimate for the Uranium Processing Facility bomb plant proposed for Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The number was $92 million. It was the amount projected for the design phase of the UPF.
"That's a lot of money to design a bomb plant. But that isn't why Jay paused- it's because he knew that by the end of 2016 the cost of the design for the UPF will reach the $2 billion mark, and even then it is unlikely the design will be finished."
"How in the world can you spend two billion BILLION dollars designing anything?"
- "You can easily spend $2 billion when it's other people's money (thank you, taxpayers!). And when you make such a colossal blunder at the outset that you have to throw away the first set of plans and write off half a billion dollars (it happened) as a total loss. Then you work another year on another set of plans that you also mostly scrap. And, even more challenging, you are then tasked with designing a bomb plant to include new, high- tech equipment that does not yet exist. Hey, a billion here, a billion there..." (Read the whole story here)
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, August 4, 2014:
Y-12: Poster Child For A Dysfunctional Nuclear Weapons Complex
"The United States halted production of new nuclear weapons in 1989, with the end of the Cold War. But the US nuclear weapons complex- composed of eight key facilities that have an annual budget exceeding $8 billion- has stumbled on, in the form of a massive, decaying empire that in many cases does its work poorly or dangerously, or both. The Y-12 National Security Complex is the poster child for much of what ails the weapons complex. Although Y-12 has not produced weapons for some 25 years, its annual budgets have increased by nearly 50 percent since 1997, to more than $1 billion a year..." (ref)
Sources: Transforming the U.S. Strategic Posture and Weapons Complex For Transition to a Nuclear Weapons-Free World, Nuclear Weapons Complex Consolidation Policy Network, April 2009.
The members of the Nuclear Weapons Complex Consolidation Policy Network include Nuclear Watch New Mexico along with national organizations: the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Project On Government Oversight; Tri-Valley CAREs, near the Lawrence Livermore National Lab; the Greater Kansas City Chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, near the Kansas City Plant; and JustPeace of Texas, near the Pantex Plant.
For immediate release, October 28, 2016
Watchdogs Call For New Environmental Impact Study For Nuclear Bomb Plant
Citing Worker Safety And Public Risks, New Seismic Information
"The Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance and Nuclear Watch New Mexico today released a letter to Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz calling for a new Site-Wide Environmental Impact Statement for the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Y-12 is a manufacturing plant that produces the thermonuclear cores (secondaries) for US nuclear warheads and bombs.
"The letter rejects the analysis prepared by the National Nuclear Security Administration and the subsequent Amended Record of Decision released in August 2016 in which the NNSA gave itself the green light to proceed with construction of the Uranium Processing Facility, a bomb plant originally intended to replace aging facilities."
Jay Coghlan, Nuclear Watch New Mexico Director, commented: "The Uranium Processing Facility is the tip-of-the-spear for the trillion dollar "modernization" of U.S. nuclear forces that will fleece the American taxpayer. It will enrich the usual fat cat defense contractors by keeping nuclear weapons forever while rebuilding them to give them new military capabilities. The public has the legal right to review planned changes to the deeply troubled Uranium Processing facility, which we seek to enforce."
Read full press release (PDF) / See letter to Sec. Moniz (PDF)
For immediate release: March 5, 2015
Watchdog Groups Praise NNSA Decision to Obey the Law, Prepare Supplement Analysis on Bomb Plant
"The National Nuclear Security Administration's disclosure that the agency is "in the process" of preparing a Supplement Analysis for the much-changed Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) at the Y-12 nuclear weapons production plant brought praise from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (OREPA) and Nuclear Watch New Mexico. Just two days ago the two grassroots watchdog groups filed an expedited Freedom of Information Act request asking for the Supplement Analysis. At the same time the two groups noted that NNSA could be legally vulnerable without one. ..."View/download full press release
For immediate release: March 2, 2015:
Groups Join To Demand Answers About Bomb Plant Plans
"The Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance (Oak Ridge, TN) and Nuclear Watch New Mexico (Santa Fe, NM) today filed a Freedom of Information Act request asking the Department of Energy (DOE) to come clean about its plans for a new, multi-billion dollar nuclear bomb plant proposed for the Y-12 Nuclear Weapons Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
"The Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) is a highly troubled project that has exploded in estimated costs from an original $600 million to as high as $19 billion..." Since then, in order to attempt to cap project spending at $6.5 billion, DOE has reduced the scope of the UPF by eliminating dismantlement operations and assuming a mission of production-only for nuclear weapons. After a half-billion dollar design mistake for which no one has been held accountable, DOE has abandoned its previous "big box" concept for the UPF in favor of a modular approach that includes the continuing use of unsafe, aging facilities previously slated for demolition. Despite these major changes, DOE has indicated it does not plan to update the legally required environmental review process it completed in 2011..." View/download full press release
UPF Fiasco: Design error costs $500 million
"In 2012, NNSA discovered that the contractor in charge of designing the new Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) at Y-12 did not adequately manage its subcontractors and, as a result, the building had a glaring flaw: after spending $500 million on the UPF design alone, NNSA found that the building wouldn't be tall enough to house the necessary uranium processing equipment. The cost to re-design and raise the ceiling 13 feet added an additional $540 million onto the price tag- more than doubling what we'll spend on just the design..." see POGO report