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Secretary Chu, NNSA Administrator and the Tennessee Congressional Delegation Join Local Officials in Dedicating Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility at Y-12

March 22, 2010 - 12:00am

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OAK RIDGE, Tenn. - Secretary of Energy Steven Chu today gave the keynote address at a dedication ceremony recognizing the start-up of operations at the nation's new, one of a kind storage facility for weapons-grade uranium. The Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility (HEUMF) - the ultra-secure uranium warehouse at the Y-12 National Security Complex - replaces multiple aging buildings with a single state-of-the-art storage facility.

Secretary Chu was joined by Representative Zach Wamp from Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District, Representative Lincoln Davis from Tennessee's 4th Congressional District, National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Admininistrator Thomas P. D'Agostino and local officials from Oak Ridge.

HEUMF will play a major role in helping the NNSA accomplish its full range of nuclear security missions, including protecting the nation's inventory of highly enriched uranium (HEU).

"Your work matters deeply to the safety and security of our country, and we must ensure you have the tools - like the Highly Enriched Uranium Material Facility - to do your jobs," said Secretary Chu. "The Highly Enriched Uranium Material Facility is essential to achieving the President's vision. As we reduce our nuclear stockpile and improve security of nuclear material, we now have a modern facility capable of safely storing HEU until it can be down-blended."

Last April, President Obama called for an international effort to secure vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years. Next month in Washington, the President will host a first-of-its-kind Nuclear Security Summit that will bring together heads of state from more than 40 countries to work toward a common understanding of the threat posed by nuclear terrorism and agree to effective measures to secure nuclear material, prevent nuclear smuggling, and combat nuclear terrorism.

HEUMF was built to consolidate HEU from locations across the Y-12 National Security Complex into a state-of-the-art facility that will reduce operating costs and is designed to address current and future threats. It is a critical example of how we are leading by example and improving the security of our own nuclear material.

In addition to being a modern facility for receiving, shipping and providing long-term storage, HEUMF is an integral part of NNSA Administrator Tom D'Agostino's plan to move from a Cold War-era nuclear weapons complex to a 21st century national security enterprise. It also is a key part of Y-¬12's long-range modernization plan.

"HEUMF is an example of what we are trying to accomplish as we work to transform a Cold War nuclear weapons complex into a 21st Century Nuclear Security Enterprise," said NNSA Administrator Thomas P. D'Agostino. "We must invest in the tools and capabilities required to support the full range of nuclear security missions. HEUMF does this."

Now that construction of HEUMF has been completed, the Y-12 National Security Complex has begun consolidating HEU previously stored at multiple locations across the site into HEUMF. Originally scheduled to take 13 months, Y-12 has adopted an accelerated plan to transfer much of the plant's inventory of enriched uranium to the new high-security facility within 90 days which is expected to save about $26 million in security costs.

The largest construction project at Y-12 in more than 40 years, the $549 million building was completed in 2008 and began receiving material for storage at the end of January. HEUMF is a large (approximately 300 ft. by 475 ft.) reinforced concrete structure that will provide storage capacity for thousands of containers of material to be held in specially designed storage racks.

Construction of HEUMF began in 2004. Approximately 91,000 cubic yards of concrete, 5,800 tons of rebar, and 1.5 million linear feet of wiring were used in its construction. HEUMF is one of two facilities whose joint mission will be to accomplish the storage and processing of all enriched uranium in one small, centralized area at Y-12. Design work on the second building - the Uranium Processing Facility - is under way.

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