Morning Briefing - March 26, 2018
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March 26, 2018

DOE Authorizes Construction Start on Keystone Next-Gen Uranium Plant

By ExchangeMonitor

The Department of Energy has authorized the start of construction on key parts of the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn.: a crucial cog in the government’s 30-year nuclear deterrent-modernization effort.

In a Friday press release, DOE said it cleared its semi-autonomous National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) to begin building the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) Main Process Building, Salvage & Accountability Building, and Process Support Facilities (PSF). These are three of seven subprojects for the UPF; two have been completed and two others are already underway.

The Main Process Building is the heart of the facility, in which technicians will eventually service, refresh, and replace the uranium stages of nuclear warheads. The NNSA is at the beginning of a three-decade modernization program that will extend the lives of nuclear warheads carried by intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles, and air-launched cruise missiles.

The UPF would get $663 million for construction in fiscal 2018 under the omnibus spending bill signed Friday: exactly what was requested, and a 15-percent raise from 2017. The administration requested a little more than $700 million for the project in 2019. Annual spending on the facility is slated to peak at around $750 million in 2021, according to the NNSA’s fiscal 2019 budget request.

In congressional testimony last week, NNSA Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty said the project was on track to finish in 2025 at a cost of no more than $6.5 billion, as the agency promised Congress.

Bechtel National is building the UPF under a subcontract to Y-12 prime Consolidated Nuclear Security. Bechtel also leads the prime, which also features Leidos; Orbital ATK, and SOC.