Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Uranium Processing Facility

The expansion of the Cold War-era Uranium Processing Plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee is the third, “Most Dangerous and Budget-Busting Project,” on the Department of Energy’s agenda. While the original proposal was estimated to cost around $600 million in 2005, scheduling delays and construction conflicts have prolonged the expansion and tacked on additional costs making it the most expensive bomb plant in history. To make matters worse the NNSA said that it won’t have a definitive price tag until the facility’s design is 90 percent complete.

Between 2005 and 2010 the cost was not the only part of the program that changed. The National Nuclear Security Administration’s original justification for the urgency of the project was that the facility was, “essential to its ability to meet national security requirements regarding the nation’s nuclear deterrent.” The NNSA also claimed that the expansion was needed to maintain basic nuclear weapons capabilities.” Flash forward five years to 2010 and the new reasoning behind the project was to, “avoid the risks of intermittent shutdown associated with current facilities.” The drastic shift in the purpose of this program suggests that maybe the Uranium Processing Facility was not so urgent after all. Also, “to avoid being shutdown,” is not a particularly convincing argument to support the $6.5 billion project.

The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability recognizes an even greater fear for the Uranium Processing Facility expansion program: how it will affect our national identity. As a country that works to discourage the nuclear ambitions of other nations, we should not be building new nuclear weapon facilities on our own soil. Such a double standard could have severe implications for our diplomatic credibility and efforts towards nonproliferation.

So what is the alternative? The Alliance for Nuclear Accountability suggests several recommendations for how to move forward with this project in a way that is productive and beneficial to our national interest. Instead of upgrading the Uranium Processing Facility, the DOE should downsize operations and consider incorporating a dismantlement facility. In addition, Congress and the Obama Administration should thoughtfully reassess plans for uranium operations in a way that is realistic and practical for the future. Want more information on the Uranium Processing Facility? Check out this interesting Environmental Impact Statement from the Project on Government Oversight.


  1. I've read the NNSA Strategic Plan and it follows with the Nuclear Posture Review in turning the direction around to move towards fewer warheads and greater cooperation with Russia in dismantling weapons and in securing and eliminating fissile material. I think we all agree that was the intent of the NPT, get rid of them. Too bad the Baruch Plan wasn't adopted in 1946, we wouldn't be where we are at today, eh?

    Since I having to post as Anonymous, my name's Bob Farquhar

    The DoD has said they no longer want them, yet Heritage Foundation and the weapons complex push Congress to do otherwise. When did Congress take over strategic planning for the military?

    The pedulum swings back, Fukushima got people's ears up, at least briefly, and the key is to keep that interest up in things nuclear and educate them about nuclear weapons and how destructive it can be to them, in a twinkling of the eye. Usually then they become willing to speak out against them.

    "Unless something affects them within the next 30 minutes, many people could really could give a pig's pattootie." My question to them is, "What are you going to do about it during the 30 minutes it takes for the missiles to fly, 15 minutes if sub-launched?"

    Education of the public, and politicians, is key to getting rid of the damn things. Jerry Miller in his book "Stockpile" devotes an entire chapter to education of the public and how a lack of it has contributed to the massive stockpile and arms race. The vast majority of material on nuclear weapons and policy is PhD sort of stuff, intended for professionals. The public has no singlular source to show the history and horror of nuclear weapons, graphically. Then, I believe, they will turn against them and stand for elimination, by everyone, We the People.

    I spoke at Georgia WAND Mother's Day for Peace event this past Sunday as part of receiving an award in which I emphasized the need for education, but people's natural resistance to looking directly at the bomb might hamper that. I'm not sure what it is that will get people's attention, but I would not want it to be, paraphrasing Condoleezza Rice, a mushroom cloud.

    I've assembled a book, "Duck and Cover", which is a pictorial history of nuclear weapons narrated by a cartoon caveman named Ralph. "Duck and Cover" is intended to be an educational tool, something easily understood by the general public. And yes, politicians who see nuclear weapons thru numbers, not reality. I am hoping to find a means of publishing and am open to suggestions.

    It's time to educate the public so we can show and tell Washington and the corporations who profit at the expense of good, that "We the People", not the "puppies" as we are seen, want these weapons gone. Once and for all.

  2. Not only do we want these weapons gone we want the nuclear power plants shut down as well. We cannot take any further chances from nuclear waste leaking anywhere!!!


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