Energy Department approves construction of $6.5B uranium processing facility
- The U.S. Department of Energy has authorized construction to move forward on the three primary buildings of a $6.5 billion uranium processing facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.
- The project will include the Main Process Building (MPB), Salvage and Accountability Building (SAB) and Process Support Facilities (PSF), according to the Oak Ridger. The modern facility, where personnel will conduct for highly enriched uranium operations, namely recycling uranium from old nuclear warheads, will replace an older, World War II-era plant with safer and more efficient buildings. The three-story, 240,000-square-foot main building will house the uranium operations, and the other two structures will offer support services. Design and other preconstruction activities are underway.
- The federal government will fund the project annually on a "build to budget" basis through 2025. This year's $1.3 trillion spending bill included $663 million for the project. The department's National Nuclear Security Administration said the project would generate 2,000 construction jobs at peak activity.
The uranium facility project is part of a $1.2 trillion plan to modernize the U.S nuclear arsenal, an initiative crafted by former President Barack Obama. According to the Arms Control Association, the Trump administration reviewed the Obama-era plan and intends on not only continuing with it but adding new nuclear weapons capacity.
While the nuclear weapons modernization program appears to have won the favor of President Donald Trump, state and local infrastructure projects have not been as fortunate.
Trump fired the first salvo at those projects in a commentary accompanying his 2018 budget proposal. Trump wrote that local and state agencies had become too dependent on the federal government for financing and that the administration's focus would turn to those projects that had national impact.
Then, in his detailed infrastructure plan, the president said states that secure their own funding — through private investment, new transit taxes, etc. — would receive a much-reduced level of federal help through grants.
The administration has already taken aim at the proposed $13 billion New York-New Jersey Hudson River tunnel by not living up to an alleged Obama-era deal that would have seen the Transportation Department cover half of the tunnel's cost. The tunnel was severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy, and its replacement is critical in order to keep rail traffic moving along the Northeast Corridor.
However, when New York and New Jersey officials approached the Transportation Department about the best way to fund the project, they received notification that there was no such deal. In testimony before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee earlier this month, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao said the president was trying to kill the project and had asked House Speaker Paul Ryan to block funding for it.
- Knoxville News Sentinel Construction to begin soon on Y-12's Uranium Processing Facility
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