The NBL Center was officially opened June 11, with about 50 representatives from the Nuclear Security Enterprise and Y‑12 in attendance.
The newly formed NBL Program Office ensures the reliability of the nation’s supply of special nuclear certified reference materials to provide measurement proficiency samples and technical expertise and support to U.S. programs in the areas of nonproliferation, safeguards, and other national security programs.
“This is very important work that helps ensure stability around the globe,” said Morgan Smith, CNS president and chief executive officer. “We envision this new facility operating sort of like an Amazon fulfillment center but for very unique and very small orders of nuclear samples — things you definitely can’t get on Amazon. This small facility footprint and small, as-needed operating crew will reduce the time and cost required for customers to receive radiological materials. New missions don’t come to Y‑12 by chance. They come thanks to our employees’ dedication, expertise, and patriotism in all things uranium established over our proud history of vital nuclear security work.”
The new facility is operational and made its first shipment in April. By the end of FY 2019, the center will house 8800 Certified Reference Materials. The Office of Science funded Y‑12 to establish a new center, and Y‑12 is taking on the storage and distribution mission for the NNSA.
See the opening of the NBL Center video.
Y-12’s 75th Anniversary recently received some significant attention close to home and in Washington, D.C.
Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), whose district includes Y-12, recognized Y-12 June 8, in the nation’s capital, and at a recent Oak Ridge City Council session, a proclamation was read for Y-12.
Fleischmann recognized Y-12’s 75th anniversary in the June 8 edition of the Congressional Record and a flag was flown over the U.S. Capitol in honor of the occasion.
“Seventy five years ago, the men and women of the Y-12 plant worked tirelessly to protect our national interests and help us win World War II …,” Fleischmann said. “The 75th anniversary of the Y-12 National Security Complex is an occasion to reflect on this proud history and celebrate the people of the complex for their contributions.”
A proclamation recognizing Y-12’s 75th anniversary was unanimously passed by the Oak Ridge City Council in May. Oak Ridge Mayor Warren Gooch presented a copy of the proclamation to Y-12 Site Manager Bill Tindal and Gene Patterson of CNS Communications.
“As a Y-12 employee, I can say with confidence that we are proud to carry on the heritage of making the world a safer place, and our dedication to securing the nation’s future is unwavering,” Tindal told the audience and council members.
In April, Lt. Governor Randy McNally sponsored a state proclamation along with State Senator Ken Yager and State Representative Richard Briggs, honoring the 75 year history of Y-12 and its current mission.
Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank and members of the Anderson County Commission also celebrated Y-12’s 75th anniversary in March with a proclamation of appreciation that highlighted Y-12’s history and importance to Anderson County and the region.
Almost 200 people representing 120 businesses attended a Partners in Excellence Forum hosted by Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC.
The forum provided information about more than $500 million in upcoming construction-related work at Y-12, including mechanical; deactivation and decommissioning; heating, ventilation and air conditioning; electrical; piping, excavation; concrete and paving.
Steve Laggis, senior director of Infrastructure Programs, noted that the opportunities for partnerships are significant and sustained, with $80 to 100 million in procurement over the next seven years.
An integrated team worked to successfully demolish the Building 9201-5 (Alpha-5) Annex on time and on budget. In the coming weeks, a new slab will be poured to properly contour the remaining area to ensure the correct restoration for storm water draining and run off, and construction crews will demobilize the area.
Alan James of Y-12 Projects Management noted that the job was tricky because they had to tear down the annex without damaging the adjacent structure, yet the work was competed flawlessly and with no safety incidents. The project directly supports the reduction of risk for the Alpha-5 complex as well as the West End Protected Area Reduction project that will reduce the high-security area of the plant by approximately 50 percent.
Over the decades, Y-12 Development’s Metallography Laboratory (Met Lab) has studied the crystallographic microstructure of metals and alloys while undergoing many changes. The Met Lab was once a multiuse laboratory where technicians performed a laborious processing step to provide microstructural data to engineers and scientists to support various programs.
“Historically, every metal, alloy, and sometimes even nonmetals in the weapons stockpile made an appearance in the lab,” said Bob Bridges, Y-12 Development.
Does the Met Lab do basic metallography these days? “Not really,” Bridges said. “There was a time when everything we looked at was new and needed to be recorded for further review.”
The Met Lab’s current work is no longer routine as it once was, and as the scope of the work grows beyond metals to ceramics, plastics, powders, coatings, and other materials, the lab must stay ahead of the curve. Bridges said, “The best part of the work is you never know what someone will bring in to look at next.”
Today, the lab’s role is to study how or why the crystallographic microstructure changed. “Every component, piece, coupon, or specimen received for evaluation changed from its original state in some way and that needs to be understood to determine if the result is life limiting or normal,” Bridges said.
The Met Lab is equipped to examine radiological, nonradiological, classified, and unclassified objects using basic cutting, grinding, and polishing techniques along with state-of-the-art digital optical microscopes. All of the microscopes are maintained with current quantitative analytical tools. Other diagnostic equipment includes hardness testers, stress-strain microprobes, and gas quenching dilatometers for measuring physical properties from specimen sections. Access to other diagnostic tools, such as electron microscopy, can be incorporated from other groups within Y-12 Development. All of these tools are important in gaining a better perspective of grain size, inclusion content and particle distribution, microstructure and phase analysis, and some mechanical property data.
“Even with great tools, determining the root cause for failure analysis is not something that can be solved in an hour like you would expect from television,” Bridges said. “However, like popular crime dramas, you must have solid evidence to support a hypothesis, and usually from multiple pieces of information.”
Some of the problems solved over the past few years involved suspect counterfeit components, service integrity of control circuit components, premature failure of administrative controls, optimal alloy selection for service, and analysis of a variety of weld joints. “The key to solving a failure analysis is to not rush to an unsupported conclusion, even if it comes from the customer,” he said.