nuclear deterrence

Nuclear Forensics Research and Development

The Department of Energy has named Y-12 the National Uranium Materials Archive.

This storage center holds physical samples that can be retrieved when, for example, smuggled uranium materials are interdicted and the evidence has to be analyzed and compared with samples having known histories.

Y‑12 is working with nuclear forensics experts throughout the U.S.—at Los Alamos, Pacific Northwest, Oak Ridge and Savannah River national laboratories as well as others—to establish guidelines and requirements defining how the archive will be populated and used.

Support Facilities

The Y-12 site comprises more than 250 non-production facilities that help support ongoing and planned missions. We continue to maintain and modernize these support facilities — which include office buildings, maintenance shops, waste management and storage facilities, guard portals and posts, cooling towers and chiller buildings — with an emphasis on sustainment, cost savings and energy efficiency.

Processing

Y-12’s core manufacturing and processing operations are housed in decades-old buildings near or past the end of their expected life spans. A modern, efficient, safer Uranium Processing Facility must be constructed to ensure the U.S. can maintain existing weapons, dismantle weapons that are removed from the stockpile, fuel the nuclear Navy, and convert material to non-weapons uses.

Material Recycle and Recovery

Y-12 recycles and recovers enriched uranium from retired weapons and other excess or salvage materials, including some retired fuel elements and nuclear materials from other countries. This mission ensures that excess materials from Y-12 and other parts of the world are processed to a safer form for long-term storage or reuse. Recycled material is used for such things as feedstock for the Naval Reactors Program or for research reactors that produce medical isotopes.

Material Management/Strategic Reserve

Y-12 ensures safe, secure and compliant storage of the nation’s strategic reserve of nuclear materials at Y-12.

Our Nuclear Materials Management and Storage Program receives, stores, protects, dispositions and manages strategic and special nuclear materials and provides programmatic planning, analysis and forecasting for national security material requirements supporting Stockpile Stewardship and other DOE programs.

Weapons production

An effective production infrastructure is critical to national security. Y-12 continues to replace World War II-era facilities to increase efficiency and security, reduce costs and condense our high-security footprint.

Surveillance

Y-12’s Surveillance and Quality Evaluation Program assesses the integrity and life expectancy of the stockpile through surveillance and evaluation of weapon components and assemblies. Random samples from the stockpile are removed yearly and returned to Y-12 for precise forensics to evaluate life expectancies. Data from surveillance is used to determine weapon systems that might be candidates for a Life Extension Program.

Dismantlement

The Weapons Dismantlement and Disposition Program receives, dismantles and dispositions retired weapon components and subassemblies from the stockpile. As the nation reduces the size of its arsenal, Y-12 is playing a central role in decommissioning weapons systems and providing materials for peaceful uses.

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