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SRS tritium program included in contract RFP for Pantex, Y-12

Monday, Dec. 19, 2011 4:08 PM
Last updated 9:21 PM
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A plan to consolidate management of nuclear weapons sites in Tennessee and Texas — with an option to absorb Savannah River Site’s tritium program — has moved forward with a final request for proposals issued by the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The money-saving reorganization would combine contracts to manage the Y12 National Security Complex near Knoxville, Tenn., and Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas, into a single contract that would offer the recipient a chance to include the tritium operations and its 400 jobs.

A draft request for proposals published in July attracted 27 responses from interested stakeholders,

The tritium program is one of the last nuclear weapons functions still based at SRS and involves periodic recharging of the tritium reservoirs in nuclear warheads.

Tritium, a gas that increases explosive power, has a half-life of about 12.3 years and requires recharging. Workers also extract tritium from fuel rods produced at TVA reactors and from both surplus and active warhead reservoirs.

Although the tritium program could be absorbed by a new contractor, the jobs and facilities would remain at SRS.

Tasks performed at Pantex include retrofitting and repairing of nuclear weapons, testing and development of high explosives, interim storage of plutonium pits and dismantling of surplus warheads.

The Y12 site was part of the World War II Manhattan Project. Its current missions include the reworking of nuclear weapon systems and components, surveillance of nuclear weapons and related materials, and prevention of the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

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