Nuclear security is a national and international imperative. In the United States, that responsibility belongs to the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and the first of its four missions is to maintain and safeguard America’s nuclear stockpile.
A critical project in that mission is the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex in the state of Tennessee, which has played a key role in strengthening our country’s nuclear defense and reducing the global threat from weapons of mass destruction.
Originally built 75 years ago during the Manhattan Project, Y-12’s uranium facilities are dated and deteriorating.
NNSA has partnered with Bechtel to deliver a modern facility with a design life of at least 50 years to ensure the long-term viability, safety, and security of those capabilities in the United States. The modernization will also improve worker safety, reduce energy consumption and significantly lower operating and maintenance costs. It is one of NNSA's largest construction projects.
It is estimated that more than $1.8 billion will be spent on goods and services to build the new multi-facility complex, and more than 2,000 jobs will be created at peak construction. Completion is slated for 2025 for an estimated cost of $6.5 billion.
To expedite progress and take advantage of available expertise, the design work is being conducted at three separate engineering centers in Tennessee and Virginia using a consolidated digital engineering design model.
- Site Readiness—complete—on time and under budget
- Site Infrastructure and Services—complete—on time and under budget
- Substation—complete—ahead of schedule and under budget
Each of the four main buildings is being constructed around the safety and security requirements appropriate for its function, which provides greater cost-saving opportunities in construction and equipment installation.
- Mechanical Electrical Building—underway
- Process Support Facilities—underway
- Salvage and Accountability Building—underway
- Main Process Building—underway
Two tower cranes, which are 300 and 360 feet tall, were installed in early 2018 as part of the construction of UPF. Having high-capacity, stationary cranes within the footprint of the buildings gives UPF the ability to reach every spot in the construction zone, making materials handling safe and efficient.
See the construction status on the Y-12 site.
Modern safety standards, security, and flexibility
The complex will enable processing capabilities for enriched uranium casting, oxide production, and salvage and accountability operations to support the Nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile, defense nuclear nonproliferation, and naval reactors. Advances in processing will provide significant improvements in safety and efficiency of operations, and space utilization.
More than 210,000 cubic yards of concrete will form the foundation and 15,000 tons of structural steel (the Eifflel Tower weighs 11,400 tons) will be used to build the facilities and safeguard their contents and mission from natural and manmade threats.
UPF will be also be protected by a state-of-the-art perimeter intrusion detection and assessment system and the highly trained, well-equipped Y-12 guard force.