In Part 1 of The Infrastructure Interviews , Bob Raines, Associate Administrator for NNSA’s Acquisition and Project Management and Jim McConnell, Associate Administrator for Safety, Infrastructure and Operations provided an inside look at the critical need for infrastructure investments and modernization across the Nuclear Security Enterprise (NSE). After historical funding inadequacies and subpar project management, NNSA has charted a path to success.
In this interview, Raines and McConnell highlight some of the major and minor construction projects underway across the Enterprise, including a look at the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF), Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) facility, minor construction success, and what is on the horizon for NNSA infrastructure modernization.
NNSA currently has 12 major projects valued at $8 billion under construction in support of Defense Programs and Department of Defense (DoD) missions.
Question: What are some of the major projects NNSA is currently undertaking?
Raines: NNSA currently has 12 major projects valued at $8 billion under construction in support of Defense Programs and Department of Defense (DoD) missions. The two largest projects are UPF at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee and the CMRR facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in New Mexico.
UPF is a fully baselined, $6.5 billion project that is more than 50 percent complete. The agency has purchased over $1 billion in materials and equipment and has 1,700 people working on the Project’s site. UPF is currently the largest construction project being executed by NNSA and one of the largest construction projects in Tennessee. Once complete, the facility will provide enriched uranium metal casting for our Nation’s nuclear weapons; oxide production for research reactors; feedstock for naval propulsion; and medical isotope feed material.
Using the strategy discussed in The Infrastructure Interviews: Part 1 , UPF was divided into seven subprojects, including three subprojects that were completed on budget and ahead of schedule: Site Readiness ($65 million), Site Infrastructure ($77 million), and Substation ($60 million). Additionally, the Main Processing Building ($4.7 billion) which is the heart of UPF, the Salvage and Accountability Building ($1.2 billion), the Mechanical and Electrical Building ($300 million), and the Process Support Facility ($130 million) are all under construction.
The Salvage and Accountability Building was recently topped out when the last piece of structural steel was set, and the next expected major milestone at UPF is the completion of that subproject in December 2021. UPF has been on budget and schedule for seven years due to Congress’s continued support of the budget request.
The CMRR facility at LANL is a $2.2 billion project which will host analytical chemistry and metallurgy capabilities supporting NNSA’s weapons program.
It is comprised of six subprojects: a Radiological (Rad) Lab ($195 million), three equipment installation projects in the Rad Lab, and two equipment installation projects in Plutonium Facility (PF)-4 – an operating Hazard Category 2, Security Category 1 nuclear facility.
As of November 2020, two subprojects have been completed and two are close to completion, anticipated to finish under budget and ahead of schedule. The last two subprojects are under design and will be baselined when design is completed in 2023.
In addition to UPF and CMRR, NNSA achieved Critical Decision 1, or CD-1, which designates that meeting a mission need will be done by a construction project, for 12 projects – the four largest of which are valued at a combined $4 billion. As with all of NNSA’s large projects, continued and sustained Congressional support of the agency’s “future years” budget request is imperative.
With support from the Administration and Congress, NNSA has been undertaking a risk-informed infrastructure recapitalization effort and making progress in repairing, replacing, and modernizing facilities across the Enterprise.
Question: What are some recent accomplishments in NNSA’s minor construction portfolio including recapitalization, disposition, and maintenance? Any exciting milestones on the horizon?
McConnell: With support from the Administration and Congress, NNSA has been undertaking a risk-informed infrastructure recapitalization effort and making progress in repairing, replacing, and modernizing facilities across the Enterprise. One major success has been the development and implementation of the annual NNSA Infrastructure Roadmap to chart and communicate a path forward. Some other highlights of NNSA’s infrastructure modernization from FY 2015-2020 have been:
- Completing 293 infrastructure recapitalization projects consisting of targeted renovations and minor construction;
- Disposing of 303 real property assets no longer needed for the NNSA mission, including the Bannister Federal Complex, formerly home to the Kansas City Plant; and
- Executing over $2.2 billion of maintenance activities across the NSE.
Additionally, NNSA is implementing its increased minor construction threshold of $20 million which Congress granted via the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act. Since FY 2018, NNSA has completed seven minor construction projects between $10 million and $20 million and currently has 52 such projects underway.
In 2019, former NNSA Administrator Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty developed a Strategic Integrated Roadmap for the Enterprise with infrastructure modernization listed as one of the five major mission priorities. Some major future milestones include:
- Completing the NNSA Albuquerque Complex in 2022;
- Modernizing utilities across all sites by 2028; and
- Finalizing construction and modernization of 10 million gross square feet of office and laboratory space by 2043.
Up next in The Infrastructure Interviews, Raines and McConnell pull back the curtain to explain some of the unique challenges NNSA is facing and how they are already working to overcome them.