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Uranium facility construction to start a year before final cost estimate via Knoxnews

OAK RIDGE — A firm cost estimate on the Uranium Processing Facility — reported to be the largest construction project in Tennessee history — won’t be available until September 2013, according to the project’s federal director, but site readiness is expected begin within the next couple of months at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant.

Officials are getting approval to start preliminary construction work in part because they’ve broken the giant project, which currently has a cost range of $4.2 billion to $6.5 billion, into four separate work packages. The design work for the first phase has already been completed and almost ready to be carried out.

John Eschenberg, the UPF project director for the National Nuclear Security Administration, said the decision on when to start the site work — including tearing down a building, moving utilities and relocating part of Bear Creek Road — is now in local hands. That’s because the start of projects under $50 million doesn’t require a direct approval from officials at Department of Energy headquarters in Washington, D.C. Eschenberg said UPF’s first work package is estimated to cost between $30 million and $35 million, although he acknowledged that doesn’t include some work on a new haul road.

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