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A critical improvement to the operations of the Y-12 National Security Complex has come online with this summer’s startup of a new potable water system.
The project includes two prominent, 220-foot-tall water towers and more than a mile-and-a-half of newly installed water lines.
“The project has allowed us to improve our water supply system and also to make essential repairs to the distribution system throughout Y-12,” said Melissa Blair, B&W Y-12 project manager.
The $62.5 million potable water system upgrades project provides a more reliable long-term water supply.
In addition to 8,360 linear feet of newly installed piping, 3,800 linear feet were replaced, and another 2,115 feet were cleaned and lined.
The Y-12 site was built as part of the World War II Manhattan Project. Original cast-iron water mains and laterals that had deteriorated were either repaired or replaced.
Sprinkler systems that contain antifreeze were modified to include a backflow preventer to ensure no cross-connections with potable water.
Fourteen antifreeze loops were severed from the water supply, and the antifreeze was drained to eliminate the possibility of cross-contamination; 52 backflow preventers were installed.
The most visible features of the project are the two water towers, each holding 2 million gallons. They are similar to those many cities across the country use to supply drinking water.
“The height of the towers allows greater water pressure, which provides a more reliable source of water for all areas of the site,” said Jeff Coppala, B&W Y-12 project engineer.
The site uses potable water for operations and drinking water.
“The PWSU project eliminates approximately $25 million in deferred maintenance costs associated with the potable water distribution system. This project represents another success towards the transformation of Y-12,” said Anna Beard, federal project director of Y-12 Site Office.
The National Nuclear Security Administration’s Office for Infrastructure and Facilities Management sponsored the project.
Earlier this year, Y-12 brought a new natural gas-fired steam plant online to replace a coal-fired plant in operation since the 1950s. This move significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The site also began operating the new Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility in January, providing safe, secure, efficient storage for the nation’s supply of highly enriched uranium.
B&W Y-12, a partnership of Babcock & Wilcox and Bechtel National Inc., operates the Y-12 National Security Complex for the National Nuclear Security Administration.