OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — Nestled in a lush green valley here is what’s billed as the Volunteer State’s biggest construction project since World War II. And that’s even before the final cost of the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex is known. Estimates put the UPF’s price tag at $4.2 billion to $6.5 billion, with a more accurate figure slated to be finalized next year. Officials said UPF will provide a more modern site for maintaining and dismantling nuclear weapons. It will help the nation sustain operable nuclear capabilities while blending highly enriched uranium for other uses, including nonmilitary, they said.

Officials said UPF will offer a chance for Chattanooga-area builders and suppliers to get a slice of business from the project. Rich Brown, UPF’s head of procurement, estimated that between $1.7 billion and $2.7 billion worth of materials and equipment will be needed. “Half the value of the project is in the hands of our supply chain,” he said. Plans are to meet Oct. 31 in Chattanooga with potential suppliers locally, Brown said.

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., said UPF is “going to be huge” and it’s going to generate lot of business. “I want to make sure Chattanooga and Hamilton County businesses can share in it,” he said. Ron Harr, the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce’s chief executive, agreed that UPF is not just important to national security, it’s an opportunity for local companies to get “a significant piece” of the work to build the facility.

Source: Chattanooga Times/Free Press | Mike Pare