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Contractors to run Tenn., Texas nuclear plants

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) -- A group of contractors headed by Bechtel National and Lockheed Martin has been selected to manage nuclear weapons facilities in Tennessee and Texas.

The National Nuclear Security Administration on Tuesday announced that Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC was selected to run the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., and the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas. The contract will also include management of the construction project to build the new uranium processing facility at Y-12.

The contract also includes the option of managing the Savannah River Tritium Operations at the Savannah River Site in near Aiken, S.C., after the first year of the contract, if NNSA decides to exercise that option.

Consolidated Nuclear Security is comprised of Bechtel National, Lockheed Martin Services, ATK Launch Systems, Inc. and SOC, LLC. The 5-year contract will start May 1, which could be extended an additional five years.

NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino said in a press release that the contract will save billions in taxpayer money over the next decade.

"Our nuclear production capabilities are critical to our national security, and this contract puts NNSA in a position to improve mission delivery by generating significant savings that will be reinvested to improve safety, security, quality, and infrastructure," said D'Agostino.

Bechtel is already a partner in the current management groups of both Y-12 and Pantex, and Lockheed Martin has also previously held contracts at Y-12.

The Texas facility is where excess nuclear weapons are dismantled, surveillance is conducted on the stockpile and aging weapons are maintained. The Tennessee facility produces enriched uranium nuclear weapons components and provides enriched uranium for the U.S. Navy. The South Carolina facility makes tritium, a radioactive form of hydrogen gas that is a vital component of nuclear weapons.