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Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley ® at epicenter of nuclear renaissance
January 28, 2011

KNOXVILLE/OAK RIDGE, /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- With an estimated $10 billion of projects on the horizon, the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley® finds itself at the epicenter of a rebirth of nuclear power research and construction.

"Companies are expanding their presence here, others are establishing one," said Jesse Smith, director of technology for the Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley regional economic development group.

Smith points to several recent developments as signs that the region is at the forefront of renewed interest in all things nuclear:

• Knoxville-headquartered Tennessee Valley Authority, TVA, is building the new Bellefonte nuclear power plant, with unofficial costs estimates for the undertaking currently run between $3.5 and $4.5 billion. Construction of a second nuclear power plant at Watts Bar near Knoxville is nearing completion. TVA's long term resource plan calls for more nuclear power plants to meet carbon neutral power generation.
• The Department of Energy (DOE) will build a massive uranium processing facility at its National Security Facility in Oak Ridge. The project could cost an estimated $6 billion. Engineering and design work for the facility should be completed this year.
• Last May, DOE selected Oak Ridge National Laboratory to lead a $122 million, five-year initiative to establish and operate a new Nuclear Energy Modeling and Simulation Energy Innovation Hub. The lab also studies fuel cycle and global nuclear security as well as reactor and non-reactor systems.
• TVA, DOE and ORNL are considering building a small modular reactor at a Clinch River site. Estimated costs are approximately $2 billion.

Innovation Valley nuclear industry-related companies recently making headlines include:

• ATC Nuclear, which performs seismic, environmental and performance tests of nuclear power plant components, expanded its footprint by taking over a large warehouse and laboratory facility in Oak Ridge near the national lab and DOE's Y-12 National Security facility.
• Merrick and Co., an engineering company with ORNL and Y-12 contracts, opened an Oak Ridge office and continues to grow.
• Energy Solutions now headquarters its government contracting group here.
• SAIC moved its energy contracting and consulting headquarters to the Innovation Valley.
• AMS, Analysis and Measurement Services Corp., solidified its local presence with the award of $5.3 million from DOE for advanced monitoring technologies.
• USEC Inc. is basing all of its technology, research and development activity in Oak Ridge for the multi-billion dollar American Centrifuge, the next generation of centrifuge uranium enrichment technology. USEC is also creating American Centrifuge Manufacturing in Oak Ridge, a joint company with Babcock & Wilcox for the manufacture and assembly of thousands of uranium centrifuges at a facility in Piketon Ohio.

"We're seeing the growth of nuclear support industry here," says Smith. "It's a strategic targeted industry for us."

Among other nuclear-related companies located in the region are Bechtel, CH2M HILL, Ametek, NucSafe, Canberra, Southern Technologies, B&W Clinch and Analysis, and numerous security, engineering and safety consultants as well as other service providers.

The Knoxville-Oak Ridge Innovation Valley economic development partnership promotes workforce development and business recruitment and retention, and focuses on such promising high tech sectors as carbon fiber, advanced materials for the solar industry, nuclear component manufacturing, energy storage systems, instrumentation and bioenergy.


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