Public input on future of Y-12

Oak Ridge (WVLT) -- Thousands of local jobs are at stake as the federal government makes decisions about the future of Y-12.

People are speaking out at a pair of public hearings in Oak Ridge.

Volunteer TV's Rob Pratt spent the day at Y-12 and has more.

We do know that Y-12 will have to change.

The real question, will it get new, more efficient facilities, allowing it to keep most employees in place?

Or will the next decade be spent closing down and cleaning up?

92 people sign up to speak to the National Nuclear Security Agency at the first of two hearings today.

Fred Crowner has worked at Y-12 for ten years.

Crowner says, "There's a good reason for this facility in our national security. I feel that we need to maintain that and I'm proud to be a part of that."

There are several options of the table as the feds decide how to reorganize the nuclear weapons complex. Under the leading plan, they are looking for a...

Ted Sherry says, "Smaller, more efficient, more effective operation here at Y-12. In fact, that is the option that is being referred to as the preferred alternative."

Even the preferred alternative would mean shrinking the size of Y-12 from 150 acres to 15.

Weapons employees would be reduced by 30 percent over the next decade.

Y-12 says other jobs could offset those cuts.

If Y-12 as not chosen as the center of excellence, the uranium program here would be completely phased out over the next decade.

That sounds fine to Amy Nicholson who traveled here from Middle Tennessee.

Nicholson says, "We should not be having a growth economy built on death."

But those running the meeting make it clear, this process is not about determining how many nuclear weapons to make, just where to make them.

The man conducting hearings like these at 19 sites around the country admits Y-12 has a lot going for it.

Ted Wyka says, "Let's face it. In this area, we have a very dedicated and highly talented workforce that's producing. Y-12 is already doing a lot, they're leading the way in a lot of our transformation efforts."

Another public hearing begins at 7:00 p.m. Tuesday night at Y-12's New Hope Center on Scarboro Road.

You can also share your opinion online by clicking the link below.

A final decision is expected in October.

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