Work begins on Oak Ridge weapons plant modernization

Workers Wednesday began a modernization plan of a 59-year old nuclear weapons plant at the U.S. Energy Department's Oak Ridge facility in Tennessee.

The $4 billion, 20-year modernization effort of the Y-12 plant includes rebuilding facilities that date back to World War II and consolidating many of the 650 buildings at the site.

The modernization effort also will include construction of a new warehouse to store stockpiles of weapon-grade uranium, according to the Associated Press. The planned warehouse will be as big as four football fields and will be able to store up to 32,000 containers of weapon-grade uranium. Currently, the plant's weapon-grade uranium stocks are stored at five locations around the site.

The new warehouse will be "a concrete, heavy structure, seismically resistant," said Bill Brumley of the National Nuclear Safety Administration. "But the key features of it are designed to keep the bad guys out."