In a news release Thursday, Sen. Lamar Alexander praised the inclusion of nearly $500 million in budgeted funding for ongoing projects at the Y-12 National Security Complex and Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

By approving the energy and water appropriations bill for the 2013 fiscal year, the Senate Appropriations Committee has recommended $25 million to begin addressing mercury contamination at Y-12, $94 million for a supercomputer upgrade at Oak Ridge and $340 million for construction of a uranium processing facility—a 113 percent increase from the previous fiscal year. 

The appropriations for the projects would be a fraction of the bill's $33 billion total cost. 

Stating that the proposed funding indicated ongoing projects in East Tennessee as being particularly significant, Alexander said the research taking place in Oak Ridge was "critical" to America's national security goals. 

"Even while we are reducing overall spending in this bill, the committee's support for these projects demonstrates that they are priorities for our entire nation," Alexander said. "Oak Ridge could again be home to the most powerful computer in the world, the uranium processing facility will safely house all future uranium production operations for the nation's nuclear weapons, and, while this bill continues funding for radiological cleanup in Oak Ridge, it also begins the mercury cleanup process."

The bill is now ready for Senate consideration. 

Located 25 miles outside of Knoxville and inside Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District, the facilities at Oak Ridge constitute one of the largest and most unique science and technology laboratories in the U.S. Department of Energy system. The Y-12 National Security Complex, one of four production facilities in the National Security Administration's Nuclear Security Enterprise, focuses on the processing and storage of uranium and helps maintain the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.