Category Archives: B&W

ATLC chief: ‘Wait and see’ at Y-12

jonesI talked earlier today with Steve Jones, president of the Atomic Trades and Labor Council in Oak Ridge, and asked him about the situation at the Pantex nuclear weapons plant — where about 1,150 union workers went on strike over the weekend.

Jones said he didn’t want to comment directly on the action at Y-12’s sister plant near Amarillo, Texas.

“We support them, of course,” he said, referring to the Metal Trades Council, which represents the 10 unions on strike at Pantex. But the Pantex strike doesn’t change anything at Y-12 at this point, he said.

“We’re going to take a wait-and-see (approach), because we haven’t seen a proposal yet,” Jones said. “We’ll just have to wait and see what proposal is made to us.” Continue reading

Y-12 labor chief: ‘It’s a wait-and-see thing’

Consolidated Nuclear Security, the Bechtel-led contractor team that took over management of Y-12 and Pantex nuclear weapons plants on July 1, 2014, is reportedly still trying to negotiate a new labor agreement with the Metal Trades Council that represents about 1,200 hourly workers at Pantex. Those talks have been in overtime since February, and there’s no immediate word about a settlement there.

jonesThat, of course, is leaving Y-12 workers uncertain about what’s going to happen with their contract, which was extended a year by the previous contractor (B&W Y-12) in order to give more time for the new contractor (CNS) to get to know the union folks in Oak Ridge, etc. That extension, which was to have lasted until June 22, was extended again — to Aug. 21 — after it became clear that the Pantex unions and CNS weren’t going to solve their differences right away, Continue reading

DOE cites former Y-12 contractor; proposes $150K fine

The Department of Energy has issued a preliminary notice of violations against Babcock & Wilcox Y-12 Technical Services, the government’s former contractor at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant, for two incidents in 2013 and proposed a total fine of $150,000.

bwy12B&W Y-12, a partnership of Babcock & Wilcox and Bechtel National, managed the Oak Ridge plant from late 2000 until July 1, 2014, when it was replaced by Consolidated Nuclear Security — a contractor team headed by Bechtel.

According to the notice sent to B&W executive David Richardson on May 27 and released publicly this week, DOE identified multiple health-and-safety violations with two events: Continue reading

Quick release was a ‘big surprise’

IMG_6698 (3)During an interview at the Greyhound Bus Station in Knoxville, Plowshares protester Greg Boertje-Obed said his release from federal prison this weekend was a “big surprise.” He said attorneys had told him that the appeals process, even after the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the conviction on sabotage charges, could take a couple of months to play out and delay the release. The government has yet to announce whether it will appeal the Sixth Circuit’s sabotage ruling. (KNS photo/Saul Young)

Attorneys to seek immediate release of Y-12 protesters

plowshares2Attorneys for Sister Megan Rice, Michael Walli and Greg Boertje-Obed plan to seek the protesters’ immediate release from federal prison following last week’s appeals court ruling that overturned their conviction on sabotage charges for the July 28, 2012 break-in at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge.

Bill Quigley, a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans and a member of the legal team, said attorneys hope to free the three pending the government’s possible appeal of the ruling by the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals or the resentencing hearing that’s tentatively scheduled for July 8 in Knoxville. Continue reading

Y-12 union contract extended a couple of months; move apparently related to situation at Pantex

cnsWith union contract talks in overtime at the Pantex nuclear weapons plant, it looks like contract negotiations for Y-12 workers will be put on hold for a while.

Steve Jones, president of the Atomic Trades and Labor Council in Oak Ridge, confirmed the council’s negotiating team had agreed this week to extend the current contract to Aug. 21. The Y-12 contract, which was extended for a year last year in order to give time for the adjustment to Consolidated Nuclear Security, the government’s new managing contractor at Y-12 and Pantex, was due to expire June 22. Continue reading

Believe it or not, Alpha-5 could be in worse shape

alpha5aerialUndated aerial photo of the Alpha-5 building at Y-12. (NNSA photo)

Even though Alpha-5 is being used by the Inspector General and the GAO as the poster child for old, surplus, highly contaminated buildings in the nuclear weapons complex that are not in line to be removed any time soon, the situation at the Y-12 building apparently could be worse.

According to Steven Wyatt, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration, the government has invested about $24 million since 2008 “in surveillance, maintenance and risk-reduction activities in Alpha-5.” Continue reading

Fleischmann says fiscal pressures are UPF concern


U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, left, talks with reporters at a Uranium Processing Facility ceremony on Friday, March 13, at Y-12. He’s joined by NNSA Administrator Frank G. Klotz, center, and UPF Project Director Brian Reilly, right.

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Tenn., is a supporter of the Uranium Processing Facility — unabashedly so. In fact, he’s a big supporter of Y-12 operations at general.

“The Uranium Processing Facility is an example of how we can come together as Americans and get things done,” Fleischmann said last Friday during a milestone celebration for the multibillion-dollar UPF project that’s to be constructed in Oak Ridge. Continue reading

What’s the current design status on UPF? (Hint: It’s somewhere between 0% and 100%)

UPF Site RenderingFrank Klotz, head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, emphasized during his visit to Y-12 last week the importance of staying on track with the Uranium Processing Facility and achieving 90 percent design completion in Fiscal Year 2017. That’s important, he said, because that milestone sets the stage for construction to begin, and it’s also the point at which the NNSA will reportedly declare the project’s baseline cost — basically the government’s commitment on a price tag for the multibillion-dollar UPF.

So, where does the UPF design stand at this time? According John Eschenberg, the federal project director, it’s about 50 percent completed. Continue reading

DOE expresses concern on Y-12 security incidents; won’t take enforcement actions

The Department of Energy’s Office of Enforcement has completed its investigation of a security incident last year in which there were questions about the handling of information in a classified subject area, as well as another incident involving discrepancies in the inventory of “accountable nuclear material” that was determined to be classified.

Y12 gate_MP (2)In a Feb. 13 letter to Consolidated Nuclear Security President Jim Haynes, DOE’s director of enforcement, Steven C. Simonson wrote that both incidents occurred before CNS took over management of Y-12 on July 1, 2014, and were under the watch of the former contractor (B&W Y-12). Simonson expressed concern about the incident and raised some additional issues that need to be addressed by CNS, but he said DOE did not intend to take any enforcement actions at this time. Continue reading

Eric Schlosser takes deep look at Y-12 break-in and well beyond


Eric Schlosser, author of a “Break-in At Y-12” in this week’s New Yorker magazine, is shown here doing research on Aug. 24, 2014 in the Scarboro community of Oak Ridge. Behind Schlosser is Pine Ridge and the path that three protesters took to reach and breach Y-12’s boundaries.

Eric Schlosser, award-winning journalist and best-selling author (“Command and Control,” “Fast Food Nation,” etc.), is known for his almost fanatical research on his topics of choice, and that’s on display again in this week’s New Yorker — where he takes a look, a deep look, at the July 28, 2012 break-in at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant. Continue reading