The Department of Energy’s Office of Inspector General took a look at the management of the infrastructure at the Pantex nuclear weapons plant, and found some problems.
Here’s an excerpt from the summary: Continue reading
As noted in an earlier post, Consolidated Nuclear Security has hired more than 650 new workers in Fiscal Year 2016 — more than halfway to the goal of 1,150 new hires at the two plants managed by CNS, Y-12 in Oak Ridge and Pantex in Amarillo, Texas.
CNS today gave the breakdown by plant. More than 350 of the new workers are at Y-12, and more than 300 at Pantex.
Air ducts associated with a Holden Gas Furnace at Y-12 last month reportedly had a build-up of uranium particles that exceeded nuclear safety limits, prompting a temporary pause in operations associated with the recycling of highly enriched uranium.
The issue was reported in a recently released May 23 staff memo by staff of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board assigned to the Oak Ridge plant. Continue reading
Consolidated Nuclear Security, the government’s managing contractor at the Y-12 and Pantex nuclear weapons plants, confirmed that it has hired more than 650 employees since the start of Fiscal Year 2016.
The National Nuclear Security Administration today confirmed it has not yet made a decision on whether to exercise an option to incorporate the tritium activities at the Savannah River Site into the Y-12/Pantex management contract held by Consolidated Nuclear Security. The CNS contract is coming up on its two-year anniversary. The Bechtel-led team assumed responsibility for managing the two plants on July 1, 2014. Continue reading
In a newly released activity report by staff of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Board, it was noted that a Y-12 engineer received contamination on his forearm when a “drop of process solution” dripped from overhead in the C-1 Wing of Building 9212 — the plant’s main facility for processing highly enriched uranium.
The report noted that even though the non-destructive assay engineer was wearing the appropriate protective clothing, the acidic solution soaked through the nylon cloth and resulted in skin contamination. The first attempt to remove the radioactive residue was apparently not fully successful, but a second effort “reduced the (radiation) readings to less-than-detectable levels,” the safety board staff reported.
The drip of uranium solution reportedly came from the connection between a drain valve and a section of tubing. Continue reading
Lawler-Wood LLC of Knoxville will develop a new 342,000-square-foot administative complex at the Pantex nuclear weapons plant under a private-financing arrangement similar to what was used for two facilities — New Hope Center and Jack Case Center — at Y-12 in Oak Ridge.
Wayne Roquemore, president of Lawler-Wood, said the complex will be built on property that’s adjacent to Pantex and currently owned by Texas Tech University. The land will be purchased from the university, he said.
Once developed by Lawler-Wood, with financing via Panhandle Economic Development Corp., it will be leased by an ownership group to Consolidated Nuclear Security — the government’s managing contractor at Pantex and Y-12. CNS said it had received approval from the National Nuclear Security Administration to negotiate the lease. The initial lease term will reportedly be for five years, with multiple options for the future. Continue reading
The Beta-2E facility is located in the foreground of this view of the main production complex at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant. Building 9215 is to the left of Beta-2E. The government’s revised strategy for the Uranium Processing Facility depends not only on construction of a cluster of new facilities to process bomb-grade uranium but also leans heavily on extending the life of some existing production buildings — notably 9215 and Beta-2E. (Y-12 photo)
The future of the uranium mission at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant depends partly on extending of life of two production facilities — Beta-2E and Building 9215 — that are already 46 and 59 years old respectively.
The strategy will require innovative ways to rebuild electrical systems and others parts of the plant’s aged infrastructure, as well as a pervasive focus on worker safety and a steady stream of federal funding for the next 20 years.
Details of the plan are contained in a government report on Y-12’s “Life Extension Program,” which was obtained by the News Sentinel under a Freedom of Information Act request. Continue reading
An emergency management exercise will be held Wednesday (June 8) at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, and the public is alerted that some off-site activities — such as environmental sampling — are part of the drill.
The exercise will involve personnel from the National Nuclear Security Administration and Consolidated Nuclear Security — the government’s managing contractor at Y-12 — as well as emergency responders from federal, state and local entities. Continue reading
That seemed to be the case in an incident at the Beta-2E assembly/disassembly center at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant that was included in an April 15 report by staff of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board.
According to that report, workers encountered a situation where an overhead crane “continued to lower a component after the worker operating the crane had released the ‘down’ pushbutton.” Continue reading
As part of that effort, Y-12 recently hosted its annual Technology Transfer Awards ceremony and recognized those employees whose ideas have had an impact at the Oak Ridge plant and beyond. Continue reading
The Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge recently won six of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Sustainability Awards. The awards recognize individuals and teams on projects that help conserve resources, reduce discharges or otherwise protect the environment. One of the honors was received for innovative operations at the Waste End Treatment Facility. The project allowed processing of 718,000 gallons of production wastewater and eliminated the generation of about 14,000 gallons of low-level radioactive sludge and the need for about 200 gallons of sulfuric acid, 4,000 gallons of ferric sulfate, 3,200 gallons of sodium hydroxide, and 4 gallons of polymer as treatment chemicals. The overall effort reduced sludge generation by about 130.5 metric tons. The West End Treatment Facility is pictured above. For a complete rundown on the Sustainability Awards, check out Y-12’s website.
A federal judge has refused to dismiss a lawsuit that was filed last year on behalf of Y-12 retirees, who claimed that Consolidated Nuclear Security — the government’s managing contractor at the nuclear weapons plant — misled employees and failed to live up to promises made by CNS and previous contractors about enduring health care benefits for retirees.
The lawsuit was filed last summer in U.S. District Court in Knoxville on behalf of retirees Betty Hatmaker and Charlene Edwards. CNS later filed a motion to have the suit dismissed.
U.S. District Judge Thomas A. Varlan last week issued a memorandum opinion and order that granted a part of the defendant’s motion to dismiss but refused to dismiss the lawsuit entirely. Continue reading