Category Archives: CNS

Y-12/Pantex contractor cites improvements that followed performance review

y12overviewConsolidated Nuclear Security — the government’s managing contractor at the Y-12 and Pantex nuclear weapons plants — today released a statement that said CNS had made a number of significant changes following the National Nuclear Security Administration’s review of its performance in Fiscal Year 2015. As noted earlier, the contractor received a performance score of 57 out of 100.

CNS emphasized that the evaluation period included “an unprecedented transition” of two NNSA sites, “as well as several unexpected challenges as we sought to implement the requirements of the new contract.”

Here’s the statement: Continue reading

CNS ‘satisfactory’ on managing weapons mission

In the NNSA’s 2015 evaluation of Consolidated Nuclear Security, the managing contractor at the Y-12 and Pantex plants is rated on six “performance objectives” — 1. manage the nuclear weapons mission; 2. reduce global nuclear security threats mission; 3. DOE and Strategic Partnership Project mission objectives; 4. science, technology and engineering; 5. operations and infrastructure; and 6. leadership.cns

Overall, the contractor’s score was 57 out of 100, and CNS got some of its lowest scores on performance areas that carry the most weight on fees, such as a “satisfactory” rating on managing the nuclear weapons mission (35 percent of the at-risk fee).

The report’s summary noted that key factors affecting the contractor’s work on the weapons mission were quality issues, conduct of operations issues, timely coordination and receipt of weapons response from the design agencies, and a work stoppage at Pantex that was associated with negotiations on a new bargaining agreement. Continue reading

A little crowded at UPF?

As noted before, the folks at the Uranium Processing Facility have been a little secretive about work on the multi-billion-dollar government project. Among other things, they’ve declined to release information on the cost of office space being leased in Commerce Park for the design and engineering activities. The project activities were consolidated there over the past six months.KCLO_END_UPF-02_MP (2)

In 2013, the project team indicated the cost of leased facilities was about $2.2 million annually, but the team is bigger now — reportedly more than 900 people.

I recently asked Consolidated Nuclear Security, the government’s managing contractor at Y-12, about reports of overcrowding at the two UPF facilities in Commerce Park and whether the UPF workforce was exceeding the occupancy limits. I’d received reports of employees having to stand in line to use the restrooms and a report that the parking lots were filled by 6:30 a.m., with others having to catch shuttles to the site. Continue reading

CNS awards $180K to dozens of nonprofit groups

686929 loresMike and Suzy Kitchens of Smoky Mountain Service Dogs talk with Y-12 Site Manager Bill Tindal, right, at a recent celebration for nonprofits that received grants from Consolidated Nuclear Security’s  Y-12 Community Investment Fund. The nonprofit organization acquires and trains service dogs to help disabled veterans at no cost to the recipients. (Y-12 photo)

Consolidated Nuclear Security, the government’s managing contractor at Y-12, announced that an employee-directed fund had provided grants totaling $180,000 to 30 nonprofit organizations in East Tennessee. The fund, which is known as the Y-12 Community Investment Fund, is administered by the East Tennessee Foundation. Continue reading

NNSA releases performance details for Y-12/Pantex contractor’s first report card

As  noted last December, when the performance scores and fee totals became available for Consolidated Nuclear Security’s first report card, the Y-12/Pantex contractor received an overall score of 57 (out of 100) and earned about $42.6 million (out of a maximum pool of $51.2 million). In a message to employees at the two sites, then-President Jim Haynes expressed his disappointment.Basic RGB

Now, several months later, the National Nuclear Security Administration has finally released the performance evaluation for the government contractor — a partnership that’s headed by Bechtel and includes Lockheed Martin and other companies — and it provides a more detailed look at why CNS received a low score for the period ending Sept. 30, 2015.

Some of the language is pretty blunt, such as this excerpt from the NNSA’s assessment of operations and infrastructure (which accounts for 35 percent of the at-risk fee): Continue reading

Issues at Stack 110

stack110It seems there’s been a recent trend of problems at Stack 110, a key emissions point in the old uranium-processing complex known as Building 9212. Significant improvements were made at the site a few years ago, combining two emission stacks as part of a risk-reduction program. But issues seem to keep cropping up there.

Early this year, casting operations with enriched uranium were paused at 9212 because a couple of feet of water had collected in a “discharge tube” below Stack 110’s dust collector. That raised questions about criticality safety that warranted a closer look. Continue reading

Safety Forum on Wednesday

A Community Safety Forum will be held Wednesday morning at the American Museum of Science and Energy, beginning at 8 a.m.

The two-hour forum is sponsored by the Oak Ridge Business Safety Partnership, a coalition of government agencies, contractors, labor unions and other parties in the community.

The theme of Wednesday’s event is “Safety Culture: It’s a Community Thing.” Continue reading

Y-12 completes waste milestone 2 years ahead of schedule

y12signThe government announced Monday that the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge had completed the disposal of 2,247 containers of so-called mixed waste – containing both radioactive materials and hazardous chemicals – more than two years ahead of schedule.

The federal plant was required to get rid of the stored wastes by September 2018 under terms of a commissioner’s order from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. The mandate is part of an agreed-upon Site Treatment Plan for dealing with legacy wastes generated decades ago by facilities on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge reservation.

According to the announcement by the National Nuclear Security Administration, most of the wastes were shipped to EnergySolutions’ disposal facility near Clive, Utah. The other containers were sent to the Nevada National Security Site for burial. Continue reading

Travis Howerton’s new role

howertonTravis Howerton’s young career has been filled with accomplishments in a variety of roles, federal and contractor, and he’s got a new job with Consolidated Nuclear Security — the government’s managing contractor at the Y-12 and Pantex nuclear weapons plants.

Howerton is a Bechtel affiliate with CNS, and his title is senior director for enterprise strategy. He said he will be leading the Business System Modernization Project to consolidate the ERP (enterprise resource planning) systems at the two sites and to merge business processes. Continue reading

‘No measurable exposure’

As noted in a recent post, there have been more than 50 “events” in which radioactive materials were uncovered during the site preparation for the Uranium Processing Facility over the past couple of years, including a big piece of rad metal discovered on March 9. A government spokesman said the discoveries were an “anticipated project risk” at the old nuclear site.

Asked for some context on the hazards of the radioactive materials recently found buried at the site, National Nuclear Security Administration spokesman Steven Wyatt provided this response by email: Continue reading

Pondering repairs in Y-12’s production complex

y12overviewI received an unconfirmed report that Y-12 management is planning to tear down a small  facility near Beta-2 (Building 9204-2) in order to install scaffolding to do repair work on Beta-2 — which houses the plant’s weapons work with lithium. There have been a number of problems at Beta-2 in recent years, including chunks of concrete falling from the ceiling.

The reported plan to demolish the “Beta-2 annex” apparently hasn’t met with favor among some workers, one of whom described it as a “perfectly good building” that’s home to about 40 employees. The unconfirmed report also suggested this approach could cost as much as $3 million.  Continue reading

Rad legacies an ‘anticipated project risk’

Steven Wyatt, a spokesman in the National Nuclear Security Administration, today provided an email response to questions about the radioactive metal uncovered last month during site preparation for the Uranium Processing Facility.

“The contaminated debris was discovered on March 8 when the USACE (U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) was performing work in support the UPF Site Infrastructure and Services Subproject. The debris included two contaminated metal pallets.  Encountering contaminated items is an anticipated project risk for the UPF work scope.  The work remains on budget and schedule.”