Category Archives: NNSA

Y-12/Pantex contractor hires more than 650

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.Basic RGB

That’s more than halfway to the hiring target of 1,150 jobs for the two National Nuclear Security Administration sites. The breakdown of hirings by plant was not available. Continue reading

Saddleworn reporter heading out of Dodge

As I finished up a recent Chinese dinner of chicken with black bean sauce, I cracked open my fortune cookie and glanced at the message inside.

“All things have an end,” it said, fittingly enough as I get ready for retirement at the end of the month.munger1

For the past 35 years, maybe a little more, I’ve covered the Department of Energy and its Oak Ridge operations. It’s a news beat I created at the News Sentinel after serving as state editor and realizing the wealth of news potential at the government facilities.

It’s been a pleasantly bumpy ride these many years, with a lot of highlights and some unusual happenings. I’m kind of proud of some of the things accomplished. Continue reading

Orlando shooter had no Y-12 connect

As noted previously, the Orlando nightclub shooter had worked for security contractor G4S since 2007, and the contractor, previously known as Wackenhut, provided security services at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant for more than a decade — from 2000 to 2012. But a federal spokesman at Y-12 confirmed that Omar Mateen had never worked at Y-12 or had any association with the Oak Ridge plant. Continue reading

Mercury cleanup at Y-12 could cost $3B


A sample of soil from Y-12 shows the presence of elemental mercury, a legacy of the plant’s Cold War work on thermonuclear weapons.

The cleanup of  mercury contamination at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant could ultimately cost up to $3 billion, according to a Department of Energy report.

The report, dated February 2016, states that the estimated cost for mercury remediation at Y-121 is between $1 billion and $3 billion. The report was prepared to outline the technology plans for mercury cleanup at Y-12, as well as DOE’s Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

Here’s an excerpt about the Y-12 situation: Continue reading

Revamping facilities is key to Y-12’s uranium future

beta2e-thumb-619x629-19813.jpgThe 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

HEU from Japan arrives at Y-12

The National Nuclear Security Administration today announced that highly enriched uranium from Japan’s Fast Critical Assembly reactor has arrived at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge, where it reportedly will be placed in secure storage and later processed and down-blended to create low-enriched uranium.

“Any use of the enriched uranium or its byproducts shall be subject to all terms of the Agreement for Cooperation and any bilateral agreements between the governments of Japan  and the United States,” the NNSA release stated. Continue reading

Emergency drill at Y-12 on Wednesday

y12security2An 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

Klotz to visit Y-12 later this week


NNSA Administrator Frank G. Klotz will reportedly pay a visit to the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant later this week, arriving Thursday in time for an all-hands meeting and then engaging in unspecified activities on Friday. No word on any special reasons for the visit. Klotz, a retired Air Force lieutenant general who served as commander of the Global Strike Command, was confirmed as head of the National Nuclear Security Administration in April 2014. (Munger photo)

Dangling warhead part

Working with nuclear weapons is a very precise business, but there are times when things don’t go exactly as planned.beta2e2

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

CNS’ fixed fee

Of the total fee of about $42,6 million paid to Consolidated Nuclear Security for the first 15 months on the job at Y-12 and Pantex, about $31.2 million was fixed fee. That’s because the first year of the management contract was done under fixed fee, with only the award for the final three months of Fiscal Year 2015 (July-September) based on performance.Basic RGB

CNS took over management of the Y-12 and Pantex nuclear weapons plants on July 1, 2014, so the first three months of the contract were part of FY 2014. It’s a little confusing, but here is a statement about the Performance Evaluation Report (PER) provided by Steven Wyatt, a spokesman for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Production Office: Continue reading

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