Former Wackenhut security officer indicted for theft of public funds

KNOXVILLE—A federal grand jury in Knoxville has indicted a former security officer at a federal site in Oak Ridge for allegedly stealing U.S. government property and money laundering, officials said Thursday.

Sarah Parker, 52, of Dandridge, Tennessee, was indicted Tuesday, U.S. Attorney William C. Killian said in a press release. Parker was employed as an officer for security contractor Wackenhut Services Inc. at the East Tennessee Technology Park, the former K-25 site in Oak Ridge.

She appeared in court on Thursday before U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley Jr. and pleaded not guilty to the charges in the three-count indictment, Killian said. She was released pending trial, which has been set for February 17, 2015, in United States District Court in Knoxville. [Read more…]

Burgan named assistant procurement manager at DOE Oak Ridge

Jeff Burgan

Jeff Burgan (DOE photo/Lynn Freeny)

Jeffrey R. Burgan was recently named assistant manager for procurement and contracts at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office.

In his new position, Burgan leads a staff of 30 federal employees and is responsible for overseeing, administering, and support of procurement and financial assistance awards servicing site management offices for the Department’s Office of Science national laboratories across the United States, a press release said.

His responsibilities also include contractual management of the Nuclear Energy Oak Ridge Site Office and the ORO Small Business Program. [Read more…]

Update: Y-12 spill involved less than one gallon of flammable solvent

Y-12 National Security Complex Scarboro Road Entrance

The Scarboro Road entrance to the Y-12 National Security Complex is pictured above in March 2014. (File photo)

Note: This story was last updated at 3:34 p.m.

The chemical spill at the Y-12 National Security Complex on Tuesday morning involved less than one gallon of a flammable solvent, and the substance has evaporated, a federal official said Tuesday afternoon.

The spilled solvent was acetonitrile, and it’s used in chemical processing at Y-12’s Purification Facility, said Steven Wyatt of the National Nuclear Security Administration.

It spilled onto the floor at about 10:24 a.m. Tuesday. The cause is unknown. The spill was detected by sensors. There was no fire and no injuries.

Wyatt said the acetonitrile was not involved in uranium enrichment work at Y-12. [Read more…]

Update: Y-12 chemical spill contained; less than 10 workers in building at time of spill

Y-12 Aerial Photo June 2012

The Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge is pictured above in June 2012. (Photo courtesy NNSA)


Note: This story was last updated at 1:12 p.m.

The Purification Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge was evacuated Tuesday morning after a chemical spill, officials said. Fewer than 10 people were in the building at the time of the spill, and none were in the immediate area.

There were no injuries, and federal officials and Y-12 staff have accounted for all workers, the National Nuclear Security Administration said.

The spilled material is acetonitrile, a liquid solvent used in chemical processing operations, said Steven Wyatt of the NNSA.

Everyone was evacuated from the building, which is on the east end of the plant, Wyatt said. The spill was reported at 10:24 a.m. Tuesday.

[Read more…]

Remembered as a model community volunteer, Myrick died Sunday

Tim and Teresa Myrick with ADFAC Bow Tie Award

Tim Myrick, left, received the 2014 Bill Wilcox Bow Tie Award from ADFAC on Oct. 30. Pictured with Myrick at Y-12’s New Hope Center is his wife Teresa. (Photo courtesy ADFAC)

Note: This story was last updated at 3:30 p.m.

Tim Myrick, one of the area’s most active community volunteers, died Sunday morning. He was at home with his wife Teresa by his side.

Friends are remembering him as a model community leader and volunteer. Myrick, who had been battling prostate cancer, had provided decades of service to the church and to Aid to Distressed Families of Appalachian Counties, or ADFAC, as well as to Habitat for Humanity of Anderson County. He played a key role in the renovation of Oak Ridge High School and modernization work at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. In 2012, he and Teresa pledged $25,000 to the Oak Ridge Public Schools Education Foundation’s “Making the Critical Difference” campaign for grants and scholarships.

“We sure lost a strong advocate for our community,” said friend D. Ray Smith, who serves on both the ADFAC and Habitat for Humanity boards. [Read more…]

Piper, Prine win 2014 Postma Young Professional Medals

Cortney Piper and Betsy Prine

Cortney Piper, left, and Betsy Prine, right (Photo courtesy East Tennessee Economic Council)


Cortney Piper and Betsy Prine received Postma Young Professional Medals on Friday at the East Tennessee Economic Council’s annual year-end celebration.

The Postma Medal was created by the East Tennessee Economic Council to honor the accomplishments of young professionals who have made an impact and fostered a community culture in the region. Former Oak Ridge National Laboratory director Herman Postma epitomized this spirit during his life, and his wife Pat continues the tradition of service today through her involvement in the Oak Ridge community. Pat Postma made the award presentation at the Council’s annual meeting on Friday at the DoubleTree Hotel. [Read more…]

Mason, Coffey receive 2014 Muddy Boot Awards

Thom Mason and David Coffey

Thom Mason, left, and David Coffey, right (Photo courtesy East Tennessee Economic Council)


Two titans of East Tennessee’s business community were honored Friday with the Muddy Boot Award, given by the East Tennessee Economic Council in an ongoing tribute to individuals who through their work and activities build a better community.

This year’s honorees were Thom Mason, director of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and leader of other  state and local organizations, and David Coffey, a serial entrepreneur, past member of the Tennessee General Assembly, and a leader in promoting better education in the state.

ETEC also presented two Postma Young Professional Medals. Betsy Prine, a vice president of Gilmartin Engineering Services, and Cortney Piper, principal of Piper Communications, received the medals. The Economic Council’s annual celebratory event was keynoted by Tennessee Commissioner of Finance and Administration Larry Martin. University of Tennessee President Joe DiPietro and Pete Craven also participated, with the event chaired by Bonnie Carroll of Information International Associates. [Read more…]

Alexander: Spending bill includes $440 million for ORNL supercomputer, UPF at Y-12

U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander

Lamar Alexander

The $1 trillion spending bill passed by the Senate on Saturday night includes more than $400 million in funding to support two Oak Ridge projects—building the world’s fastest supercomputer at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex, U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander said.

The appropriations legislation avoids a government shutdown and funds most of the government through September. The Senate approved it in a bipartisan 56-40 vote, and it now goes to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.

The spending bill cleared the House on Thursday. Liberals sought to strip out a policy provision that eases a Wall Street regulation, and conservatives tried to slow action on immigration. [Read more…]

Senate passes Manhattan Project park bill that includes Oak Ridge

Manhattan Project Park Sites

Note: This story was last updated at 11 a.m. Dec. 14.

House approved bill last week; legislation now headed to President Obama

After years of work, the U.S. Senate has passed a bill to set up a Manhattan Project National Historical Park that includes Oak Ridge, a once-secret city that played a key role in ending World War II. The legislation passed the U.S. House last week, and it now goes to President Barack Obama, who is expected to sign it into law.

Besides Oak Ridge, the park will include Los Alamos, New Mexico, and Hanford, Washington. Those two cities were also part of the Manhattan Project, a top-secret federal program to develop the world’s first atomic weapons during World War II. [Read more…]

Y-12 retirees plan benefits protest at DOE Oak Ridge Office on Thursday

Y-12 Benefits Protest Becky Montgomery

Protesters object Thursday afternoon (December 4) to changes to health insurance benefits announced at the Y-12 National Security Complex in October. At center is Becky Montgomery, who retired from Y-12 in June after 35 years. The demonstrators have planned a second protest on Thursday, December 11, at or near the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office on Administration Road.


Retirees from the Y-12 National Security Complex plan to protest changes to their health insurance benefits in Oak Ridge on Thursday.

It’s the second protest for the retirees, who object to changes scheduled to go into effect under the new Y-12 contractor, Consolidated Nuclear Security, on January 1.

The protest is scheduled from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Thursday, December 11, at or near the U.S. Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge Office on Administration Road. [Read more…]

NNSA: Field work to prepare Y-12 for UPF is on schedule, under budget

UPF Field Work at Y-12

Field work to prepare the Y-12 National Security Complex for building the Uranium Processing Facility is on schedule and under budget, federal officials said. (Photo courtesy NNSA)


Field work to prepare the Y-12 National Security Complex for building the Uranium Processing Facility, or UPF, is on schedule and under budget and has surpassed 500 days without a recordable accident or injury, a press release said.

Site Readiness, the first construction subproject for UPF, began in late spring 2013 and is expected to be completed in winter 2015.

“The Site Readiness subproject is setting the standard for quality UPF construction on budget,” said Don Peters, federal construction manager for the National Nuclear Security Administration’s UPF Project Office. “We’ve accomplished a lot of work in an area that stretches across an approximate five-mile linear footprint.”

The press release said that work either completed or under way includes relocation of Bear Creek Road, including a new bridge; relocation of several potable water lines; rerouting of overhead electrical lines; construction of a haul road; mitigation for wetlands impacted during road construction; development of the west borrow and wet spoils areas to receive soils for later project phases; demolition of a parking lot, a decommissioned guard tower, and other structures; and construction of sediment basins to protect Y-12 natural resources from erosion and sedimentation. [Read more…]

Robbins named deputy manager of NNSA Production Office

Teresa M. Robbins

Teresa M. Robbins

Teresa M. Robbins has been named deputy manager for the National Nuclear Security Administration Production Office, or NPO.

In her new role, Robbins is responsible for day-to-day management and tactical execution of NPO activities. NPO is responsible for contract management and technical oversight of the consolidated contract at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge and Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas.

“Ms. Robbins has a wealth of technical and project management experience and excellent personnel management skills,” said Steve Erhart, NPO manager. “She is a great addition to the senior executive team in NNSA.”

Robbins has more than 20 years of experience in nuclear facility operations, engineering, safety analysis, maintenance, and risk analysis within the U.S. Department of Energy complex, a press release said. She previously held several leadership positions at NNSA, where she served as the deputy federal project director for the Uranium Processing Facility project, and more recently as acting senior scientific and technical adviser and then as the acting assistant manager for environment, safety, health, and quality for NPO. [Read more…]