B&W Y-12: President, general manager leaving at end of January, sends message to employees

Chuck Spencer

Chuck Spencer

Note: The following is a copy of the message that B&W Y-12 President and General Manager Chuck Spencer sent to employees on Friday.

I wanted to be the first to tell you about these organizational changes, but given the speed of media you may have already heard them from other sources. If so, I apologize.

When I arrived at Y‑12 in August of 2012, the site had just experienced a significant security event and was at a very low point. However, we immediately set about to work together to rebuild security and to regain the confidence of our many stakeholders. To do that, we have gone through much change and worked tirelessly. What I am most proud of is how we immediately became more introspective. How we all began to question virtually every aspect of our business. Not just security, but operations, maintenance, our assurance system, development, engineering, etc. We did this not because we were performing poorly in these areas, but because that is what a good company does. It is willing to look at itself with a critical eye so that it can be the best at what it does. I am very proud of what you have accomplished in the year and a half you have allowed me to be a part of your team and am confident that you are well prepared for a great future. Given that, it is with mixed emotions that I need to inform you that I plan to return to my position as chief operating officer for B&W’s Technical Services Group. [Read more…]

Report: Y-12 security officer likely pulled the trigger on weapon that fired

Y-12 National Security Complex Sign

An investigation has concluded that a security officer at the Y-12 National Security Complex probably inadvertently pulled the trigger when a weapon fired inside a “hardened” vehicle in July, discharging one round and slightly injuring two guards.

An investigation has concluded that a security officer at the Y-12 National Security Complex probably inadvertently pulled the trigger when a weapon fired inside a “hardened” vehicle in July, discharging one round that hit an interior wall and produced fragments, and slightly injuring two guards.

The accidental discharge occurred just after midnight on July 28, which, coincidentally, was the one-year anniversary of the July 28, 2012, security breach at Y-12.

The National Nuclear Security Administration said little after the accidental discharge. But the agency did acknowledge that two security police officers, or SPOs, received minor injuries and were treated at Y-12 before being taken to Methodist Medical Center of Oak Ridge, where they were treated and released. The NNSA also said the incident was under investigation.

Now, officials have concluded a four-month investigation, and B&W Y-12, the plant’s managing and operating contractor, has released a summary of the findings. [Read more…]

B&W Y-12 donates $75,000 for new Emory Valley Center building

Emory Valley Center Early Learning Center

B&W Y-12 donated $75,000 to Emory Valley Center on Wednesday as part of a capital campaign to help build a new facility to replace the former Daniel Arthur Rehabilitation Center on Emory Valley Road by 2015.

Fundraisers at 75 percent of goal

B&W Y-12 donated $75,000 on Wednesday to help the Emory Valley Center build a new facility by early 2015, when a county-owned building that houses some of its programs is expected to be torn down.

B&W Y-12 has now donated $175,000 of a $250,000 pledge, and EVC volunteers have raised $2.5 million of their $3.3 million goal, said former state representative and pediatrician Gene Caldwell, who is co-chair of the EVC capital campaign. That’s 75 percent of the fundraising goal.

Emory Valley Center now has two facilities across the street from each other on Emory Valley Road. The new 30,000-square-foot building west of the current administrative and workshop areas on the south side side of Emory Valley Road would consolidate the nonprofit’s operations, which include an Early Learning Center, gym, offices, kitchen, and work training center.

“This is a huge, huge help,” EVC President Jennifer Enderson of the B&W Y-12 donation. “The clock is ticking on when we must vacate an existing facility, and we can’t start construction of the new one until we have raised enough money.” [Read more…]

Y-12 receives two significant safety awards

For the 10th consecutive year, the Y‑12 National Security Complex received the National Safety Council’s Occupational Excellence Achievement award. This award recognizes companies, units, or facilities that have reported injuries and illnesses that involved days away from work equal to or less than 50 percent of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics rating for their industry and have had no fatalities during a calendar year.

“We want to reduce our lost workday case rate to zero,” said B&W Y-12 President and General Manager Chuck Spencer. “During calendar year 2012 (for which this award was given), our rate was 0.17. The comparable industry incident rate is 1.6. Y-12 employees can be proud of making safety a value in their daily lives.”

The second award received was the U.S. Department of Energy Voluntary Protection Program Star of Excellence. As the award states, employees have “achieved an outstanding level of performance in meeting established safety and health goals, actively conducting outreach to others and in achieving an injury and illness rate significantly below the average of similar businesses and operations.” [Read more…]

Shutdown ends: Oak Ridgers relieved, but frustrated with Congress

Dean's Restaurant and Bakery

Dean Russell, co-owner of Dean’s Restaurant and Bakery in Jackson Square, has put up a sign expressing frustration with Congress over the government shutdown. Pictured above are restaurant servers Cassandra Prater, right, and Andy Tatum.

The end of the government shutdown last week brought relief to Oak Ridge, especially at the Y-12 National Security Complex, where up to about 3,600 workers were expected to be furloughed starting last Thursday unless a deal was reached.

Chuck Spencer, general manager of B&W Y-12, which manages and operates Y-12, told workers on Thursday that a shutdown to minimum staffing had been averted and the furloughs would no longer be necessary. There had been reports that only about 900 workers might have remained starting today.

Spencer said the nuclear weapons plant, which started an orderly shutdown two weeks ago on Monday, Oct. 7, will begin planning to resume normal operations.

Normal operations resumed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory on Thursday, Director Thom Mason said in a message to staff. ORNL had enough funding to continue operating through October and into November, but officials had started preparing for a possible temporary shutdown and unpaid furloughs in case the shutdown continued.

Oak Ridge residents remained frustrated even after Congress and the White House reached a last-minute, short-term spending agreement late Wednesday night that averted the shutdowns and furloughs, just hours before a deadline to raise the nation’s debt ceiling and after some local businesses had already reported that the shutdown had affected their operations. [Read more…]

Congressman: House votes to fully fund Y-12 during government shutdown

U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann

Chuck Fleischmann

Note: This story was last updated at 5:22 p.m.

The federal government remains shut down over a funding dispute, but the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Friday morning that would fully fund the Y-12 National Security Complex and other security functions, Congressman Chuck Fleischmann said.

Fleischmann, a Tennessee Republican whose district includes Oak Ridge, called it a matter of national security. Y-12 is one of the nation’s nuclear weapons plants, but it started an “orderly shutdown” on Monday because Congress has failed to pass a spending bill in the fiscal year that started Oct. 1.

Fleischmann expressed concern about the shutdown in a speech on the House floor. [Read more…]

Y-12 starts shutdown as Congress fails to approve federal spending

Y-12 National Security Complex Aerial View

With Congress unable to agree on a federal spending bill, the contractor at the Y-12 National Security Complex, pictured above, has been told to start an “orderly shutdown.” (Photo courtesy B&W Y-12)

With Congress unable to agree on a spending bill and the federal government shut down for a week, the Y-12 National Security Complex has been told to start its own “orderly shutdown.”

Chuck Spencer, general manager of B&W Y-12, which manages and operates the plant, said officials hope that furloughs can be avoided, or that they won’t last long.

The shutdown activities are supposed to put the nuclear weapons plant into a safe and secure status.

A spokesman at the National Nuclear Security Administration in Washington, D.C., wasn’t immediately available to answer such questions as how long the shutdown might take or whether some nuclear-related activities might continue at Y-12. In addition to its weapons work, Y-12 retrieves and stores nuclear materials, fuels the nation’s naval reactors, and performs complementary work for other government and private-sector entities. [Read more…]

B&W Y-12, ATLC continue tradition, donate $15,000 to March of Dimes

B&W Y-12 and ATLC Donate to March of Dimes

B&W Y-12 President and General Manager Chuck Spencer, left, March of Dimes Executive Director Susan Racek, and Atomic Trades and Labor Council President Steve Jones with a $15,000 donation to help improve the health of all babies. (Submitted photos)


B&W Y-12 and Atomic Trades and Labor Council marked the 15th year of the Y-12 National Security Complex’s support of The March of Dimes Tennessee Chapter with a $15,000 donation to advance maternal and infant health in the East Tennessee Community.

“B&W Y-12 and the ATLC have been incredible supporters of our work to help fund research and projects in East Tennessee communities,” said Susie Racek, executive director for March of Dimes East Tennessee Divisions. “They have been instrumental in supporting projects in the local hospital NICUs (neonatal intensive care units) and, in particular, funding and helping create the ‘Butterfly Room’ in East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, where families of premature babies who will not be going home can privately spend their last moments with the child.” [Read more…]

B&W Y-12 signs two new Mentor-Protégé agreements

B&W Y-12 and BES Technologies Agreement

Erik Connard, BES Technologies chief executive officer, signs a Mentor-Protégé agreement with B&W Y-12 President and General Manager Chuck Spencer. Looking on are, from left, BES Technologies’ Shannon Eaker, chief scientific officer, and Brian Quinley, chief operating officer; Lisa Copeland, B&W Y-12 Socioeconomic Programs manager, and mentor Tom Ford, manager of B&W Y-12’s Industrial Hygiene organization. (Submitted photos)

B&W Y-12 recently signed agreements with two new protégés—BES Technologies and The Molecular Group. The companies join eight other groups currently involved in Y-12’s Mentor-Protégé program.

“We are proud to have these two participants in our Mentor-Protégé program,” said B&W Y-12 President and General Manager Chuck Spencer. “These relationships significantly contribute to Y-12 achieving its objectives of promoting technological growth and business development opportunities. I believe that all parties will benefit from these partnerships.” [Read more…]

Y-12 neutron detector wins R&D 100 Award

Y-12 Neutron Detector

Ashley Stowe, Y‑12 senior development chemist, working with Fisk University, developed a single-crystalline device that will be used in handheld nuclear nonproliferation and homeland security applications. (Submitted photo)

A Y-12 nuclear nonproliferation technology offering significant possibilities in the homeland security field was among those listed on the R&D Magazine 51st Annual R&D 100 Awards. The honor salutes the 100 most technologically significant products introduced into the marketplace during the past year.

The LISeTM, a high-efficiency thermal neutron detector based on the 6LiInSe2 crystal, is the first large, single-crystal semiconductor of high resistivity that contains lithium and directly detects thermal neutrons with high efficiency. The single-crystalline device will be used in handheld nuclear nonproliferation and homeland security applications to find fissile materials. Its simpler, more compact design, and higher efficiency are key improvements that will appeal to users. [Read more…]

B&W Y-12 names Bill Tindal vice president for production

Bill Tindal has been named B&W Y-12 vice president for production, effective July 26. He is replacing Joel Duling, who has accepted a position at Nuclear Fuel Services, a subsidiary of Babcock & Wilcox Nuclear Operations Group Inc., in Erwin, Tenn.

“Bill is uniquely suited for this role given his production expertise and years of experience,” said B&W Y-12 President and General Manager Chuck Spencer. “Joel has done a great job for Y-12, and we are excited for him and wish him well in his new opportunity.” [Read more…]

Responding to traffic delays, Y-12 asks for volunteers to start work later beginning July 8

Y-12 National Security Complex Traffic

Responding to morning traffic delays, particularly at its east entrance on Bear Creek Road, the Y-12 National Security Complex has asked some employees to volunteer to start their work day later after July 8.

Responding to morning traffic delays at its entrances, the Y-12 National Security Complex has asked some employees to volunteer to come into work later in the day starting July 8.

Significant traffic delays have been an issue since a lost driver who did not have a badge or permission to be at Y-12 said she was waved into the nuclear weapons plant on June 6.

Since then, Y-12 officials have said the plant has changed its approach to checking badges at the east and west gates. The more rigorous security checks are “here to stay,” B&W Y-12 General Manager Chuck Spencer said in a June 27 message to employees.

But the new procedures have led to traffic delays, particularly at the east entrance between 5:15 and 6:15 a.m., when vehicles can back up as far as the former Dean Stallings Ford on South Illinois Avenue. [Read more…]