Letter from Prison: Y-12 protesters’ statement on second anniversary of break-in

Transform Now Plowshares

Note: This is a copy of a letter sent Monday from the Brooklyn Metropolitan Detention Center by Sr. Megan Rice, on behalf of the Transform Now Plowshares.

We send warm greetings and many thanks to all who actively engage in the transformation of weapons of mass destruction to sustainable life-giving alternatives. Gregory Boertje-Obed (U.S. Penitentiary, Leavenworth, Kansas) Michael Walli (Federal Correctional Institution McKean, Bradford, Pennsylvania), and I are sending you some of our observations and concerns on the second anniversary of our Transform Now Plowshares action.

On July 28, 2012, after thorough study of nuclear issues, and because of our deepening commitment to nonviolence, we engaged in direct action by cutting through four fences at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where the U.S. continues to overhaul and upgrade thermonuclear warheads.

On that day, two years ago, when we reached the building where all U.S. highly enriched (bomb-grade) uranium is stored, we prayed and also wrote messages on the wall, such as “The Fruit of Justice is Peace.” (Realistically, the higher and stronger fences built as a result of our nonviolent incursion can never keep humans safe from inherently dangerous materials and weapons.) We acted humbly as “creative extremists for love,” to cite one of our most important and revered leaders, Martin Luther King Jr.

There are a number of reasons for what we did. We three were acutely mindful of the widespread loss to humanity that nuclear systems have already caused, and we realize that all life on Earth could be exterminated through intentional, accidental, or technical error. [Read more...]

Uranium Processing Facility team signs partnering agreement

UPF Partnering Agreement

The Uranium Processing Facility Project Office and Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC signed a partnering agreement to move forward on delivering the UPF mission. Shown in the photo are, front row, left to right: Bill Priest, CNS; John Eschenberg, UPO; Brian Reilly, CNS; and Dale Christenson, UPO; and back row, left to right: Joe Brown, CNS; Brant Morowski, CNS; Mike Pratt, CNS; Jim Sowers, CNS; Matt Crookshanks, CNS; John Clayton, UPO; Art Haugh, UPO; Laurie Folden, UPO; and Steve Wellbaum, UPO. (Submitted photo)


Officials from the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Uranium Processing Facility Project Office and Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC recently signed a partnering agreement to create a cohesive and effective team united in accomplishment of the Uranium Processing Facility mission.

“The UPF partnering agreement is an important step to ensure our team carries out its mission to deliver a new UPF, a key infrastructure investment for our country, with Building 9212 capabilities, for not more than $6.5 billion by 2025,” said UPF Federal Project Director John Eschenberg.

The agreement also emphasizes a collaborative approach to problem-solving and issue resolution focused on early identification and rapid communication. [Read more...]

Anderson Commission Chair Fritts seeks re-election

Chuck Fritts

Chuck Fritts

Chairman Chuck Fritts is seeking re-election to the Anderson County Commission, representing District 1. District 1 includes the Bull Run and Claxton precincts.

“It has truly been an honor and a privilege to represent the residents of District 1 on the Anderson County Commission,” Fritts said in a press release. “I take very seriously the trust that you have placed in me, and it is my desire that you will allow me to continue to serve you and, working with my fellow commissioners, to move Anderson County forward.”

First elected in 2002, Fritts said he brings valuable experience, knowledge, and leadership to the Anderson County Commission and has worked hard to represent the residents of District 1.

“He has taken this position very seriously and has worked long hours to do the job he felt he was elected to do,” the press release said. “He is not only well-known throughout Anderson County, but also throughout the state of Tennessee.” [Read more...]

Tennessee man pleads guilty in $2.5 million Y-12 extortion case

Y-12 Aerial Photo June 2012

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

KNOXVILLE—A Tennessee man who appeared on the television reality show “The Millionaire Matchmaker” has pleaded guilty in a $2.5 million extortion case involving the former managing contractor at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.

Adam Winters, 26, of Robbins, Tenn., said he had copies of slides that would injure the reputation of the contractor, Babcock and Wilcox Y-12 LLC, and he met with undercover officers on May 23 to exchange the slides for the money he demanded, U.S. Attorney William C. Killian said in a Thursday afternoon press release. Law enforcement officers revealed their identity during that May 23 meeting and arrested Winters.

Earlier, on May 8, Winters had e-mailed Babcock and Wilcox and attempted to email Vice President Joe Biden about the slides, Killian said. After he sent the email, Winters used the Internet and telephone to communicate his threat to injure their reputation through the use of the slides, according to the plea agreement on file with the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Tennessee. [Read more...]

CNS begins managing, operating Pantex, Y-12

Pantex Plant Aerial February 2008

The Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas, is pictured above. (Photo courtesy NNSA)


Two nuclear weapons facilities managed under one contract

Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC on Tuesday assumed full responsibility for managing and operating the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, and Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. The two nuclear weapons facilities perform missions vital to national security, CNS said in a press release.

The National Nuclear Security Administration awarded CNS the contract to consolidate the two facilities under a single contract. During a four-month transition that began March 3, the CNS team prepared to integrate and operate both facilities to deliver their critical missions with safety, security, quality, and cost efficiency, the press release said.

During the course of transition, CNS completed more than 3,000 scheduled actions, brought on board 7,800 employees, inspected more than 400 facilities, reviewed and approved more than 5,000 procedures, consulted with dozens of community leaders and elected officials, and established the structure and processes for managing the two sites as one enterprise, the release said. Transition activities were completed on schedule and under budget. [Read more...]

Y-12, Pantex complete transition to new contractor

Y-12 Aerial Photo June 2012

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


The National Nuclear Security Administration Production Office and Consolidated Nuclear Security have completed one of the largest and most complex contract transitions in the history of the U.S. Department of Energy.

On July 1, Consolidated Nuclear Security, or CNS, assumed the responsibility for managing and operating the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, and the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. CNS replaces B&W Y-12, which had operated Y-12 since 2000, and B&W Pantex, which also had operated Pantex since 2000. The contract includes a total annual operating budget of $1.5 billion and employment of about 8,000 in Tennessee and Texas.

Steve Erhart

Steve Erhart

“The new contract will allow NNSA to continue the safe and secure maintenance of the nuclear weapons stockpile; provide enriched uranium for naval, research, and isotope production reactors; and, support nonproliferation activities to reduce the global nuclear threat,” said Steve Erhart, NNSA Production Office manager. “The conclusion of this transition will bring much needed stability to the thousands of men and women who play an important role in our enduring national security mission. All contract transitions create some change and uncertainty. But, throughout this process, the highly skilled professionals at Pantex and Y-12 have remained focused and dedicated to the safe and secure completion of the mission.”

The consolidated contract will yield significant savings to the U.S. taxpayer over the life of the contract as NNSA and CNS develop more efficient ways of doing business, a press release said. A portion of the generated savings are to be reinvested into aging infrastructure at both sites to improve the working conditions for the Pantex and Y-12 workforce. [Read more...]

Haynes, Erhart: ‘Beginning of new era’ at Y-12, Pantex

Jim Haynes

Jim Haynes

The transition to a new federal contractor is complete at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge and Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas. The new contractor, Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC, began operating the sites Tuesday, July 1.

Here is a message from NNSA Production Office Manager Steve Erhart and Consolidated Nuclear Security Chief Executive Officer Jim Haynes:

Steve Erhart

Steve Erhart

Today marks the beginning of a new era for the Pantex Plant and the Y-12 National Security Complex. For the first time, the two largest NNSA nuclear production sites are consolidated under one contract. Whether you are in Texas or Tennessee, we are now one team delivering our national security mission. [Read more...]

NNSA Production Office: Waltzer receives Gold Medal Award

AMARILLO, Texas—Karl Waltzer, acting deputy manager of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Production Office, has received the NNSA Gold Medal Award in recognition of his distinguished achievements in support of national security programs.

Waltzer was presented the award during a recent visit by NNSA Administrator and retired Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz to the Pantex Plant, located near Amarillo, Texas. Waltzer is retiring after completing 35 years of government service.

The NNSA Production Office, or NPO, oversees operations at the Pantex Plant and the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.

During the ceremony at Pantex, Waltzer was recognized for his outstanding and dedicated leadership and performance, a press release said. [Read more...]

New AMSE director to start July 1, ORNL to operate museum


The American Museum of Science and Energy is on South Tulane Avenue. (Photos by Sara Wise)


Oak Ridge National Laboratory is taking a more active role in Oak Ridge’s American Museum of Science and Energy. ORNL’s Director of Communications David Keim said the lab hopes to find better ways to tell the city’s historical story while reducing costs.

He said that the museum’s current contract with Enterprise Advisory Services Inc. would not be renewed at the end of this month, when ORNL will begin operating AMSE. He said preparations are being made to ensure a seamless transition.

Keim said that the transition was made after a team of museum professionals came to the area. After seeing many of Oak Ridge’s historical sites, such as the former K-25 site and ORNL’s first graphite reactor, they called the sites “remarkable” and the historical story “enormous,” according to Keim.

One of the professionals recommended hiring another museum professional to help with the transition period. David Moore was interviewed and hired to assess the museum as a consultant on a one-year term for ORNL, beginning April 15. [Read more...]

Spotlight: More than 480 visitors tour Y-12 during Secret City Festival

Y-12 Tour James Spicer and Matthew Sellers

Former Y-12 employee James Spicer points out the various ID badges used at the site during its 70-year history to his grandson Matthew Sellers. Spicer and Sellers joined more than 480 visitors who toured Y-12 as part of this year’s Secret City Festival. (Photos by Scott Fraker)


More than 480 visitors toured the Y-12 National Security Complex as part of this year’s Secret City Festival, which was earlier this month.

Y-12 has been giving tours of the site for almost 10 years with guests traveling from all over the world to see a piece of history and learn how the site still is ensuring our country’s security, a press release said.

Tourists from 23 states and the District of Columbia toured the site as part of Oak Ridge’s 12th annual Secret City Festival. Here are two pictures by Y-12 photographer Scott Fraker. [Read more...]

Guest column: B&W Y-12 improved Y-12, made a big difference in the community

David Bradshaw

David Bradshaw

By David Bradshaw

It has been almost 14 years since B&W Y-12 LLC took over operation of the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.

Soon a new contractor will be in charge. Thanks to the work of the B&W Y-12 team and many others, they will inherit a very different and much improved facility.

One only needs to approach Y-12 to see the changes. The first thing you will see is the New Hope Center, built as a public-private partnership and located just outside the secure gates of Y-12 to make sure public access is easy. It has conference space, an outstanding auditorium, and a museum that highlights everything from Y-12’s critical role in the Manhattan Project, to the NASA “moon box” built by Y-12, to Y-12’s role in winning the Cold War. Y-12 had always been a secret place and this space built with the public in mind was a major change.

The modernization process is even more obvious inside the gate. Y-12 completed and opened the new Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility. It’s a state of the art building. The new Uranium Processing Facility will be just as impressive with design work well underway. Both facilities allow the U.S. Department of Energy to close down old buildings that date back to the Manhattan Project. With the HEUMF and UPF in place, Y-12 will be far more efficient with operations not only more secure, but centralized in one place instead of being spread out over several locations. [Read more...]

House Appropriations’ energy, water bill fully funds UPF

U.S. Representative Chuck Fleischmann

Chuck Fleischmann

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday passed an appropriations bill that fully funds the Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Rep. Chuck Fleischmann said.

Fleischmann released this statement after passage of the Fiscal Year 2015 Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations bill:

“First and foremost, I am pleased to announce that this bill will effectively appropriate taxpayer dollars as well as provide strong oversight. The Energy and Water bill will strengthen our national defense and fund essential infrastructure projects while also setting federal spending levels. It fully funds the Uranium Processing Facility, a crucial component of our country’s nuclear security that will be built at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. [Read more...]