Note: This story was updated at 11:30 p.m. Aug. 12.
Two weeks after an unprecedented security breach, two top executives have retired from the company that manages the Y-12 National Security Complex, and one of them has been replaced.
In a press release, The Babcock and Wilcox Co. announced that Charles “Chuck” G. Spencer is now acting president and general manager for Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services Y-12 LLC, the contractor that manages the plant for the National Nuclear Security Administration. He replaces Darrel P. Kohlhorst, who has retired.
It said William R. Klemm, deputy general manager of operations, has also retired.
The statement didn’t say whether the staff changes were related to the highly publicized July 28 intrusion by three anti-nuclear weapons activists, and it didn’t say who would replace Klemm.
“We are grateful to both Darrel and Bill for their dedicated service to B&W Y-12,” said George Dudich, president of Babcock & Wilcox Technical Services Group Inc., also known as B&W TSG. “We wish them well in their retirement.”
The release said Spencer has more than 25 years of experience in a career focused on NNSA sites and environmental management projects. He most recently served as B&W TSG chief operating officer.
“Chuck will be a real asset at Y-12,” said E. James “Jim” Ferland, B&W president and chief executive officer. “He understands the singular importance of safety and security and is the right person to help lead our efforts going forward.”
The leadership changes at B&W Y-12 are the latest announced after the Saturday, July 28, intrusion into the high-security Protected Area on the west end of Y-12, the nation’s main production facility for many nuclear weapons components. Early that morning, three anti-nuclear weapons activists allegedly crossed fences, reportedly cutting through three of them, and walked into the high-security Protected Area, where they splashed blood and spray-painted slogans on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, where bomb-grade uranium is stored.
Other changes at Y-12 have also been announced. Rod Johnson, deputy general manager for B&W Pantex in Texas, has been assigned to B&W Y‑12 as the deputy general manager for security, and Tom Hayden, the former deputy director of Safeguards, Security, and Emergency Services, has been named as its acting director, replacing Butch Clements, who is retiring.
The security contract with WSI Oak Ridge has been placed under B&W Y-12 rather than the NNSA Production Office, and two administrators at WSI Oak Ridge have been replaced while three security police officers have been suspended.
Nuclear operations at the 811-acre Y-12 plant, which was built during World War II to enrich uranium for atomic weapons, have been temporarily halted, and all employees are undergoing more security training. On Saturday, NNSA spokesman Steven Wyatt in Oak Ridge said about 95 percent of B&W Y-12 workers had finished that training.
Kohlhorst told the Knoxville News Sentinel in June that he was not “ready to retire just yet.”
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