WSI Oak Ridge could lose its security contract at the Y-12 National Security Complex if it doesn’t take action to address recent security concerns, B&W Y-12 announced Tuesday.
WSI received a notice of a potential contract termination “for default” on Aug. 31, two days after an unspecified Aug. 29 “on-site personnel incident” that allegedly involved a WSI staff member. However, B&W Y-12 didn’t provide more details in a press release it sent out Tuesday.
“At no time during the personnel incident was there risk to the Y-12 employees, community, or to the special nuclear materials,” the release said.
The personnel incident came about one month after an unprecedented July 28 security breach, when three anti-nuclear weapons activists allegedly sneaked into Y-12, cut through fences, and spray-painted slogans and splashed human blood on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, where bomb-grade uranium is stored.
B&W Y-12 had already given WSI Oak Ridge a “show cause” notice, requiring the security contractor to explain its actions during the July intrusion by the three protesters, Greg Boertje-Obed, Megan Rice, and Michael R. Walli.
The Aug. 11 show cause notice given to WSI came one day after B&W Y-12 received its own “show cause” notice, this one from the National Nuclear Security Administration. That notice gave B&W Y-12, the plant’s management and operating contractor, 30 days to explain why its contract shouldn’t be terminated.
“Moving forward, B&W Y-12 management continues to carefully examine the circumstances that led to the security incursion and make effective improvements that are identified through ongoing internal review processes,” said Charles “Chuck” G. Spencer, president and general manager for B&W Y-12. “We are committed to applying lessons learned to all of our operations in order to maintain the highest levels of performance in security, safety, and quality.”
In the press release, B&W Y-12 also responded to a special report by the U.S. Department of Energy Inspector General that was published last week and found a range of alleged failures at Y-12 that allowed the July 28 security breach, including “ineptitude in responding to alarms” and “failures to maintain critical security equipment.”
Since then, B&W Y-12 said, it has moved quickly to improve security, maintenance, and staffing.
“All of us at B&W Y-12 appreciate the Inspector General’s work in assessing the event of July 28 and making recommendations for security operations improvement,” Spencer said. “We’ve taken dramatic actions and are making major security improvements at the site.”
The changes include a re-assignment of WSI Oak Ridge’s protective forces contract at Y-12. The contract had previously been between the NNSA and WSI, and it has been made a subcontract to B&W Y-12.
“NNSA assigned this contract to B&W Y-12 after the July 28 event, giving B&W Y-12 single-point accountability for security activities,” the press release said.
The release said B&W Y-12 has added physical security experts to review and improve Y-12 systems and processes, and the company has also added “highly experienced professionals to manage site security and maintenance operations to provide strong leadership for these critical functions.” Staff members brought on board so far include Gen. Rodney Johnson, Pantex deputy manager and former head of security, who will oversee all security operations, and Linda Bauer, who has been named head of facilities, infrastructure, and services, the release said.
It said corrective measures have included extensive re-training of the security force, increased security patrols, more fencing, and security camera repairs.
Changes have also been made to the maintenance prioritization system to make sure that maintenance of security systems is addressed quickly and efficiently, the release said.
“A broader review of the lessons learned as they relate to other site operations is currently under way,” it said.
B&W Y-12 is a limited liability enterprise of The Babcock and Wilcox Company and Bechtel National Inc., and it was was selected to operate the Y-12 National Security Complex for the National Nuclear Security Administration in 2000.