Although it received excellent and very good ratings in some areas, the contractor that manages and operates the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge was stung by unsatisfactory marks for its performance before and during the July 28 security breach and the redesign of the new Uranium Processing Facility.
The National Nuclear Security Administration said the UPF redesign could add $539 million to the project cost and extend its schedule by 13 months. The UPF has been estimated to cost up to $6.5 billion, and plans have called for it to start operating as early as 2023.
The NNSA also said the Y-12 security system and protective force completely failed when three anti-nuclear weapons activists penetrated a high-security Protected Area before dawn on July 28. The three protesters were able to avoid detection and cut through three fences inside Y-12 before spraying paint and splashing human blood on the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, where bomb-grade uranium is stored.
But federal officials awarded “excellent” or “very good” ratings to the contractor, Babcock and Wilcox Y-12 Technical Services LLC, or B&W Y-12, for operations in areas that include environmental and waste management activities, infrastructure improvements, risk reduction initiatives, cyber security, and stockpile and nuclear nonproliferation work.
On Monday, the NNSA released a 27-page report evaluating B&W Y-12‘s performance in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. The NNSA also released performance evaluation reports for six other sites.
Federal officials had earlier released a summary of B&W Y-12’s performance that said the contractor earned a “very good” rating in program activities, a “satisfactory” rating in operations, and a “very good” rating in institutional management and business.
In the full report released Monday, the NNSA called the unprecedented security breach a “major failure.” It awarded “unsatisfactory” ratings for physical security, and safeguards and security program management.
“This rating is based on the complete failure of the security system/protective force response to the Perimeter Intrusion Detection and Assessment System penetration on July 28 and the completely unacceptable implementation and operation of the Argus security system,” the report said. “As implemented, Argus unreliability significantly contributed to the PIDAS penetration event of July 28.”
The evaluation found unacceptable performance in all areas required for successful operations, such as training and qualification, readiness and response, procedures and processes, maintenance, testing, and situational awareness.
The NNSA said B&W Y-12’s response to the security breach was also unsatisfactory.
“Significant federal leadership was required in the absence of contractor leadership and support that was ‘slow, disoriented, and requiring intervention by NNSA Production Office,’” the report said.
In the summary released last month, the NNSA said B&W Y-12 lost a total of $12.1 million in award fees due to the July 28 security breach. That included 100 percent of their possible security-related fee, and a “negative overall management fee adjustment of $10 million.” The contractor earned 58.9 percent of its possible incentive fee, or a total of roughly $35.9 million.
Federal officials said B&W Y-12 has reorganized security and emergency services since the highly publicized breach, established new leadership, started managing the security guard Protective Force, and in general, “reinvigorated the security program with a sense of urgency and focus.”
Important detectors and sensing equipment have been replaced, adequate spare parts are on hand, maintenance times for critical security systems have been reduced, performance testing has been enhanced, and the rates of false and nuisance alarms have been significantly reduced, the report said.
“Because of excellent leadership, B&W has moved the program forward leaps and bounds beyond where it was on July 28,” the report said. However, the contractor has more work to do, federal officials said.
The report also gave B&W Y-12 an “unsatisfactory” rating for its management of the UPF project.
“This rating is based on the facility size (fit) issue that will increase project cost, extend the project schedule, and result in reduced project scope,” the report said.
The UPF design team notified the NNSA that the building would have to be redesigned—it will have to be enlarged—after the design was more than 75 percent complete because the team determined that the equipment and utilities “could not physically fit in the facility and maintain adequate operations and maintenance spaces—nor was there sufficient space margin to allow for design evolution and field changes,” the report said.
Among other things, the report said the UPF project has not been able to meet key milestones, and the management team has been late in identifying that schedule milestones would not be achieved.
The full report rated B&W Y-12 as “very good” in directed stockpile work, campaigns, and plant-directed research and development, and nuclear nonproliferation, naval reactors, and complementary work for others.