A federal contractor is limiting the number of employees who can ride a bus at one time to the Uranium Processing Facility construction site at the Y-12 National Security Complex and started the process of staggering shifts at the project to help keep workers separated from each other as the world tries to slow the spread of COVID-19, a contagious respiratory illness that can be deadly.
The changes at Y-12 were disclosed on Wednesday by the plant operator, Consolidated Nuclear Security, in response to questions from Oak Ridge Today after a plant employee tested positive for COVID-19 on Monday.
Oak Ridge Today had asked about construction workers being bused to the Uranium Processing Facility construction site from the east side of Y-12 each morning and whether the confirmation of a COVID-19 case at the 811-acre plant would affect those construction bus rides, including by possibly requiring employees to have some physical separation on the bus rides.
On Wednesday, CNS said it is reducing the number of workers who can ride a bus at one time to the UPF site. That’s to help allow social distancing, CNS said. Social distancing includes the recommendation that people try to stay at least six feet away from each other to help prevent the spread of COVID-19.
CNS said it is cleaning and sanitizing the buses used to carry workers to the UPF construction site, and the project has started the process of staggering shifts to also help allow social distancing. UPF construction work is continuing, CNS said.
Y-12 has not said where the employee who tested positive for COVID-19 works, and it’s not clear if the person works at UPF or somewhere else.
CNS said the affected employee has been isolated at home after receiving the positive COVID-19 test result, and everyone who is known to have come into direct contact with the employee in the two days prior to the development of symptoms is being contacted and asked to self-quarantine for 14 days. The employee’s work location was disinfected along with all other locations the employee is known to have visited, CNS said.
CNS manages and operates Y-12 and Pantex, both nuclear weapons production sites, for the National Nuclear Security Administration, which is part of the U.S. Department of Energy.