The National Nuclear Security Administration on Wednesday said there were 49 confirmed COVID-19 cases at its sites across the country.
The sites include the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge. The NNSA, which oversees work at Y-12, did not say how how many COVID-19 cases there have been among Y-12 employees. The plant is not releasing site-specific numbers of confirmed cases because of operational security concerns, the NNSA said.
Consolidated Nuclear Security, which manages and operates Y-12 for the NNSA, has also declined to say how many COVID-19 cases have been confirmed among Y-12 employees. CNS confirmed the first two cases in March and, when asked about additional cases, would only say that there were several.
In response to COVID-19, Y-12 began limited operations and transitioning to mission-critical operations on Monday. For now, all non-essential personnel will leave the 811-acre nuclear weapons production plant, and employees who can telework will continue to do so.
The construction of the Uranium Processing Facility continues. UPF is the largest federal construction project in Tennessee since World War II, and it is expected to be complete by 2025 at a cost of no more than $6.5 billion.
Y-12 stores, processes, and manufactures uranium components, including for nuclear weapons; helps produce fuel for naval nuclear reactors; and supports nuclear nonproliferation work, among other activities.
Dan Leone, reporter for ExchangeMonitor, reported that the Pantex Plant in Texas, which is also managed by CNS, is also transitioning to minimum mission-critical operations, and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina was already in that state of operations. Another NNSA production site, the Kansas City National Security Campus, hadn’t announced a change in operational status, Leone said.
Besides its production sites, the NNSA also has headquarters and field offices, including in Maryland, Washington, D.C., and Albuquerque, New Mexico; work at Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, and Sandia national laboratories; the Nevada National Security Site; and the Naval Nuclear Laboratory.