The Y-12 National Security Complex began a transition back to normal operations with as much telework as possible on Thursday, April 30.
It’s a staged transition. That means employees are being brought back incrementally, or in stages. That’s according to a response to questions provided by Kathryn King, spokesperson for Consolidated Nuclear Security, the plant’s managing and operating contractor.
A significant number of employees are teleworking, which means they are working remotely, King said.
Y-12 began limited operations on April 6 and transitioned to mission-critical operations on April 14 because of the COVID-19 global pandemic.
“But the prevalence of the virus in the community has steadily decreased as has the number of employees under quarantine because of a potential exposure to COVID-19,” King said.
COVID-19 is a contagious respiratory illness that can be deadly. Much of Tennessee, including many businesses and schools, were closed in April, and Tennessee Governor Bill Lee had issued a stay-at-home order.
But the stay-at-home order expired April 30, and businesses in most of the state were allowed to re-open starting last week.
In returning to normal operations with maximized telework, Y-12 said it will shift from the “containment” stage of its pandemic response plan back to the “prevention” stage.
“The prevention stage continues to maximize telework among eligible employees and continues measures implemented to protect the health and safety of employees at the site, such as sanitizing all high-traffic areas, limiting group interactions, continuing temperature checks, and emphasizing social distancing,” King said. “Refresher training for employees returning to the site will help further limit the spread of the virus.”
She said the staged transition is meant to ensure safety and security as Y-12 works to resume normal operations in the future.
The plant, which works on nuclear weapons components, among other activities, does not have a set timetable because the timing and course of the pandemic remain undefined.
But, for planning purposes, Y-12 expects the transition from the containment stage back to the state of normal operations with maximized telework will take another two weeks, King said.
She said the change in operating status had not affect the plant’s “mission deliverables.”
“A concerted effort this fiscal year has Y-12 production ahead of required need in a number of key areas,” King said.