Upper East Fork Poplar Creek is pictured above at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge on Friday, May 22, 2020. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

More than 4,000 fish and crayfish were killed by chlorinated water and mercury at the Y-12 National Security Complex in two series of incidents in 2018 and 2021. 

The first series of incidents was likely caused by the release of mercury while crews were cleaning up and removing equipment at the Alpha-4 Building on the west side of Y-12, according to scientists and officials. Alpha-4 is the most contaminated of the four major mercury-contaminated buildings at Y-12. Millions of pounds of mercury were used at Y-12 decades ago to produce nuclear weapons parts. Removing mercury-contaminated buildings, equipment, and soil remains one of the top challenges of cleaning up the Oak Ridge Reservation.

Upper East Fork Poplar Creek is pictured above at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge on Friday, May 22, 2020. (Photo by John Huotari/Oak Ridge Today)

 

More than 4,000 fish and crayfish were killed by chlorinated water and mercury at the Y-12 National Security Complex in two series of incidents in 2018 and 2021.

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CNS donates $10,000 to Oak Ridge High School NJROTC

Oak Ridge High School Principal Garfield Adams, Cmdr. Keith Klemm, Y-12 Site Manager and retired Capt. Gene Sievers, and Chief Ryan Nicholls at a recent ceremony where Consolidated Nuclear Security provided a $10,000 donation to support the Navy Junior ROTC program’s continued excellence. (Photo provided by Oak Ridge High School.)

The Oak Ridge High School Navy Junior ROTC began four years ago with a donation from Consolidated Nuclear Security. As the first class of seniors who have been with the program all four years graduates, CNS is making another significant donation to the program, a press release said.

On May 19, parents and NJROTC community partners attended a ceremony at Oak Ridge High School to celebrate the cadets’ accomplishments. During the ceremony, Y-12 Site Manager and retired U.S. Navy Captain Gene Sievers announced a $10,000 CNS donation for continued support of the program. Other organizations provided scholarships and awards to the cadets, the press release said.

“It’s vitally important to support programs like this in schools,” Sievers said. “Providing these students with a way to explore military careers and leadership while still in high school can significantly affect their career trajectory.”

[Read more…]

For members: CNS violated nuclear safety requirements at Y-12, NNSA says

Y-12 Building 9212
A low-level aerial shot of Building 9212 at the Y-12 National Security Complex.

A federal contractor violated nuclear safety requirements at the Y-12 National Security Complex, according to the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The violations are associated with the accumulations of uranium-235 in a glovebox, furnace, and casting line in Building 9212 at Y-12. The equipment is used to recover and process uranium-235, a fissile material that can be used in nuclear weapons and reactors.

Y-12 Building 9212

A low-level aerial shot of Building 9212 at the Y-12 National Security Complex.

 

A federal contractor violated nuclear safety requirements at the Y-12 National Security Complex, according to the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The violations are associated with the accumulations of uranium-235 in a glovebox, furnace, and casting line in Building 9212 at Y-12. The equipment is used to recover and process uranium-235, a fissile material that can be used in nuclear weapons and reactors.

The buildup of enriched uranium, discovered after hydraulic lines leaked in a glovebox, exceeded limits established by a safety program meant to help prevent a nuclear chain reaction.

An investigation of the uranium accumulations found weaknesses in five areas, according to the NNSA, which is part of the U.S. Department of Energy and overseas nuclear weapons work at sites like Y-12. Among the deficiencies were procedural compliances, evaluations of process changes, the analyses of causes, the establishment of roles and responsibilities, and the implementation of a program meant to prevent inadvertent accumulations.

“The National Nuclear Security Administration considers these deficiencies to be of high safety significance,” Administrator Lisa Gordon-Hagerty wrote in an April 6 letter. “Although there were no actual consequences to the public, workers, or the environment, these deficiencies eroded the barriers preventing a nuclear criticality and could, if left uncorrected, adversely impact nuclear and worker safety at the Y-12 National Security Complex.”

The letter was sent to Morgan Smith, president and chief executive officer of Consolidated Nuclear Security. CNS manages and operates Y-12, as well as the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas, for the NNSA.

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Y-12 recycling sensitive documents, converting into reusable briquettes

The paper disintegrator system at the Y-12 National Security Complex produces paper briquettes to be used by off-site recycling vendors to make compressed paper products. The briquettes are currently reused by a commercial company to make a cellulose binder for construction products, such as asphalt sealants. (Photo courtesy CNS Y-12)

Note: This story was updated at 12:45 p.m. April 21.

The Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge is recycling sensitive documents by disintegrating them and compressing them into paper briquettes, which are used to make a cellulose binder for construction products, such as asphalt sealants.

In Fiscal Year 2019, 270,000 pounds of paper briquettes were recycled, according to Consolidated Nuclear Security, which manages and operates Y-12 as well as the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas.

Sensitive documents generally contain content that is deemed sensitive for business or classification reasons. Y-12 said all of the documents generated at its site, a nuclear weapons production plant, are processed through its Destruction and Recycle, or DAR, facility.

The paper is processed through a disintegrator before it is put into a briquettor. The disintegrated paper meets security specifications for size reduction, CNS said.

[Read more…]

CNS president returned to work last week after work-from-home precaution

Morgan Smith (Photo by CNS)

Morgan Smith, president and chief executive officer of Consolidated Nuclear Security, returned to work last week after temporarily working from home as a precaution. Smith worked from home after he was notified that someone that he had been in brief contact with had reported symptoms that could be related to COVID-19.

But a test of that person was negative for COVID-19, and Smith returned to work on Tuesday, April 7, CNS spokesperson Kathryn King said this week.

Smith had no symptoms, King said.

[Read more…]

Forty-nine COVID-19 cases confirmed at NNSA sites

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.

[Read more…]

CNS president working from home as precaution

Morgan Smith (Photo by CNS)

Note: This story was updated at 5:30 p.m.

Morgan Smith, president and chief executive officer of Consolidated Nuclear Security, which manages and operates the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, is working from home as a precaution after being notified that he was in brief contact with someone earlier in the week who self-reported symptoms that could be related to COVID-19.

The person has been tested but the results aren’t back yet, CNS spokesperson Kathryn King said in response to questions Monday.

“Morgan has no symptoms and is actively teleworking as he leads CNS in completing the mission and responding to the demands created by the global coronavirus pandemic,” King said.

[Read more…]

Y-12: UPF buses now only half-filled at most, cleaned and sanitized

In this picture posted March 3, the roof is being raised at the Uranium Processing Facility Salvage and Accountability Building, and the second elevated deck is being set into place. (Photo courtesy CNS Y-12)

The buses that carry employees to and from the Uranium Processing Facility construction project each day are filled to half of their capacity at most, and the buses are being cleaned and sanitized after each drop-off, a federal contractor said.

Oak Ridge Today asked about the buses after an employee at the Y-12 National Security Complex, where the UPF is being built, tested positive for COVID-19, a contagious respiratory illness that can be deadly.

UPF rotates multiple buses throughout the day to take workers to and from the construction site, said Consolidated Nuclear Security, the federal contractor that manages and operates Y-12 as well as the Pantex Plant northeast of Amarillo, Texas.

[Read more…]

Several Y-12 employees test positive for COVID-19

The Y-12 National Security Complex is pictured above. (Photo courtesy CNS Y-12)

Note: This story was updated at 11:45 a.m. April 8.

Several employees at the Y-12 National Security Complex have tested positive for COVID-19, the contagious respiratory illness that can be deadly, but the contractor that manages and operates the nuclear weapons plant in Oak Ridge declined Wednesday to say how many employees are infected.

Oak Ridge Today has reported on two Y-12 employees who were diagnosed with COVID-19 last week. Since then, the news website has received reports that other employees have also tested positive, possibly six total (including the two already reported). But Y-12 said it could not comment on the total number of cases, and the site did not comment on the condition of those employees.

“As of Wednesday, April 1, 2020, several employees at Y-12 have tested positive for COVID-19,” according to a response to questions from Consolidated Nuclear Security, the federal contractor that manages and operates Y-12 as well as the Pantex Plant northeast of Amarillo, Texas.

“Employees who tested positive and those who have been in contact with affected employees are self-isolating per the CDC’s guidelines,” CNS said. “In cases where employees are from the same organization, everyone working in affected buildings may be sent home as a precaution while the areas are sanitized.”

[Read more…]

Y-12 confirms COVID-19 case

Consolidated Nuclear Security on Monday confirmed a case of a person with COVID-19 at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge.

Information about the case was shared with employees on Monday, March 23.

“The employee is in isolation at home, and affected work areas have been sanitized,” said CNS, which manages Y-12 and another nuclear weapons production plant, the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas.

At Y-12, CNS said other employees who have been in contact with the affected employee have been asked to self-quarantine.

[Read more…]