Y-12 donates $8,500 for Scarboro graduates, honoring Oak Ridge 85

Dorothy Kirk Lewis and L.C. Gipson, members of the Oak Ridge 85, hold the check representing the $8,500 donation from Consolidated Nuclear Security given in their honor. (Photo courtesy CNS/Y-12)

At the conclusion of a school year during which Oak Ridge commemorated the 65th anniversary of the integration of Oak Ridge High School and Robertsville Junior High, the Scarboro Alumni Association received an $8,500 donation for their scholarship endowment.

Consolidated Nuclear Security, the managing and operating contractor of Y-12 National Security Complex made the donation at the Scarboro Community Center on May 26 in honor of the 85 Black students who integrated Oak Ridge schools in 1955, a press release said. The endowment provides scholarships to selected high school seniors who have an association with the Scarboro community and who choose to continue their education.

Little-known history

The Oak Ridge 85, as they are known, consisted of 85 students who integrated Robertsville Junior High and Oak Ridge High School on September 6, 1955. They were the first students to integrate a public school in the southeastern United States, the press release said.

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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.”

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New fire station, emergency operations center being built at Y-12

A new fire station is being built at the Y-12 National Security Complex. Above, NNSA, Consolidated Nuclear Security, and Y-12 Fire Station leaders toss the first shovels of dirt for the new fire station on Tuesday, April 27, 2021. (Photo by Y-12)

A new fire station and emergency operations center are being built at the Y-12 National Security Complex.

They are pilot projects designed to streamline the efficiency and delivery of specific construction projects under $50 million, the National Nuclear Security Administration said in a press release.

The NNSA, which is part of the U.S. Department of Energy, and Y-12 managing and operating contractor Consolidated Nuclear Security had a groundbreaking ceremony for the fire station on Tuesday. A few blocks away, the emergency operations center (EOC) is already under construction.

The fire station replaces one built in 1947, and the EOC will be the home of the site’s operations center, which is currently located in a World War II-era building. “Together, these new facilities will replace two outdated buildings and enhance our emergency response capabilities,” said Gene Sievers, Y-12 site manager.

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Y-12 transitioning back to normal operations with telework

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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