B&W Y-12 responds to NNSA’s show cause letter

Posted: September 12, 2012 - 3:29pm

On September 10, B&W Y‑12 provided its response to the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) show cause letter regarding concerns at the Y‑12 National Security Complex following the July 28 trespassing event. In preparing its response, B&W Y‑12 gathered input from WSI-Oak Ridge, which was operating under separate contract to NNSA for the security force at the site when the event occurred.

Although B&W Y‑12’s response to the NNSA is not publicly available due to sensitivities related to security, B&W Y‑12 President and General Manager Chuck Spencer stated, “The July 28 event brought to light gaps in our maintenance and security operations, and we are using it as a catalyst for a comprehensive and objective examination of all our operations. As a result, a series of extent-of-condition reviews are ongoing throughout Y‑12. Specific to our show cause response, we believe we have demonstrated a compelling case for NNSA to continue our contract.”

In its response to the show cause letter, B&W Y‑12 noted that NNSA’s decision to appoint B&W Y‑12 as the single point of accountability for security gives one contractor sole responsibility for all operations at the Y‑12 site. With overall accountability for the combined security function, B&W Y‑12 continues to monitor WSI-Oak Ridge’s performance and to assess whether the subcontractor model provides sufficient integration for successful security operations.

As the Y‑12 management and operations contractor (M&O), B&W Y‑12 has stepped up and assumed the leadership responsibility necessary to make the warranted and integrated changes to prevent any future occurrences. Such actions included the removal and replacement of key leadership personnel to both B&W Y‑12 and WSI-Oak Ridge. Chuck G. Spencer, a change agent whose strengths include the institution of disciplined nuclear operations with rigorous conduct of operations and security, was named President and General Manager of B&W Y‑12. Other B&W Y‑12 personnel appointments included Rodney Johnson, Deputy General Manager of Security, who has previously demonstrated his ability to increase the performance of safeguards and security and the Protective Force, and Linda Bauer, Vice President, Facilities, Infrastructure and Services.

Over the course of the past six weeks, B&W Y‑12 has implemented significant corrective actions. All critical security system elements have been restored to service; security cameras have been repaired, adjusted and performance tested; and security-related maintenance must now be performed on critical system elements within 24 hours of an identified problem. The WSI-Oak Ridge Protective Force has been extensively retrained and performance tested. The testing was also integrated with security systems performance testing. Through multiple corrective measures, daily site-wide alarms have been significantly reduced and Protective Force alarm responses have improved.

In the show cause response, B&W Y‑12 also noted that as the M&O contractor over the past 12 years, the company has significantly exceeded the primary terms and expectations of its contract with NNSA. When B&W Y‑12 first assumed responsibility for the site, Y‑12 faced considerable operational challenges. Since B&W Y‑12 became the site M&O contractor, Y‑12’s production capacity has increased significantly; more than 1.3 million square feet of aging facilities have been demolished and Star Status in the Department of Energy’s Voluntary Protection Program has been achieved, just to name a few of the many B&W Y‑12 achievements.

“B&W Y‑12 has the commitment and capability to execute its contractual responsibilities and fulfill its mission at the highest level of performance,” Spencer continued. “We will continue our path forward for improvements, and will embed and make them long lasting at Y‑12.”

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