Y-12 conducts successful emergency exercise during pandemic
Oak Ridge, Tenn. – The Y-12 National Security Complex successfully conducted its first full-scale emergency exercise since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Y-12 regularly conducts emergency exercises and drills with various scenarios to ensure it can effectively respond to potential emergencies, but the September 1 exercise was the first to include the pandemic safety protocols established by Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS), which operates the site in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.
Approximately 290 personnel were directly involved in the exercise as responders and exercise control personnel, and all successfully implemented COVID-19 controls.
“Conducting a full scale exercise during the COVID-19 epidemic was a huge challenge as the primary consideration was the health and safety of personnel during the exercise,” said Jon Pack, Emergency Management Program Manager. “An exercise safety plan is always utilized for an exercise, but this exercise plan addressed the new hazard of possible COVID-19 exposure.
Throughout the exercise “there was excellent adherence to the COVID-19 controls,” said Susan Morris, NNSA Production Office’s Assistant Manager for Environment, Safety, Health and Quality.
Independent observers from the Department of Energy’s Office of Enterprise Assessments agreed, concluding in their field notes that “NPO and CNS demonstrated that Y-12 can effectively respond to an Operational Emergency while operating under COVID-19 pandemic protocols.”
CNS had already implemented safety protocols, such as mandatory mask usage and social distancing, for the site. Exercise participants adhered to those measures “with some additional actions such as placing Plexiglas shields in some areas of our emergency centers where maintaining six feet social distancing was problematic,” Pack said.
“The most important thing for the general public to understand is that by continuing to perform complex Emergency Management exercises during the COVID-19 epidemic, the Y-12 Site demonstrates the ability to effectively respond to an operational emergency while operating under COVID-19 epidemic protocols in order to ensure that appropriate response measures can be taken to protect the worker, the public, the environment, and national security.”
The previous month, the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, completed its successful full-scale emergency exercise, the first this year in the DOE Complex to be held with COVID-19 pandemic protocols in place. CNS manages both Y-12 and Pantex and had established pandemic protocols at both sites.
Planning for Y-12’s emergency exercise included appropriate COVID-19 precautions.
From taking responders’ temperatures to masks and social distancing, precautions ensured the Y-12 emergency management exercise was conducted safely.
Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC operates the Pantex Plant, located in Amarillo, Texas, and the Y-12 National Security Complex, located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, under a single contract for the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration. CNS member companies include Bechtel National, Inc.; Leidos, Inc.; ATK Launch Systems, Inc.; and SOC LLC. Pantex and Y-12 are key facilities in the U.S. Nuclear Security Enterprise, and CNS performs its work with a focus on performance excellence and the imperatives of safety, security, zero defects and delivery as promised.
Kathryn King, APR
Office (865) 315.5996