Transformation at the Uranium Processing Facility Main Process Building (MPB) has accelerated in the past few months. First level walls are complete, structural steel is going up in the east and west halves, and preparation is underway for second level concrete placements.
“There’s been a lot of progress at the Main Process Building recently,” said MPB Area Manager Matt Nuckols. “We have great construction crews out there, and they’re working hard to keep pace with our schedule. We’re going to continue this momentum through the end of this calendar year and push hard to get the building ready for equipment installation next year.”
UPF carpenters from local union 50 in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, celebrated completion of the first level walls in October. The detail work required for the 28 wall sections was a challenge, and the team will use those lessons learned in planning for placement of the 28- to 54-feet walls for the next level of the building.
Pace is picking up with installation of structural steel in the east and west halves of the building. Keeping materials close and ensuring crane availability has helped drive momentum. Skilled craft employees are placing steel columns that weigh 20 tons each. Work on the east side started first, so ironworkers there are busy installing rebar, embeds, and penetrations to prepare for concrete placements.
“Structural steel is the gateway to upper decking concrete,” Nuckols said. “The crew is really getting after it, knowing our objective is to place the east side second level floor this year.”
The first upper decking concrete placement is scheduled for early November, starting on the far east side. A total of five placements, all with bottom and top rebar layers, are required for each side of the MPB.
Moving beyond construction, the MPB team will start receiving and installing upper commodities, like fire protection headers and cable tray, in the next few months. Equipment deliveries, like process skids and gloveboxes, will start arriving in the spring.
Some of CNS’s most talented scientists and engineers presented at the 2nd Annual CNS Fellows Colloquium, August 20 at Pantex. The all-day event celebrated the addition of two new Fellows and participants heard from the Fellows about the incredible work being done in the fields of uranium, metallurgy, electromagnetics, surveillance, component analysis, and others related to the important and unique work Pantex and Y-12 do for the Nuclear Security Enterprise.
Michelle Reichert, CNS chief operating officer, gave the opening remarks on how the Fellows program encourages innovation in our prime centers of excellence such as high explosives and uranium processing, but also in other designations that help us strive for advancements in these fields.
“We cannot rest on our laurels. We will continue to lead in these fields and advance these vital capabilities for our nation,” she said. “To accomplish these goals, we must engage the best and brightest individuals in the NSE — our CNS Fellows.”
The newest Fellows, one Pantexan and one Y-12er, Neil Koone and John Prazniak, took on the roles of Electromagnetics Fellow and Uranium Fellow, respectively, and were pinned an official member of the fellowship to join Alan Moore (Metallurgy), Lorelei Woods (Pantex Surveillance/Component Analysis), and Vincent Lamberti (Y-12 Surveillance/Component Analysis). Reichert further described what makes the Fellow a valuable asset.
“Working in our most critical capability areas, our Fellows bridge the gap between a shiny new idea and production-scale technology, between our past and the future of our operations,” Reichert said. “Because we are production sites, our Fellows have the unique opportunity to apply new technologies directly to production use.”
All five CNS Fellows gave a keynote offering background, current trends, and future projects in their respective fields. Those in attendance learned about gas sampling operations, electrorefining in uranium processing, Y-12 history and metallurgy, lightning detection and electrostatic discharge, and the future of surveillance. The Fellows’ keynote addresses will be posted online. You can earn professional development hours for Professional Engineer and Project Management Professional credits for each keynote watched. Get supervisor permission before watching videos during work hours. To receive PDH credit, email Ashley Stowe.
The colloquium included a poster session where 20 Pantex and Y-12 presenters highlighted innovative projects taking place at both sites — from 3D printed parts to newly designed buildings.
Next year’s colloquium will take place at Y-12, and other Fellows will be announced to join the ranks in other fields such as lithium/special nuclear material, high explosives, nonproliferation, and advanced manufacturing.
How do you go about adding 800 new storage locations to an already in place building? It’s a project that a team is tackling now at the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility as they add more storage space for rackable can storage boxes.
Project Manager Michael Gilhooly said, “Y-12 canning operations have increased, so we need more storage space for rackable can storage boxes. The project will increase existing RCSB storage capacity inside HEUMF by adding 800 new storage locations.”
The project is being done in phases, so a benefit was leveraging the existing design package, purchase order, and documentation from the first phase of the project to benefit the second and third phases. Another advantage was using the same Construction craft crew from the first phase. The crew’s familiarity with the work provided both cost and schedule efficiencies, allowing the second phase to be completed three weeks ahead of schedule.
“The team was challenged to complete field installation of all 800 new RCSB positions in the bay by September 30. We had to keep Phase 2 activities on schedule in order to achieve our challenge goal,” Gilhooly said.
Working in HEUMF isn’t easy. “Logistics for moving the steel beams into HEUMF, and installing each beam is difficult. Extraordinary communication, coordination, and commitment to the success of this project have been displayed by our Construction craft, Material Management, and HEUMF operations personnel,” Gilhooly said. “This display of teamwork each day is the primary reason for the success of this project thus far.”
Y-12’s Early Career Group sponsored a professional development panel, “Pathway to Success.” The panel discussion featured CNS Vice Presidents Linda Bauer, Dave Beck, and Bill Tindal.
The executive leadership team members shared insights about their career paths with the attendees. Some question topics included their defining career moment, how to successfully navigate road blocks, creating career goals and advice they would give to their early career selves.
When asked about traits and skills for success, Bauer suggested keeping your cool under pressure, be a team player, and be willing to work as hard as you’re asking others to work.
One solid piece of advice from Tindal was to treat your current job like a serious relationship: “Don’t cheat on your job.” He made the point that you should be forward-thinking and work on bettering yourself and your skills, but to never lose focus on your current position.
Beck shared some advice on creating measurable goals and how to be accountable for them. He suggested you ask yourself, “What can I do next year that will make a difference in 100 years?”
Panel attendee Josh Patterson, who works in Projects, said he felt fortunate to participate and gain valuable insight from the panel speakers. He mirrored their comments, saying, “During your early career you can sometimes get caught in the ‘churn’ and feel like the work you’re doing isn’t making a difference. But it does matter now, and it will matter in 100 years.”
The Pantex and Y-12 Fire Departments work to operate as one team — the CNS Fire Department. They often aid the other site establishing best practices across both departments. Most recent collaboration includes the Pantex Honor Guard training of Y-12 Fire Department’s newly created Honor Guard, providing subject matter experts for exercise evaluations across both sites, and having a single team at the Hazardous Materials Challenge at Los Alamos. The two teams work together to have a best-in-class enterprise fire department.
Recently, the two sites helped train each site’s fire department leadership. Assistant Fire Chief Bill Ho-Gland and Assistant Fire Chief Roger Paul collaborated to develop the training and teamed to deliver the training at each site sharing leadership expertise.
“While both sites are different in their daily functions, the emergency response elements are almost identical,” Paul said. “We feel that we can combine the knowledge and experience from both sites to assemble a ‘best-in-class’ enterprise-level fire department.”
CNS Enterprise Emergency Services Senior Director Doug Trout shared, “We want our fire departments to be successful and wanted the leadership training to provide a strong foundation to build upon.”
To help achieve their goal, Ho-Gland and Paul shared pertinent leadership material and expectations with fire officers (captains, battalion chiefs, division chiefs, and assistant chiefs).
Ho-Gland said, “The primary focus of the training is to review and delineate the absolutes between the captains and battalion chiefs at both sites, since these positions are the primary response officers on a given emergency.”
As employees, we hope we don’t need to call on the fire departments for their expertise, but we can rest assured we are in good hands if the fire departments are needed.
“The fire departments at both sites are among the most trained and equipped responders in the country,” Paul said. “Both departments are capable of managing and mitigating fires, technical rescues, advanced life support medical response, hazardous materials response, and vehicle rescue.”