In November 2016, the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) Project celebrated a significant safety milestone: five million hours without a lost-time injury.
“We attribute this significant achievement to a proactive approach and uncompromising safety vigilance,” said UPF Environmental Safety and Health Manager Gary Hagan. “Safety expectations are baked into our everyday project life.”
UPF’s last lost-time incident was three years ago in January 2014.
Hagan said project leaders that make decisions based on safety and an insistence on an injury-free day for every colleague have resulted in a culture where people care about safety for themselves and their co-workers.
“We don’t just have a few senior safety leaders; we have 1,200 plus safety leaders at all levels of the organization,” said Project Manager Valerie McCain. “As a result, we’ve seen people’s behaviors and actions demonstrate they value safety for themselves and their co-workers.”
UPF is a $6.5 billion, first-of-its kind complex being built for enriched uranium operations in support of Y-12 National Security Complex missions.
This year isn’t the first time the Y-12 team representing Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS) at the Light the Night (LTN) Walk in Knoxville surpassed its goal. The team has raised more than $30,000 to date for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS), rising above its $22,000 goal.
Pam Summers, team captain, said, “These donations are used for research in finding a cure and in services for those who are dealing with these blood cancers.”
Team management sponsor Mike Beck, vice president of Mission Engineering, said, “I want to express my appreciation for your support of the LLS and the Light the Night Walk. Your personal commitment was incredible and allowed us to exceed our team goal. The total raised by the team will make a significant impact on patients with blood cancers.”
Team fundraising efforts began in April and will continue to the end December through the team’s website. Summers said, “Our grand total for the LTN bake sales and silent auctions was $5,046.75. I want to thank everyone who participated and supported this fundraiser in making it a success.”
Lori Friel, East Tennessee LTN campaign manager, said, “CNS is the number one corporate team and has been for the past 10 years. Since 2007, Y-12 employees have raised more than $197,265 for the LLS.”
The Y-12 team and hundreds of others supporting LLS met Oct. 25 at the University of Tennessee’s Circle Park and walked around campus while members of the Pride of the Southland Band played Rocky Top.
“Whether you provided a monetary donation, silent auction items and baked goods, or joined the team for the walk itself,” Beck said, “your generosity was most helpful in support of this great effort.”
Y-12 firefighters joined others from across the state to honor the men and women who died doing their jobs on 9/11 at the 2016 National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Memorial (NFFF) Stair Climb at the Knoxville Sunsphere.
Each participant – wearing and carrying up to 70 pounds of gear – climbed 836 steps up and down the Sunsphere to honor their comrades who lost their lives on 9/11.
“In this career that is so firmly and fundamentally founded in brotherhood,” said Y-12 Firefighter Ben Norton, “it is truly an honor to have been part of carrying the name and memory of our fallen brothers.”
Representing Consolidated Nuclear Security (CNS) and Y-12 along with Norton were Fire Chief Scott Vowell and fellow firefighters Tom Bratcher and April Allen.
Vowell thanked CNS for its support of the Y-12 firefighters and the NFFF Memorial Stair Climb, describing the event as a “great opportunity” to support a “great cause.”
Proceeds from the event provide help to families whose loved ones have died in the line of duty.
Thomas Wolfe famously said you can’t go home again, but Y-12 engineer Christina Butcher found a way to return to the halls of Glenwood Elementary where her love for learning was nurtured when she was a student there about 20 years ago and recently returned as a guest speaker.
Butcher shared her experiences with the students, showing them that careers in engineering are fun and within their reach. She also did an exercise with the students to show them how engineers solve real life problems using materials available to them. Through the exercise, the students practiced collaboration by listening to ideas and questions. They helped each other create a design and eventually came up with a product.
Butcher was pleased with the effort. “Kids just need to be given direction and a sense that they can do it. They’ll take it from there,” she smiled.
Terri Lloyd, gifted education teacher, hopes Consolidated Nuclear Security can continue to provide engineering speakers for her students quarterly. “Having guest speakers in the classroom is one of the best avenues we have for bringing industry into the classroom and allowing students to interact with influential role models,” she said.
Butcher agreed. “Role models are important, especially for young people whose world may be a bit narrowly focused. I hope my example inspires them to reach for their dreams,” she said. Going home again never looked so good.
With 34 years as a security police officer with the Y‑12 Protective Force, Rusty Chambers, 59, could have retired. Instead, he began a four‑year apprenticeship for a new Y‑12 vocation as a journeyman machinist.
“It’s a fulfillment of what I’ve always wanted to do, since I was 22,” Chambers said, adding the situation was never quite right before for him to enroll in an apprentice program.
The four-year journeyman machinist apprentice program is a partnership between Consolidated Nuclear Security and the Atomic Trades Labor Council, with classwork provided by Pellissippi State Technical Community College.
Chambers and seven other Y‑12 employees completed the classroom/team‑project portion of the training Oct. 21 with an event at Norris Dam State Park. Representatives from Y‑12, ATLC, and Pellissippi gathered to congratulate them as they dedicated an information kiosk they built in a cabin area (the previous, dilapidated kiosk was destroyed by a falling tree). The group also presented a utility trailer built for the Marble Springs State Historical Site.
In addition to Chambers, the other apprentices are: Charles Clinton, Ashley Dawson, Billy Farr, Randy Fields, Russell Fielden, Doug Hamby, and Mike Trexler.
After attending three years of year‑round classes on Fridays and evenings, the apprentices still have 10 months of on‑the‑job training before they are certified as journeymen. That final leg may seem like a breeze because the classroom portion was on top of their 40‑hour jobs at Y‑12.
Pellissippi instructor Terry Sisk came out of retirement to teach the classes. He said the project goals included budgeting, planning, designing, and building — all while working as a team. “You have 10 more months’ training, but you finally have your Fridays back,” Sisk joked with his students. “It’s been quite an experience for them — and me.”
Susan Baker, Y‑12’s director of Fabrication, praised the apprentices’ caliber. “You are already making contributions to the work we do at Y‑12, and I’m looking forward to hiring you as journeymen,” Baker said.
Beth Green of Y‑12 Infrastructure managed the apprenticeship project and found funding for project materials. “It’s a small price to pay to have employees who know how to work together as part of a team,” Green said.
One of the future “journeymen” is a woman. Ashley Dawson’s bachelor’s degree is in human resources, and after six years in the U.S. Air Force, she worked in Y‑12’s Human Resources department before hearing about the apprentice program. She went from working with nearly all women to all men, something she kiddingly called an “adjustment.”
“I’m very hands on. I wanted to learn a craft, a skill,” Dawson said. “I wanted a change.”
As to why Chambers didn’t want to retire when he could have: “I don’t know that I ever want to quit working,” he said. “I like to have an objective when I wake up every day.”