Making sure we can deliver enriched uranium for our missions is no easy task at a site with complex processes housed in facilities more than 70 years old. Buildings need to be maintained, and equipment replaced or repaired, all while operating safely to meet NNSA’s mission needs for the weapons stockpile, naval reactors and other programs. Successfully coordinating these complex efforts into a workable plan won one group a Defense Programs Award of Excellence.
The Uranium Mission Strategy Team, which included 20 experts from both NNSA and Y‑12, created the plan to keep uranium operations going safely for many years. Figuring out the details of how it would all work was not a simple or an individual effort. The strategy maps out interrelated actions that must be worked over years, including a large construction project (the Uranium Processing Facility or UPF), process upgrades, process replacement projects, facility and infrastructure investments, and tasks to reduce safety hazards and inventory.
“Developing the strategy required a really diverse team, including people from Production, Programs, Engineering, Maintenance, Projects and UPF. Individual team members were supported by dozens of others from their organizations,” said John Gertsen, Uranium Mission Transformation manager and UPF Operators’ representative.
This diversity of expertise and support was necessary for success. The Enterprise’s missions can’t wait, so the team had to develop a way for Y‑12 to sustain critical operations while gradually moving out of Building 9212. The team based the strategy on four principles that would support this sustain‑and‑replace solution: reduce inventory and material at risk, or MAR; reinvest in some processes and relocate others; upgrade existing facilities and infrastructure; and build UPF.
“The strategy’s built on reducing safety and mission risks,” said Mona Glass, Enriched Uranium Mission Transformation, “while ensuring continuity.”
Y‑12 was already moving toward this strategy in 2014 but received renewed encouragement that year with the Red Team’s report on UPF and the appointment of Tim Driscoll as the NNSA Uranium Program manager. Driscoll also served on the Uranium Mission Strategy Team.
“This strategy has a lot of moving parts, and most of them are interrelated,” Gertsen said. “We are processing and moving uranium to reduce risk, relocating key processes in other buildings, refurbishing those buildings, and building a new facility, all while continuing to deliver our production mission. We’re talking about a lot of complex actions sequenced carefully over years.”
By 2025, some Building 9212 operations will move to existing facilities (Buildings 9215 and 9204-2E), and the rest will be replaced by UPF. Replacement of capabilities in Buildings 9215, 9204-2E (Beta 2E) and 9995 (plant lab) is deferred for now. Investments in those facilities are planned instead. Eventually, they will be replaced in the 2040s. HEUMF will continue to provide long‑term storage and shipping of uranium materials.
Specific actions mapped in the strategy are underway. Some are in the early stages — the first moves to replace Building 9212 capabilities, for example, won’t be completed until 2025 — but already show progress. “The MAR inventory in Area 5 has been reduced, some process relocation projects, such as 2MeV radiography, are starting earlier and reducing cost by consolidating with other upgrade projects,” Gertsen said. “UPF is moving ahead, and we’re placing even greater emphasis on technology investments to reduce time to maturity.”
The Uranium Missions Strategy is an important part of NNSA’s efforts “to reduce the risks of facility and process equipment failure that would affect our employees and impact our missions,” Gertsen said. “We’re planning for the long term."
For several years, Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC (CNS) employees have been involved in FIRST (For Inspiration of Science and Technology) as competition judges, mentors and team coaches.
“CNS depends heavily on attracting and retaining highly talented STEM educated people,” said Mark Cook, a CNS engineer and local team mentor. “There is a gap between the workforce demand in STEM careers and those pursuing education in those fields. This isn’t just about competing with other corporations, but, fundamentally, we have to reach down and encourage students’ interest to pursue these careers. One advantage of FIRST is that it rewards and recognizes robotic students for pursuing their development just as they see their peers recognized in athletics.”
FIRST learning never stops building upon itself; it starts at age 6 and continues into high school. The FIRST organization’s mission “is to inspire young people to be science and technology leaders, by engaging them in exciting Mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including selfconfidence, communication, and leadership.”
This year’s FIRST competition challenge, “Stronghold,” was to penetrate their opponents’ fortress, weaken their defenses with boulders and capture the opposing tower. To accomplish the task, teams worked with hundreds of components from programmable radio controllers, motors and electrical circuitry to mechanical parts. Each two-and-a-half-minute match began with a 15-second autonomous period in which the robots independently implemented codes from their student programmers. During the remainder of the match, student drivers manned the robots.
CNS was a Friends of the Future sponsor to the Smoky Mountains Regional with a $5,000 donation. Individual high schools teams from Austin–East, Bearden, Farragut, Hardin Valley, L & N STEM, Oak Ridge and Roane County also were supported by CNS. Hardin Valley Academy’s RoHAWKtics team was part of a three -team alliance that took home top honors in Smoky Mountain Regionals. Hardin Valley Academy also received the FIRST Excellence in Engineering Award. Oak Ridge High School’s Secret City Wildbots, received the Gracious Professional Award and the Volunteer of the Year Award. Four teams from east Tennessee qualified for the world competition in St. Louis, including Roane County High School, Oak Ridge High School, Halls High School and Hardin Valley Academy.
“FIRST helps students develop tools they need to be successful adults in any workplace—working with teams, gracious professionalism, communication, mentoring kids, and discipline,” adds Mark Cook. “This competition is expensive, and teams rely on both the financial support of sponsors like CNS as well as professional mentors involved in these fields.”
Safeguards, Security and Emergency Services integrated, consolidated and standardized processes at Pantex and Y-12 in 2015. According to Gary Wisdom, SS&ES senior director at Pantex, “The exchange of information has been our greatest effort and our most valuable success. Integrating our knowledge, purpose and strategic initiatives can ultimately provide the greatest returns.”
In many cases, the formalization and documentation of long‑established informal processes were major accomplishments. For example, in June 2015, the National Nuclear Security Administration Production Office approved consolidated rules of engagement and hostile intent policies for unmanned aerial systems at both CNS sites.
In July, essential elements terminology was standardized, and the organization decided to proceed with incorporating all governing documents into a single Requirement Management System, which assists with consolidating the flow down of Department of Energy requirements into site‑specific documents.
The enterprise infrastructure to facilitate and support these efforts is integral to their success. Training, Supply Chain Management, Document Control and other organizations must be integrated so that they can support integration at lower levels. Representatives from SS&ES, Transformation and Supply Chain Management developed a logistics plan to make it easier for SS&ES employees to get what they need to do their work on time and cost effectively.
“If we can reduce the time spent completing repetitive purchase paperwork, reduce the time it takes to get the items and services we need, that’s a big plus for everyone,” explained Brian Deorocki of SS&ES Integration Management. Items needed at both sites may be purchased in bulk, improving employee effectiveness and reducing costs.
The logistics plan simplifies these repetitive and multi‑year procurements of specialized supplies, parts and equipment, as well as maintenance, service and repair contracts. Protective Force personnel at both sites worked together to develop a statement of work for a firearms maintenance capability at Anniston Army Depot. The depot possesses machines, parts and tools to renovate and refurbish military firearm systems and restore them to current military specifications, a capability not available at Pantex or Y-12. Both sites have provided additional statements of work for other site‑specific weapons and have coordinated with Supply Chain Management for an integrated ammunition procurement process.
During the year, Emergency Services leadership developed a common vision for the Enterprise Emergency Services organization and shared processes. Y-12’s Exercise Builder software was implemented at Pantex, along with the Communicator NXT technology and the first phase of the Emergency Management Information Notification System. Y-12 personnel offered guidance and training on each system throughout implementation.
Personnel from the sister site served as evaluators, leading to valuable discussions afterwards where processes were compared and a common balance was agreed upon.
“We continue developing common approaches to various ways of reporting and doing business across both sites, but we also realize we need to enhance our performance in terms of communications, leadership, ethics, teamwork and job satisfaction,” Wisdom said.
SS&ES teams continue integrating the Pantex and Y‑12 programs. Ken Freeman, SS&ES vice president, said, “The integration effort has been challenging, but we are very pleased with the work our employees are accomplishing. Through their continued collaborative and cooperative efforts, we anticipate having even greater success in FY 2016.”
Consolidated Nuclear Security and other area businesses recently joined the Oak Ridge Chamber of Commerce in hosting a breakfast for state lawmakers in Nashville.
More than two dozen Chamber members took part in “Oak Ridge Day on the Hill” meeting with area lawmakers and state officials in their offices and in the halls of the Legislative Plaza, encouraging them to support the Chamber’s legislative and public policy agenda for 2016.
Among the requests, approved by the Chamber’s Board of Directors, was continued support of Tennessee Promise, Drive 55 and the TN Reconnect program; and the expansion of general aviation capacity by developing a regional airport in Oak Ridge.
“It was a tremendous honor to participate as part of Oak Ridge Day and represent Consolidated Nuclear Security,” said CNS Small Business Partnerships manager Lisa Copeland. “Meeting so many state senators and representatives and other dignitaries and being able to tell the Y-12 story and the importance of workforce development was our mission; and we were able to accomplish that,” she said.
In addition to CNS, other exhibitors were Advanced Management Inc., Roane State Community College, Oak Ridge Utility District and the City of Oak Ridge.
An unexpected highlight of the visit was the opportunity to share a few minutes with Governor Bill Haslam and get a picture made with him.
Stacy Myers, chairman of the Chamber’s Advocacy Committee said, “Our goal was to take Oak Ridge to Nashville and share what Oak Ridge is doing for the next generation of our workforce.”
“Our scheduled and impromptu meetings with state officials in the hallways of the Legislative Plaza and the State Capitol proved to once again be productive.”
To get more girls interested and excited about science, math and technology, Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC (CNS) recently donated $10,000 to Girls Inc. of Oak Ridge/Knoxville (Tennessee) to help expand STEM programs.
Girls Inc. Executive Director Rhoni Basden said the donation will support science programs in Anderson and Knox counties and a fall Girls Inc. STEM conference.
“Through this conference, girls will be able to explore differing science fields and engage in interactive activities with experts in computer sciences, technology, engineering, forensic sciences and more,” said Basden.
Darrell Graddy, CNS Vice President for Operations Support, was on hand for the check presentation and was given a tour, by a group of young girls, of the Oak Ridge facility.
“We’re pleased to support the mission of Girls Inc.,” said Graddy. “The continuing success of Y-12 and Pantex and their missions, relies on developing the talent we will need for the future.”
“Girls Inc. and expansion of its STEM programs perfectly aligns with that goal,” he added.
Girls Inc. serves girls ages 5 to 18 in after-school, break camps and sports programs. The organization began in Oak Ridge in 1976 and has recently expanded into Knox County.