Y-12 Blog

Posted: Wednesday, May 15, 2019 - 2:47pm

Y-12 has worked with isotopes for many decades. Today, Y-12 supports the development of a domestic supply of molybdenum-99, the most widely used medical isotope in the world.Y-12 has worked with isotopes for many decades. Today, Y-12 supports the development of a domestic supply of molybdenum-99, the most widely used medical isotope in the world.

Y-12’s long-standing expertise with isotopes is supporting an effort to establish a reliable supply of molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) from low-enriched uranium. Mo-99 is a key isotope in the completion of approximately 40,000 medical procedures in the United States each day. Until recently, the isotope was supplied solely by foreign vendors, some of whom use highly enriched uranium (HEU) in the production process.

As part of its mission to minimize the use of HEU, NNSA’s Office of Material Management and Minimization was tasked to lead the Mo-99 Program. It is coordinating the use of technical expertise from Y-12 National Security Complex and the National Labs, on a non proprietary basis, to existing and potential Mo 99 producers who seek assistance to convert their Mo 99 production processes to use low enriched uranium or to develop processes that don’t use uranium at all.

The decay product of Mo 99, technetium-99m, is used to diagnose heart disease and cancer, to study organ structure and function, and to perform other important medical applications. For example, patients undergoing a common procedure — the cardiac “stress test” — likely have benefited from technetium-99m.

NNSA is working with commercial partners to accelerate the establishment of a reliable supply of Mo-99 made in the United States, produced without HEU through cooperative agreements between NNSA and U.S. commercial partners. In February, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry announced that four companies had been selected to begin negotiations for potential new cost-sharing agreements.

“Y-12 does not provide exclusive assistance to any one company; rather, we work with non-disclosure agreements and contracts to provide expertise and assistance to multiple companies,” said Y-12’s Hollie Longmire of Global Security and Strategic Partnerships. “Y-12 provides technical expertise in uranium processing, develops prototype targets, and optimizes the process.”

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Posted: Thursday, May 9, 2019 - 12:51pm

Y-12 National Security Complex welder Travis Scott (left) and Anderson County Career and Technical Center student Aaron discuss how to replace welding torch components and troubleshoot issues that could lead to poor welding performance.Y-12 National Security Complex welder Travis Scott (left) and Anderson County Career and Technical Center student Aaron discuss how to replace welding torch components and troubleshoot issues that could lead to poor welding performance.

At an age when many teenagers are into hot rods, high school senior Aaron would rather “burn rods.” So would Travis Scott, the Y-12 National Security Complex’s welder chief steward. The pair recently met up at Anderson County Career and Technical Center for some shop talk.

“I like the fulfillment of working with my hands, taking welding rods and making something of use. I like the tradition of the craft,” said Aaron, a student in the welding program at ACCTC whose stepfather is a contract welder and whose great-grandfather was a welder who helped construct Norris Dam.

Scott encouraged Aaron to pursue the family profession, as demand for skilled craft and trades is growing across the country and at Y-12.

As part of the site’s workforce development outreach, Scott and other Y-12 members of the Atomic Trades and Labor Council recently visited ACCTC and Midway High School in Roane County to talk with students interested in a craft and technical education.

The union leaders described their jobs and the training required and noted that college isn’t the only pathway to success. Scott, a Midway High School graduate, also shared a career lesson he learned from the school of hard knocks.

“In high school, I didn’t apply myself because I didn’t intend to go to college,” Scott said. “Senior year, I missed 17 days of school playing hooky, hunting and fishing. After high school, I applied to a welding training program. The interviewer looked at my transcripts and said, ‘Son, you’ve missed 17 days of school. You’re applying to a school right now. Why should I accept you?’”

That experience, Scott said, served as a wake-up call. He said that, at the time, he didn’t realize how his seemingly inconsequential decision to skip school would affect future work opportunities. It’s one of the messages he and other Y-12 ATLC members wanted to impart to students.

Other messages included the necessity of living drug-free, the importance of math and science in crafts and trades, having a well-thought-out career plan, participating in training and certification programs offered by the Tennessee College of Applied Technology and area community colleges, and seeking out mentors and apprenticeship opportunities at Y-12 and local unions.

Y-12’s Mike Thompson, ATLC president and another Midway graduate, urged students to consider paid apprenticeships and noted the payoffs of investing in a craft and technical education. “Apprenticeships offered by Y-12 and local unions allow you to work during the day and attend classes at night,” he said. “Many complete apprenticeships debt-free with money in their pocket.

“Careers in the crafts and trades provide the ability to sustain a rewarding career,” Thompson said. “They provide the capability to make good wages, have good benefits, and raise a family.”

Several Y-12 craftspersons pointed out that there will be heavy competition for the craft and trades jobs opening up at the site over the next few years. They noted that having training, certifications, and experience could make the difference in obtaining one of these positions.

“Skilled craft is in high demand, so you’ve got to get in the game,” said Tim Milligan, Y-12 air conditioning and refrigeration chief steward. “Y-12 takes the best of the best, and a lot of people want these well-paying jobs.”

After the ATLC talk at ACCTC, Aaron reinforced his desire to “make something of myself” and continue his technical education after graduation this spring. “Hopefully, one day I’ll make a good welder,” he said.

Through a partnership between Y-12 and the ATLC, 97 Y-12 employees have graduated from the site’s apprenticeship program since the program was reinstituted in 2008. The apprentices completed their schooling either through local unions or, in the case of the machinist apprentices, through Pellissippi State Community College.

More than 400 skilled craftspersons and professionals joined the Uranium Processing Facility project at Y-12 in 2018 in the first wave of construction hiring. The project will continue to hire throughout fiscal year 2019, peaking at about 2,200 craftspersons and professionals in 2020.

Gilbert Cruz, a Karns High School Career Technical Education teacher, high-fives Ashley Dawson, a machinist at the Y-12 National Security Complex. The two met at a recent teacher in-service at Powell High School where Y-12 members of the Atomic Trades and Labor Council discussed the benefits of a career in skilled crafts and trades and distributed information on local unions. “Ashley and I are in total agreement,” Cruz said. “There is another way to career success besides college. I teach my students that aGilbert Cruz, a Karns High School Career Technical Education teacher, high-fives Ashley Dawson, a machinist at the Y-12 National Security Complex. The two met at a recent teacher in-service at Powell High School where Y-12 members of the Atomic Trades and Labor Council discussed the benefits of a career in skilled crafts and trades and distributed information on local unions. “Ashley and I are in total agreement,” Cruz said. “There is another way to career success besides college. I teach my students that a technical education can provide an opportunity to have a career they love and make good money at it.”

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Posted: Thursday, May 2, 2019 - 4:40pm

Students from South Doyle High School compete at the TN FIRST Smoky Mountains Regional robotics competition at Thompson Bowling Arena. CNS was a corporate sponsor, providing funds, volunteers, and mentors for the program.Students from South Doyle High School compete at the TN FIRST Smoky Mountains Regional robotics competition at Thompson Bowling Arena. CNS was a corporate sponsor, providing funds, volunteers, and mentors for the program.

CNS contributed corporate funds and provided employee mentors and volunteers to TN FIRST to support the ninth annual Smoky Mountains Regional robotics program held recently at Thompson Boling Arena in Knoxville.

More than 800 students competed on 52 teams from across the Southeast to qualify for one of 14 judged awards and a spot at the 30th National Robotics competition April 17–20.

CNS also supports local FIRST robotics programs, which begin in January when the season’s challenge is announced. This year, teams had six weeks to create an industrial-sized, 150-pound robot that can maneuver through unpredictable terrain and weather patterns to gather as many cargo pods as possible and to prepare their spaceships before a sandstorm arrives. In 2019, teams receiving CNS corporate contributions included Oak Ridge, South Doyle, Webb School of Knoxville, Farragut, Hardin Valley, Roane County, and Austin East schools.

CNS’s commitment to education and workforce development through robotics and other programs will ensure the future Y-12 workforce has the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) skills required to maintain the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.

Watch a short video about the competition.

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Posted: Thursday, May 2, 2019 - 4:33pm

CNS celebrates Earth Day at Y-12 with speakers and activities for employees.CNS celebrates Earth Day at Y-12 with speakers and activities for employees.

On April 18, CNS celebrated Earth Day at Y-12 with speakers and activities for employees. Internal and external organizations shared tips and ideas on becoming greener. The Tennessee Valley Authority Energy Right Program promoted energy conservation methods, the Tennessee Department of Forestry gave employees native trees for planting, and the A&W Supply, Inc./Clover Imaging Group promoted buying sustainable materials. Other attending organizations included Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension, Smart Trips, and the Knoxville Electric Vehicle Association.

Y-12 booths included Environmental Compliance promoting Y-12’s environmental policy, Environmental Sampling showcasing a typical monitoring well, and the Y-12 Fire Department highlighting spill response techniques and vehicles. The Energy Program, LiveWise, Predictive Maintenance, and the Uranium Processing Facility also participated.

In honor of Earth Day, the Pollution Prevention Program’s Aluminum Beverage Can (ABC) committee chose the following organizations to receive a $200 donation. Monies are provided by recycling ABCs employees donate.

  • Disabled American Veterans Appalachian Chapter #105
  • Good Samaritan Center of Loudon County
  • Feral Feline Friends of East Tennessee
  • Kids First – Child Advocacy Center
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Posted: Thursday, May 2, 2019 - 4:27pm

CNS runners at the start of the Knoxville Covenant Health Marathon.CNS runners at the start of the Knoxville Covenant Health Marathon.

More than 100 CNS employees were among the thousands of runners who took part in 5K, Half, Relay, and Marathon races at this year’s Covenant Health Knoxville Marathon.

“It was the most people we’ve ever had at the Knoxville Marathon and the most we’ve had in any race,” said Karen Lacey, Y-12 health and wellness supervisor. “A few CNS folks ran their first marathons, and others set their personal best times at their races. It was a great showing for CNS.”

CNS encourages its employees to take part in races by paying the runners’ registration fees. For the Knoxville Marathon those fees can be expensive. Depending on the race, the fees ran from a high of $65 for the full marathon to $25 to run the 5K.

“We want our employees to get active and get connected. We feel covering registration fees helps that effort,” said Lacey.

She said in addition to running events, CNS has also paid the registration fees for cycling events, triathlons, bowling tournaments, skiing, and golf tournaments.

Also on hand at the Knoxville Covenant Health Marathon was Y-12 Site Manager Bill Tindal, his wife Karen, and a dozen CNS volunteers. Each year, CNS sponsors the bag check for runners. Managing a marathon involving thousands of runners is a massive undertaking for organizers and for runners.

“It’s one less thing that a runner has to worry about when they start their race. And besides, making sure a runner’s valuables are safe and secure is a service I think makes sense for CNS to provide,” said Tindal. “It’s what we do every day at Y-12.”

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