Y-12 Blog

Posted: Thursday, November 3, 2022 - 4:16pm

Hazardous Materials Challenge Program Administrator Chris Ritter with Y-12 Fire Department members Craig Shaver, Jeff Foster, Brad Goss, Jeremy Maiden, and Doug Allen
From left, Hazardous Materials Challenge Program Administrator Chris Ritter with Y-12 Fire Department members Craig Shaver, Jeff Foster, Brad Goss, Jeremy Maiden, and Doug Allen, who finished second in the annual competition.

Y-12 Firefighter Jeff Foster maneuvered through hazard after hazard in blazing southwestern heat and thought it was cool.

“It was one of the best experiences of my life,” he said. “We worked hard and really represented the Y 12 Fire Department.”

Foster, along with captains Craig Shaver and Jeremy Maiden and firefighters Doug Allen and Brad Goss, put knowledge and emergency skills to the test at the 26th Annual HAZMAT (hazardous materials) Challenge. Hosted by the Emergency Management Division of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, the competition brought together eight teams from across the nation to network with one another, learn new HAZMAT techniques, and practice skills during six scored scenarios, which depicted realistic hazardous material situations. Teams dealt with a biological hazard, nerve agent decontamination, chemical release, a stinger operation involving the transfer of a chemical substance from an overturned tanker to a recovery truck, a confined space rescue, and an active-shooter situation. Each scenario had to be completed in 90 minutes during the four-day event.

“It didn’t feel like 90 minutes,” said Shaver. “It went by really fast. There’s a lot going on, a lot to take in, and a lot of decisions to be made.”

For one exercise, the Y-12 team members Doug Allen and Jeff Foster had to evacuate a train car with victims exposed to a biological agent.
For one exercise, the Y-12 team members Doug Allen and Jeff Foster had to evacuate a train car with victims exposed to a biological agent.

Allen added, “You’re constantly trying to figure out what angle to take and how they want things performed. It’s a process.”

When the scores were tallied, the Y-12 team finished second, and a composite team that included a Y-12 member nabbed third place. This is only the second time Y-12 has participated. The team attended in 2019, prior to COVID-19 restrictions, which halted the competition for two years.

“For our second time attending, that’s a significant accomplishment, considering the teams we were competing against,” said Division Chief Ben Taylor, who also attended. “Most of the teams have been competing there for several years.”

The competitors included Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Department of Defense, Civil Support Team, the Air Force, and others.

Just like three years ago, the teams felt the heat of competition.

“It was hot,” Taylor said. “On average, the temperature was in the mid to upper 90s. Couple that with wearing fully encapsulating PPE (personal protective equipment), and you are testing your ability to make decisions while enduring physical stress.”

And compounding the physical challenge, “There was the elevation change,” Taylor said. “Here, we are at about 800 feet above sea level, but at Los Alamos you’re at 7,300 feet. It’s quite an adjustment to be out there.”

Y-12 Fire Department’s Jeff Foster stops at a mock decontamination station after completion of an exercise.
Y-12 Fire Department’s Jeff Foster stops at a mock decontamination station after completion of an exercise.

The heat and elevation added another dimension to the already intense exercises.

“These were real life scenarios,” Maiden said, “things that have happened across the world.” A standout for him was the biological hazard exercise, which was staged in a train car and involved removing passengers who had been exposed to a biological agent.

An unplanned scenario called upon the Y-12 team to extend a helping hand when another team forgot to bring some important equipment.

“In one event, the CST needed structural firefighting gloves for their exercise,” Taylor said. “They forgot them when they were in a scramble to get their equipment. Y-12 stepped up and offered the use of our equipment. So, we were good neighbors.”

Not only did the Y-12 team display sportsmanship, but also strong camaraderie.

“This was a great experience for all of us to get together, no matter what shift we’re on,” Goss said. “This shows how we can work together. And we are proud to have won second.”

Taylor echoed Goss’s sentiments about teamwork.

“Everybody pulled their weight equally,” he said. “They did an exceptional job.”

Also earning praise were the Y-12 Fire Department members who held down the station while the HAZMAT Challenge team was away.

“I want to thank all of the battalion chiefs who allowed their firefighters to attend training prior to the event and those who worked to cover positions while the team was atLANL,” Taylor said. “The team could not have been successful without everybody’s support.”

Posted: Monday, October 24, 2022 - 8:12am

Y-12 Sheet Metal Apprentice Erin Scott (second from right) holds a certificate at the ETARP graduation ceremony. With her from left to right are: UCOR Labor Relations Manager Len Morgan, General Superintendent John Arbaugh, East Tennessee Apprenticeship Readiness Coordinator Chris Branham, and CNS Project Director John Platt II.
Y-12 Sheet Metal Apprentice Erin Scott (second from right) holds a certificate at the ETARP graduation ceremony. With her from left to right are: UCOR Labor Relations Manager Len Morgan, General Superintendent John Arbaugh, East Tennessee Apprenticeship Readiness Coordinator Chris Branham, and CNS Project Director John Platt II.

As a young adult, Anderson County native Erin Scott understood that a typical 9-to-5 job wasn’t what she wanted out of life. After graduating from Clinton High School in 2014, Erin earned an associate’s degree from Roane State Community College and did some course work toward a bachelor’s degree. However, the jobs she held along the way did not interest her.
“The jobs I had been doing just weren’t very satisfying. I didn’t feel productive,” she said. So earlier this year, she tried something totally different.

In January, she enrolled in the Tennessee College of Applied Technology’s welding program. It turned out to be a great decision and where she learned about the East Tennessee Apprenticeship Readiness Program (ETARP). After enrolling, she graduated this summer as a sheet metal apprentice, a member of ETARP's sixth class of graduates. It turned out that she was the 100th student to graduate.

“It was pretty exciting knowing I was the 100th person to graduate from this program, especially being a woman,” she said. “It’s nice to represent females in what is pretty much a male-dominated world.”

John Arbaugh, the Uranium Processing Facility Project (UPF) General Superintendent, is invested in the value of ETARP.

“Being a craft professional is a wonderful career choice that can be very fulfilling, but like most industries, it’s hard to find enough people,” Arbaugh said. “ETARP's main goal is to expose people, primarily minorities, women, and veterans, to building trades apprenticeships and ultimately a career in construction. It is an additional avenue to finding qualified people to fill the jobs we need.”

ETARP is a partnership between CNS and UCOR, two of Oak Ridge’s largest Department Of Energy contractors, and the Cooperative Agreement of Labor and Management, an organization comprised of Oak Ridge construction employers, including the Knoxville Building and Construction Trades Council, which represents 16 unions.

ETARP began in 2018 and has placed a diverse group of men and women in apprentice programs at UCOR and CNS.

After graduating this summer, Scott went to work as a sheet metal apprentice at UPF. John Platt, a CNS project director, had a chance to meet Scott and her fellow graduates who planned on working at Y-12.

“We’re very fortunate to have a program like ETARP. It has increased our ability to attract diverse talent and skills to the project,” Platt said. “The work of our craft professionals is often challenging and, as a result, can also be incredibly rewarding. I’m excited to be able to support members of the latest graduating class.”

So far, Scott said the work has been physically demanding but incredibly satisfying. Asked what her friends think about her new career choice, Scott said some are surprised.

“I was never a hands-on person, but I grew up with a dad and brother who were always tinkering, so I must’ve picked up a few things from them,” she said. When her family found out about her career decision, she said they were “very encouraging,” pushing her to “give it a try.”

Chris Branham is the ETARP coordinator. He instructed Scott and her classmates and knows what great value the program offers.

“We train people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities in union work, hoping to find where they might be the best fit for a life-long career,” Branham said. “We also teach the students about safety in the work place so they aren’t blind to today’s safety standards.”

At Y-12, Scott said safety is a major focus. “Safety is huge here and so is the culture of respect. We’re encouraged to treat everyone with respect, to get along, and be safe at our work,” she added.

“I honestly think, now that I’ve been through it and am on the job, that a lot of women are missing out on some great opportunities,” Scott said.

For more information about ETARP, contact Chris Branham.

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Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2022 - 2:40pm

Max Robertson, director of Information Technology Business Operations
Take 5 minutes and learn about Max Robertson, director of Information Technology Business Operations at Pantex and Y-12. All views and opinions are the employee’s and do not necessarily reflect those of CNS.

With digital systems and technology integral to how we operate, Information Solutions and Services enables a wide range of business-related and mission-essential services, processes, and products at Pantex and Y-12. To name a few, IS&S supports more than 13,000 devices, 4,000 VPN connections, and 2,000 servers that reside on our network. In honor of this year’s seventh annual IT Professionals’ Day, we recognize and thank the leaders and experts in the field of Information Technology and Cybersecurity that not only keep us connected and protected, but are part of building the future landscape of technology for our mission.

As the demand for new technology increases to support growth and modernization at the sites, Max Robertson, director of IT Business Operations, plays a major role in its development. From facilitating current projects that require IS&S support to approving procurements of new hardware and software, Robertson’s team is tasked with ensuring every form of technology on a project (e.g., computers, software, components) follows the required quality, security, and implementation steps before it meets the network.

“We are looking to the future in IS&S, but we also support the current projects across the business that are underway and require a digital footprint,” Robertson said. “While funding and scope are key, the people of IS&S are truly the essential element behind the success and completion of a project.”

What daily task lets you know you’re helping achieve the CNS mission? How/why does that task let you know you’re working toward the mission?
There are a few daily tasks that factor into how I know we’re helping achieve the mission. First and foremost, it’s knowing that we’re keeping our systems and network operational. Secondly, it’s knowing how our projects are making positive progress, and lastly, it’s knowing if the demands are being scoped clearly. This helps my team and me see that we are supporting the foundation of the business today (i.e., systems, purchases, and contracts) and preparing to support technology in the future.

Are you doing what you envisioned as a young adult? If so, describe how you got here.
I am doing so much more than I envisioned for myself. I had a limited vision at the beginning of my career. My background is in nuclear engineering, so my focus was working in a nuclear power plant for 30 to 40 years and then retiring. I never dreamed I would be able to accomplish all that I have in the past 35 years, including starting up first-of-kind nuclear facilities, protecting nuclear power plants from cyber threats, and modernizing nuclear fuel fabrication facilities.

What CNS principle drives you to be successful?
Own the Outcome (good or bad) and Set High Standards. With these two principles, we are held accountable for our work and we make our environment better than we found it.

What work advice would you offer someone who is new to Pantex or Y‑12?
Our sites have a rich history, so change isn’t easy. However, change is needed to ensure we are relevant and focused on areas required for improvement. Be patient and diligent in your efforts. Ensure that you are working daily on the items that are important to the mission, DOE, and NNSA since we represent them. Remember that what we do here is vital to global security, and you play a key role in protecting our country, our values, and our nation’s allies.

What one thing would your coworkers be surprised to know about you?
Those who don’t know me well might be surprised to know that I am a strong Christian. I also have a passion for digital technology and nuclear technology. While both are core to my interests, I feel the most satisfied when I am solving problems or fixing issues (must be my engineering background).

Posted: Wednesday, August 31, 2022 - 8:01am

Congratulations to the recipients of the 2021 National Nuclear Security Administration’s security awards. The results were recently announced by NNSA's Associate Administrator and Chief of Defense Nuclear Security Jeff Johnson, and three of the four awards went to either Consolidated Nuclear Security or NNSA Production Office employees. A ceremony was recently held for those receiving the honors.

These awards recognize employees whose contributions to NNSA represent excellence and dedication to our national nuclear security.

The Y-12 Nuclear Material Control and Accountability team

Y-12 Nuclear Material Control and Accountability team
The Y-12 Nuclear Material Control and Accountability Team, NNSA's Security Team of the Year.

The Y-12 Nuclear Material Control and Accountability team has made positive contributions to national security by successfully and aggressively working to increase productivity and quality gains. This team successfully reduced inventory time and operational downtime, improved performance testing through 3-D printing and medical isotope data collection, initiated enhancements in reporting automation, and much more. The team’s collaborative efforts allowed them to exceed the previous reporting timeframe for final inventory to Nuclear Materials Management and Safeguards System.

John Fromberger, NNSA Production Office, NNSA Bradley A. Peterson Federal Security Professional of the Year

John Fromberger, NNSA Production Office
Roxanne Van Veghten, NPO assistant manager for Safeguards and Security, presents John Fromberger his award.

Fromberger, the NPO Protection Program Management federal program manager, has worked to strengthen relationships with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to effectively carry out responses to emergency operations and events on site. Fromberger coordinated with multiple agencies to conduct a complex “Fresh Pursuit” exercise that ensures effective response to potential large scale events.

Byron Logan, Pantex Plant, NNSA Security Manager of the Year

Pantex’s Byron Logan named NNSA Security Manager of the Year
Pantex’s Byron Logan, who was named NNSA Security Manager of the Year. Logan is responsible for Safeguards and Security Performance Testing, Self Assessments, and Issues Management.

Logan is responsible for Safeguards and Security Performance Testing, Self Assessments, and Issues Management. In 2021, under his leadership, the Office of Enterprise Assessments completed a successful multi topic assessment of the Pantex S&S program. Working within COVID-19 federal restrictions and safety measures implemented, the Office of Enterprise Assessments completed force on force testing and 16 integrated performance tests. His performance assurance program covers performance testing, self assessments, and issues management for all S&S topical areas: Protective Force, Physical Protection, Material Control and Accountability, Information Protection, Personnel Security, and Program Management Operations.

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Posted: Thursday, August 18, 2022 - 10:22am

Adry Lain (center), an intern who worked with Y 12 Development, explains his project at the 2022 Intern Expo.
Adry Lain (center), an intern who worked with Y-12 Development, explains his project at the 2022 Intern Expo.

The temperature may not feel like it, but summer is winding down. More than 50 interns at Pantex and Y-12 recently wrapped up their two month work experience with an Intern Expo. A few share what lessons they learned and memories they take with them.

Steven Keosouvanh, West Texas A&M University, major: computer information systems and business analytics

What surprised you the most during your internship at Pantex or Y-12?
I was surprised at how happy each organization is to improve their workers so they can grow to be better and find their passions. I have heard so many stories of people starting in one place and pursuing their careers start to finish here and stories of people who became passionate in a different area of work then changing careers all while at CNS.

What event or task did you enjoy the most during your time?
For me, I enjoyed building workflow process with my intern team. It was great to have an intern team that was so motivated and collaborated so well together. I don’t think we could have completed our task alone if it weren’t for everyone’s motivation and the support system we had in Project Controls.

Why should today’s college students consider Pantex and Y-12 ?
The mission we have here is important, and Pantex and Y-12 are great places to work for those with experience and those who are new. It is built into the core philosophy of the company to embrace both ends of the experience spectrum.

What is some work advice you learned from a veteran employee?
Be clear when speaking to people and make it as unambiguous as possible so people can see my vision. I hope to take this advice and make an impact using technology and data driven thinking in my career.

Jonas Rivero, West Texas A&M University, major: mechanical engineering

What surprised you the most during your internship at Pantex or Y-12?
My biggest surprise during this internship was having the encouragement to ask any question and having coworkers and supervisors open to answering all of those questions. I felt comfortable reaching out to anybody without feeling like I was going to annoy someone, and I knew they encouraged asking more questions.

What event or task did you enjoy the most during your time?
I most enjoyed the tours provided to us through the internship. I had various tours and saw some very impressive things that I was very grateful to see.

Why should today’s college students consider Pantex and Y-12 ?
I think there is a very high importance for college students to consider a field that supports the mission because there are various opportunities. From having the opportunity to further your educational studies to moving on to another role within the plant, the opportunities are endless, and you have an important task no matter what role you have.

What is some work advice you learned from a veteran employee?
A big piece of advice I received from a veteran employee was that there are a lot of knowledgeable people here, and you can learn something from everyone. I really listened to that advice and have really listened to what anybody who I encountered had to say. I’ve learned a lot of things that you can say I wouldn’t have learned in school, and I’m grateful I was able to experience this.

Serée Sturdivant, Texas Tech University, major: chemical engineering

What surprised you the most during your internship at Pantex or Y-12?
The thing that surprised me the most during my internship was the people. How nice and knowledgeable everyone was, how willing everyone was to help me get started and help me connect academic knowledge with industry needs and applications, and just how much I genuinely enjoyed working with my department. Everyone I reached out to wanted to help me however they could and taught me so much about where I fit in to the mission. I could not have asked for a better group of people to work/interact with!

What event or task did you enjoy the most during your time?
During my internship, I most enjoyed getting to design an advanced chemical reactor/chemical processing system for one of my projects. It was a true design project and pushed me to the limits of my current knowledge and capabilities, which allowed me to push beyond those limits and learn so much more.

Why should today’s college students consider Pantex and Y-12 ?
It is important that college students consider a field that supports the Pantex and Y-12 mission because the mission is integral to our continued safety and freedom as a country. There are so many different paths within Pantex/Y-12 — no matter what major you are or what your interests are, there is a place for you! You do your best work and are most happy/fulfilled in the work that you do when you are passionate about the mission your work supports.

What is some work advice you learned from a veteran employee?
Some work advice I learned from a veteran employee was more by what he did than what he said. My manager, Steve Velarde in Mission Engineering, tackled every problem that arose with patience, knowledge, and understanding. He always had solutions to issues that arose along the processes of the two projects that I was working on and gave me a completely different perspective on how to lead with direction while allowing maximum creativity and learning. I want to simulate his work/leadership style while I begin my career.

Delaine Stiltner, Tennessee Technological University, major: civil engineering

What surprised you the most during your internship at Pantex or Y-12?
The initial shock of the security aspects of the job were a bit surprising at first. Security at Y-12 is one of the reasons this job is so unique.

What event or task did you enjoy the most during your time?
I enjoyed getting to work on several different projects this summer. I feel that I have grown significantly and have learned so much over the short time span of my internship. My favorite part about my job was getting to meet so many great people and working with different types of engineers!

Why should today’s college students consider Pantex and Y-12?
Working at Pantex and Y-12 helps provide a service to our community and our country while allowing yourself to grow in a supportive and family driven environment.

What is some work advice you learned from a veteran employee?
Some of the best advice I learned was to always ask questions and make sure you document everything!

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