For the third year, Pantex has been honored by the Department of Energy Voluntary Protection Program (DOE VPP) for its exemplary safety record.
Pantex received the VPP Star of Excellence for its safety performance during 2011. Pantex was singled out as one of the top performers in safety within the DOE.
A team of Pantex employees began the push for VPP recognition in 2008. forming a committee to develop the application, which was submitted in October 2009. Pantex earned DOE VPP Star Status in March 2010. The safety performance at Pantex led to the Superior Star Award in 2011 and the Star of Excellence Award this month.
Read about the VPP award.
The new Bradley A. Peterson Live Fire Shoothouse was recently dedicated at the National Training Center in Albuquerque, N.M. The brand new, state-of-the-art facility will host DOE security personnel from throughout the country where they may practice tactical maneuvers in a realistic building environment. The new facility is a key component in DOE's commitment to enhancing the capabilities of DOE protective forces.
The shoothouse was dedicated in memory of Bradley A. Peterson (1958-2012) who served in several senior security positions within DOE for 20 years, including as Director, Office of Independent Oversight, Office of Health, Safety and Security, NNSA Chief, Defense Nuclear Security, and Associate Administrator for Defense Nuclear Security and Deputy to the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Secure Transportation. Before joining NNSA, Peterson had a distinguished career in the U.S. Navy.
The road to the Pantex Plant just got a little longer but a whole lot safer for contractors and delivery drivers.
Pantex officials Tuesday dedicated a new stretch of paved road that will help alleviate a large, dangerous traffic problem caused by an influx of vehicles traveling to the new High Explosives Pressing Facility (HEPF) construction site.
“It quickly became clear that with the extra traffic from the HEPF, we had a serious problem with traffic,” said Dennis Huddleston, Projects Division manager. “Getting all of those additional vehicles on site created a potential issue with safety and security.”
Until Tuesday, contractors and delivery drivers needing access into the Property Protection Area at Pantex drove down a short driveway near the Shipping and Receiving Facility to a security gate, where they were inspected and allowed on site.
The old approach was already at capacity, with 80-100 vehicles a day going through the contractor gate. Adding up to 200 more vehicles per day headed to the HEPF site made the situation untenable and caused traffic to back up onto public roads, further jeopardizing safety. The heavy traffic also impeded access to the Shipping and Receiving Facility.
Given the critical importance of completing the HEPF in a safe and timely manner without impacting other contractors trying to access the site, a change was in order. Huddleston said plans were quickly worked out to create a new paved road that curves for about half a mile north of the shipping and receiving facility. The 30-feet-wide roadway has lights for night approach and ends at a three-gate security station where vehicles can be inspected much more efficiently.
“We commend Pantex and the crews that worked so hard to complete this project,” said Johnnie Guelker, deputy assistant manager for Programs and Projects. “The HEPF is critical to the mission of Pantex and the entire nuclear weapons complex. This project is an important step in the completion of that facility.”
In keeping with NNSA’s commitment to improving the way it does business, being more efficient with energy and water resources, while being responsible to the environment, NNSA today congratulated its sites and labs for receiving the 2012 DOE Sustainability Awards.
Department of Energy Deputy Secretary Daniel Poneman said that sustainability award winners are leading by example, showing what’s possible when employees bring creativity, innovation, and dedication to their efforts to make DOE more sustainable.
In addition to NNSA improving its way of doing business through sustainability, benefits accrue to efforts not typically thought of as sustainability related, such as improving safety and health and saving money.
NNSA and Environment Management recipients of DOE’s Sustainability Awards are as follows (laboratory/site, title and employees):
NNSA Office of Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Director Joseph Oder recently visited the Y-12 National Security Complex to present Defense Programs Awards of Excellence. Fifteen teams consisting of some 275 Y-12 federal and contractor employees were recognized. Joining Oder (center) to present the awards was Mark Padilla, NNSA Production Office Assistant Manager for Programs and Projects (right) and Joe Henry, Chief Operating Officer of B&W Y-12. The ceremony was held at Y-12’s New Hope Center. The awards are given annually to recognize significant achievements in quality, productivity, cost savings, safety or creativity in support of NNSA’s nuclear weapons program.
The U.S. Geological Survey turned to Sandia National Laboratories for help when the earth opened up last month near Bayou Corne, La.
Sandia’s David Borns is providing technical evaluations in weekly teleconferences about possible causes and remedies for a 300-foot-wide sinkhole there.
The sinkhole opened up overnight on Aug. 2 off the western edge of the salt dome near Bayou Corne. It was reportedly originally about 300 feet deep, but Borns said only one part was that deep; the rest was about 50 feet deep.
Read about Sandia’s work.
Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) has teamed up with the San Diego Zoo and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect desert tortoises in the area. 60 juvenile tortoises from the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center in Las Vegas were released last week on the southern end of the site.
The tortoises, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, were fitted with special radio tracking devices so their movements can be studied. Benefits of the study include identifying their preferred habitat features, assessing the health and condition of desert tortoises at NNSS, and determining causes of tortoise injuries and mortality. The effort is part of a year-long study to help re-introduce tortoises back into the wild.
Sandia researcher Greg Nielson is “one of the 10 most promising young scientists working today,” says Popular Science magazine.
Nielson garnered one of the magazine’s “Brilliant 10” awards for helping lead the Sandia effort to create solar cells the size of glitter.
Past Brilliant 10 honorees have gone on to win the Fields Medal (considered the Nobel Prize of mathematics) and MacArthur Foundation “genius” awards. Nielson and the other 2012 award winners will be featured in the October issue of Popular Science, available in late September.
Read about Nielson’s work.
Greg Nielson, Sandia photovoltaic researcher. (Photo by Randy Montoya, Sandia National Laboratories)
The Pantex Ordnance Plant began operations 70 years ago, turning out conventional bombs that helped end World War II and secure the world for peace. Pantex closed after the war ended and was reopened in 1951 as a nuclear weapons facility. Over the next several decades, missions from other facilities were consolidated at Pantex, which is now the nation’s primary facility for the assembly, disassembly and maintenance of nuclear weapons.
During the last seven decades, the plant’s mission has evolved greatly, but one thing remained the same: the pride Pantexans feel at fulfilling their critical role in helping to secure the nation.
As part of the 70th anniversary celebration last week, Pantex honored the thousands of current and former Pantexans, as well as the communities of the Texas Panhandle that have supported the plant. Last week, all plant employees marked the event with cake and a commemorative gift. That event was followed by a reception at the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce to thank community leaders who have supported Pantex over the years.
About the photos
From left, LTC William Czajkowski, executive director of the NNSA’s Office of Stockpile Management, B&W Pantex General Manager John Woolery, NNSA Production Office Manager Steve Erhart, Deputy Assistant Deputy Administrator for Stockpile Management Deborah Monette and Director of the Office of Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Joseph Oder enjoy a piece of cake at a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Pantex Plant last Thursday. Workers across the plant celebrated seven decades of service to America with commemorative cakes. An evening reception with leaders in Amarillo celebrated the special contributions Pantex and its employees have made to the communities of the Texas Panhandle over the past 70 years.
More than 200 individuals on eight teams from Pantex have received recognition for their work supporting NNSA’s Defense Programs.
The awards recognize on an annual basis the contributions of work performed in support of the Stockpile Stewardship Program. The awards are given for significant achievements in quality, productivity, cost savings, safety or creativity in support of the nuclear weapons program.
Read about the awards.