Members of the B&W Pantex Explosives Technology Division celebrated a significant safety milestone Thursday with a cookout to commemorate working three million man hours without a lost time injury.

Managers from the division grilled up lunch for approximately 150 workers to mark the achievement, which is made even more significant by the nature of the work done by Explosives Technology employees.

According to David Cole, acting division manager, safety is the absolute priority for Pantex and it is something they talk about every day.“Explosives operations are a high-consequence area,” he said. “If you have a mistake, the consequences can be very grave. We have to make sure we never forget that and never become complacent.”

Explosives Technology staff have worked diligently to make sure everyone works safely, said Monty Cates, manager of the Materials and Analytical Services Department. At daily standup meetings, safety is always the first topic, and every month, department safety meetings are held. Explosives Technology staff also participate in the many safety programs that operate plant wide.

B&W Pantex Acting Deputy General Manager Rod Johnson said the fact the Explosives Technology Division was able to achieve such a milestone is testament to the dedication of the staff. “Safety, security and quality are the basis of all of our activities at Pantex,” he said.

The hard work of the members of the division led to Pantex being named the High Explosives Center of Excellence for High Explosives Manufacturing by the Department of Energy.

May 25, 2012 at 9:00 am

NNSA BlogSome 345 tons of steel came tumbling down yesterday as a world record was set at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS), when a 1,527-foot steel tower used in above-ground nuclear experiments in the 1960s was demolished.

The BREN (Bare Reactor Experiment -- Nevada) Tower was the tallest structure of its kind ever to be brought down. The tower was taller than the Empire State Building (1,454 feet, to the top of lightening rod) and taller than the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas (1,148 feet). 

The tower was brought down due to safety concerns for personnel working nearby and risk to aircraft flying in the area. Contributing factors included lack of use, maintenance issues, and an uneconomical cost of more than $1 million that would have been required return the tower to a usable state.

DEMCO, Inc. of West Seneca, N.Y., partnered with Controlled Demolition, Inc. of Phoenix, Md., to bring down the tower. Because the tower was so tall, highly controlled demolition techniques were employed. Explosives were used to remove a small section of one leg of the tower at ground level and sever the tensioned guy wires and the anchor/stanchions on the opposite side.

See video here.  

May 24, 2012 at 11:00 am

NNSA BlogJohn Mitsunaga from NNSA's Los Alamos Site Office (LASO) has been named as a New Mexico Federal Employee of the Year by the New Mexico Federal Executive Board. His award is listed in the Professional, Administrative and Technical category.

Mitsunaga, a physical security specialist for LASO, also has a federal role in the lab’s Emergency Operations Center where he ensures the security and protection of sensitive assets on lab property.

Additional accomplishments for which Mitsunaga was recognized include oversight for technical security requirements for a sizable construction project that will provide state of the art security protection for the lab’s plutonium facility. He was also instrumental in obtaining funding to modernize protective force training facilities necessary to enable them to protect special nuclear material. The funding included construction of indoor and outdoor shooting ranges, a tactical training facility and a fitness track.

May 24, 2012 at 11:00 am

Chu tools

NNSA has approved a special tooling system designed to improve the processing time of the B83. The tools were created by NNSA’s Pantex Plant and announced last fall. See press release here.

The tooling system for the B83 program is now part of NNSA’s Seamless Safety for the 21st Century (SS-21) process. The SS-21 process fully integrates the weapon system with the facility, tooling, operating procedures and personnel involved in the dismantlement program to form a safe, efficient and effective operating environment. The SS-21 process has been incorporated into all current Pantex weapon programs.

Approval for the special tooling system took a few months longer than originally expected because of the rigorous approval process. Final tools were delivered and the Hazard Analysis Report was published and approved by Pantex Site Office. In addition, the Nuclear Explosive Safety Study was conducted with no pre-start findings.

The goal of the project was to streamline the B83 disassembly and inspection and dismantlement processes. The new tooling process is designed to have multi–purpose functions, which includes the ability to support future B83 assembly operations.

The tooling system supports a safe, secure and effective strategic deterrent and is being used to support stockpile surveillance and dismantlement work. The new tooling system will be used to support the upcoming concurrent retrofit of the Gas Transfer System and Neutron Generators (ALT 353/753 respectively), scheduled for first production to occur in July 2014.

The B83 program team includes members from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Pantex Plant and Sandia National Laboratories.

About the photo:

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu last year got an overview of the B83 tooling system from Steve Erhart, NNSA Production Office Manager.

May 23, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Anton Tran

Anton Tran, from NNSA’s Office of Nuclear Weapon Surety and Quality, has received this year's General Charles A. Horner Award from the Air War College. Tran received the honor for his paper, titled "An American Vital Interest: Preserving the Nuclear Enterprise Supplier Base.” The paper studies the impact of an eroding supplier base on the nuclear security enterprise's ability to adequately sustain the nuclear weapon stockpile, upon which the United States national security strategy and defense posture rely. The paper identifies current supplier base challenges, evaluates case studies from other industries, explores and examines potential solutions and offers recommendations.

The General Charles A. Horner Award is presented by the Air Force Counterproliferation Center each year to an Air War College student for the best study of an issue of most immediate and important utility to the US counterproliferation program.

Following his graduation from Air War College on May 28, 2012, Tran will return to Albuquerque, N.M., and be reassigned to NNSA’s Office of Nuclear Weapon Stockpile.

May 23, 2012 at 11:00 am

Employees, family and friends of the Y-12 National Security Complex fanned out across the region recently to help nonprofit agencies in a variety of ways – painting, landscaping, building and repairing, stocking food and school supplies, and much more.

With more than 1,100 participants – including employees, their family members and other volunteers recruited by Y-12 employees – working some 60 projects, this year marks the largest turnout in the ten years of the program.

The work took place primarily over the weekend, with some projects scheduled on other dates, and all of the projects benefit local individuals and organizations due to the generosity and dedication of the volunteers.

Projects this year included making quilts for NHC Health Care, loading boxes of food at the Valley View Mobile Pantry and at Second Harvest, painting rooms at the Scarboro Learning Center, building a sidewalk at Lenoir City’s North Middle School, and washing dogs for the Shelter Animals Rescue Group.

May 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Erhart Will

Pantex honored employees for their military service May 16 with a flag ceremony and luncheon. The annual Armed Forces Day Celebration included the unveiling of the Wall of Heroes, which depicts Pantexans actively serving or who have served in Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and Noble Eagle. 

There are approximately 900 veterans among the Pantex workforce. Recognized at the event was Pantex Senior Project Manager and U.S. Navy Seabee Capt. David Will, who is just three weeks back from his nine-month deployment in Afghanistan – his third tour of duty in six years.

“I believe we are blessed to have the jobs we have and to do the work we do here at Pantex – to serve our country. It’s a blessing to serve,” said Steve Erhart, NNSA Production Office Manager. “But blessing requires sacrifice….someone, somewhere always sacrifices something so that blessings can occur. It’s selflessness instead of selfishness. Our nation’s service men and women all sacrifice their freedom to ensure ours. Their willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom is at the heart of the blessings we all enjoy.”

The Pantex Fire Department Honor Guard conducted the flag-raising ceremony, and the event featured speakers from both the Pantex Site Office and B&W Pantex, including guest speaker retired Navy Capt. and Supply Chain Management Division Manager Mike Tryon.

About the picture

Steve Erhart, NNSA Production Office Manager, welcomes home Pantex Senior Project Manager and U.S. Navy Seabee Capt. David Will from his recent tour in Afghanistan at the Pantex Armed Forces Day Celebration May 16.

May 21, 2012 at 4:00 pm

FLP participants

The 2010 Future Leaders Program (FLP) participants recently were honored for completing their two-year program at NNSA.  On May 9, each graduating FLP participant gave a presentation on his or her accomplishments throughout the two-years and each participant were presented with plaques and coins during a graduation ceremony on May 10. NNSA Principal Deputy Administrator Neile Miller gave the keynote address. Miller spoke about leadership, understanding the role in NNSA’s mission and discussed the passion for the job they do. 

May 17, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Bren Tower

A world record will be set at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) on Wednesday, May 23, when a 1,527-foot tower used in above-ground nuclear experiments in the 1960s will be brought down in a planned demolition.

The BREN (Bare Reactor Experiment -- Nevada) Tower will be the tallest structure of its kind ever to be demolished. The tower is  taller than the Empire State Building (1,454 feet, to the top of lightening rod), taller that the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas (1,148 feet) and half-again as tall as the Eiffel Tower (1,063 feet, with antenna).

The tower will be brought down due to safety concerns for personnel working nearby and risk to aircraft flying in the area. Contributing factors include lack of use, maintenance issues, and an uneconomical cost of more than $1 million that would have been required return the tower to a usable state.

DEMCO, Inc. is partnering with Controlled Demolition, Inc. to bring down BREN Tower in a safe, environmentally friendly manner. Because the tower is very tall, highly controlled demolition techniques will be employed. The tower will be demolished by explosively removing a small section of one leg at ground level, then explosively severing the tensioned guy wires and the anchor/stanchions on the opposite side.

About the photo:

A sign near the BREN Tower cites the historical significance of the tower (in the background) which will be demolished next week.

May 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm


Two devices that delay passage to controlled-access areas at Y-12 recently received significant developmental boosts. The Access Rate Control System (ARCS) and the Delayed Latching Mechanism (DLM) were licensed in February by Knoxville start-up Sustainable Environment Technologies, LLC (SET). About five weeks later, Y-12 and the licensee signed a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA).

The ARCS is a kit designed for installation on existing or new full-height turnstiles. It generates resistance and slows entry if someone enters at faster-than-normal speed. The DLM slows unlatching of gates and doors from the outside, requiring a sequence of actions to retract the latch and giving security personnel time to prevent the door or gate from opening if necessary.

Y-12 President and General Manager Darrel Kohlhorst voiced support to SET President Dan Hurst, said, “Once we know that something we have invented works, we want to make it possible for someone else to use it. It’s our job not only to facilitate a license but also to work with the licensee to get it off the ground. If we are using these devices, there is no reason they are not at every one of the NNSA sites.”

Anticipated markets include other U.S. Department of Energy facilities, commercial nuclear facilities, pharmaceutical manufacturers, correctional facilities, and large sporting venues. Both devices were invented by senior technical advisor and National Security Technology Center director Lee Bzorgi, whom Popular Science magazine has called “DOE’s Gadget Guru” because of his numerous inventions.

About the photo:
Y-12 President and General Manager Darrel Kohlhorst, left, discusses commercialization ideas with SET President Dan Hurst, center, and Lee Bzorgi, right, Y-12 inventor. The DLM and ARCS are in the foreground, left and right.


May 8, 2012 at 1:00 pm