PNNL/Dep Sec

The Physical Sciences Facility Project, funded in part by NNSA, recently received the DOE Secretary’s Award of Excellence in Project Management. Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman presented the award to DOE’s Pacific Northwest Site Office and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).  Deputy Secretary Poneman stands at left in the photo, next to DOE’s Chad Henderson, PNNL’s Jeff Pittman, and DOE officials Marcus Jones, Daniel Lehman and Ingrid Kolb.

The seven-year, $224 million project was co-funded by NNSA and other federal agencies.  It was managed by an integrated team consisting of the DOE’s Office of Science, the NNSA, the Department of Homeland Security, and PNNL.

The 200,000-square-foot complex houses unique, state-of-the-art equipment to support national and homeland security and energy research missions, particularly the development and advancement of radiation detection technologies. Scientists use the Radiation Detection and Ultra-Trace laboratories to help identify weapons of mass destruction and terrorist activities. The Large Detector Laboratory and accompanying Test Track are used to develop and test radiation detection technologies for deployment.  Entrenched 40 feet below ground is the Underground Lab, which supports homeland and national security missions in radiation detection. The complex also includes a Materials Science & Technology Laboratory to develop and test high-performance materials used in future energy, construction, and transportation technologies and systems. 

The facility project, which was completed ahead of schedule and within budget, allowed for a smooth transition of a large group of PNNL researchers and equipment to new facilities while minimizing impacts to mission-critical research. 

DOE gives the award annually to management teams that have demonstrated exceptional results in completing a project within cost and schedule.

Apr 26, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Perkins Award
For the second year in a row, B&W Pantex has been selected as the recipient of a prestigious national award from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), winning the 2012 Frances Perkins Vanguard Award in recognition of its work with women-owned small businesses.

Last year, Pantex won the Dwight D. Eisenhower Award for excellence in utilization of small businesses.

“To be honored two years in a row by the SBA is a tremendous accomplishment,” said B&W Pantex General Manager John Woolery. “These awards validate our commitment to financial stewardship and to the support of small businesses throughout the local area.”

Pantex officials announced the award win at Corporate Technology Group (CTG), one of the women-owned small businesses Pantex works with in Amarillo, Texas. CTG was founded in Amarillo in 1981 as a computer and information technology service company. It now has offices in Amarillo and Arlington, Texas, and employs about 20 people.

The Perkins award was created in 1963 and is named after Frances Perkins, the U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Secretary Perkins was the first woman appointed to head a U.S. Cabinet post.

B&W Pantex consistently exceeds goals for direction of contracting work to businesses owned by disadvantaged groups. In fiscal year 2011, Pantex spent $19,897,945 with women-owned small businesses, a total of 17.8 percent of the $112 million in subcontracting dollars spent that year, nearly double the performance goal of 9 percent set by the Department of Energy.

About the photo:

Mark A. Padilla, second from right, assistant manager of contract administration and business management with the Pantex Site Office, talks with Corporate Technology Group (CTG) Executive Vice President Roxanne Hudson and B&W Pantex General Manager John Woolery at the CTG offices. Pantex officials were on hand at CTG to announce Pantex had received the 2012 Frances Perkins Vanguard Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for excellence in utilization of women-owned small businesses. This is the second year in a row that Pantex has been honored with a national award from the SBA for its support of small businesses. CTG, an Amarillo-based woman-owned small business, has been working with Pantex for more than two decades as a subcontractor.

The five people in the other photo are, from left: Brad Brack, small business program manager at Pantex, Woolery, Hudson, Padilla, and Mike Tryon, division manager for supply chain management at Pantex.

Apr 26, 2012 at 2:00 pm

The Department of Energy–Savannah River (DOE-SR) and WSI-SRS, the security contractor at the Savannah River Site (SRS), are hosting the Security Protection Officer Team Competition (SPOTC) at SRS this week. The 2012 Carolina Challenge at SRS marks the 40th anniversary of SPOTC.

A tactical, skills-oriented firearms competition, SPOTC is open to teams of protective force officers within the DOE Complex. In addition, U.S. law enforcement and international competitors will participate. Sixteen teams will compete with local teams that include; WSI-SRS, Aiken Department of Public Safety, and Columbia County Sheriff's Department.

Teams test the skills developed to protect National assets in the event of a real-world crisis. To negotiate the various courses of fire, teams have to demonstrate a wide range of skills under the mental and physical stress of competition, to include: maneuvering safely through obstacles; shooting from unconventional firing positions; and rescuing downed officers.

Apr 26, 2012 at 1:00 pm


B&W Pantex hosted its annual car race this weekend as part of the National Science Bowl competition. More than 15 teams of middle school students from across the Texas Panhandle gathered to race cars powered by a lithium ion battery down a 20-meter track. A bottle of water attached to the cars provided weight and increased the challenge of extracting speed from the cars.

The DOE provided kits the students used to build their cars over the past month. Battery-powered cars were selected this year to honor President Obama’s goal of putting one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

Panhandle White took first place, while the Silver Team from Bovina, Texas, came in second. Third place went to the Gold Team from Panhandle, Texas.

Apr 25, 2012 at 12:00 pm

Pantex employees help to plant a tree during the Regeneration 2012 event that was part of the Earth Day commemoration in Amarillo this weekend. Pantexans assisted in the event, where more than 250 trees were planted, along with landscaping and cleaning efforts at Amarillo's Thompson Park.

Apr 25, 2012 at 12:00 am

Health Physics CoverDan Blumenthal, NNSA Consequence Management program manager, and Steve Musolino, Brookhaven National Laboratory health physicist, have contributed as special editors of the May 2012 issue of Health Physics, the journal of the Health Physics Society. The special issue of the journal is devoted to the overview of U.S. radiological response to the Fukushima accident, both in Japan and in the U.S. The issue highlights an overview of DOE/NNSA's response: modeling; aerial and ground surveys; home team challenges; and the range of data assessment and products.

The issue contains 15 articles and commentaries, nine of which come from DOE/NNSA (two from NNSA and seven from NNSA national laboratories), two from DoD, one from EPA, two from HHS, and one from the states giving their perspective.

To see the journal, click here.


Apr 23, 2012 at 11:00 am


The lead that flies at the Pantex Firing Range has to land somewhere, and when it does, it could create a potential contamination hazard. That’s why a group of Pantexans got together to find a better way, and created a program that shows how Pantex goes the extra mile to protect the environment.

The project to “green” the firing range had two components encompassing both indoor and outdoor firing ranges, which are used to train Security Police Officers (SPOs) in the use of firearms. The effort reduced by tons the amount of hazardous waste generated during normal operations of the ranges.

“At Pantex, we are continually looking for ways to accomplish our mission while minimizing the impact on the environment,” said B&W Pantex General Manager John Woolery.

The indoor range was annually generating approximately 2,400 pounds of lead-contaminated waste through the use of lead bullets. Although much of the lead was recycled, about 1,100 pounds of lead-contaminated air filters and sludge were not recyclable and had to be disposed of as hazardous waste. Additionally, lead dust released when the bullets struck targets created an airborne hazard for the SPOs.

To correct the issue, Pantex switched to a new bullet trap, abated lead in the range building and changed over to non-lead ammunition. The indoor rounds, which are generally made from compressed copper or zinc, are frangible, meaning they break into pieces upon impact and don’t create an airborne dust hazard like a conventional lead bullet.

The amount of lead waste generated by the indoor range is dwarfed by the amount of lead that lands in the outdoor ranges. Outdoor ranges at Pantex are backed by earthen berms that are covered by a layer of dolomite, a mineral that is used to trap bullets that pass through targets and strike the berms. When the dolomite layer becomes packed with lead over many years of use, it creates a ricochet hazard and must be replaced.

Normally, the nearly 1,500 tons of lead-saturated dolomite would have been sent to a hazardous waste landfill, but the team decided it would be much more environmentally sound if only the lead was sent to the landfill. The team found a contractor who could sift the lead out from the dolomite, and the material was reused to cover the berms.

As a result, only 24 tons of lead contaminated waste was generated and disposed, and 1,440 tons of dolomite was diverted from the landfill and beneficially reused. Although the environmental aspect of the project was the main attraction, the recycling effort also saved money, reducing the shipping and disposal costs by more than $400,000.

“We feel like the firing range project was a win-win for everyone,” said Bill Mairson, manager of the Environmental Safety and Health Division at Pantex. “Not only did we protect the environment from tons of lead contamination, we protected our personnel from an airborne lead hazard, and we saved taxpayer money in the process.”

Apr 20, 2012 at 2:00 pm

It's the little things
In just five months, the Jack Case Center at NNSA's Y-12 National Security Complex has not only achieved compliance with a national building standard for energy sustainability, but has also accomplished a 21.4 percent reduction in energy consumption.

This reduction makes the 400,000 square foot facility Y-12’s first building to meet High Performance and Sustainable Building (HBSB) compliance, which is intended to create more efficient and environmentally friendly work areas. Under Presidential Executive Order, buildings associated with federal operations that are greater than 5,000 square feet in size will be HPSB compliant. Y-12’s New Hope Center is also in compliance, but had already met the requirements through LEED (Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design) Certification.

Dino Herrera, Deputy Associate Deputy Administrator for Infrastructure and Construction says, “As the stewards of federal facilities, we strive to achieve substantial energy savings and avoid costs with improved efficiency. This effort has had a positive impact for both Y-12 and NNSA, and the Jack Case Center will account for 29 percent of NNSA’s progress towards this year’s HPSB goals.”

The Jack Case Center was built with many energy-efficient measures already in place. Motion-activated bathroom fixtures have helped promote water conservation in check. Lighting fixtures utilize highly efficient fluorescent lamps, exterior walls are insulated, and all exterior windows are double-paned, insulated, and made low-emissivity glass.

For more information, click here.

Apr 16, 2012 at 3:00 pm

In its 15th year of participation, Kansas City Plant provided more than 50 volunteers to the annual Blue River Rescue effort. Each year KCP joins hundreds of community volunteers of all ages to help pick up trash and plant trees during the largest one day stream clean-up in Missouri.

The annual Blue River Rescue event successfully cleaned up approximately 100 tons of trash along its banks.

The effort calls on community volunteers to be environmental stewards of a 22-mile stretch of land that surrounds the waterway which flows near the Kansas City Plant.


Apr 13, 2012 at 2:00 pm

NNSA BlogThe National Ignition Campaign (NIC) team recently conducted the first “convergent ablator” experiment using an X-ray streak camera to measure the velocity of the capsule implosion. The ablator is the plastic material surrounding the fuel in a NIF capsule that blows off (ablates) when heated by the X-rays inside the hohlraum. This causes a rocket-like implosion that compresses and heats the fuel to the conditions required for fusion.

Convergent ablator experiments measure changes in the capsule at various stages of the implosion. A thin metal foil called a backlighter is placed behind the hohlraum to generate X-rays that illuminate the capsule during the implosion, much like a strobe light.

In the March 24 experiment, 181 NIF beams heated the depleted uranium hohlraum with 1.475 megajoules of ultraviolet light, while eight beams heated the x-ray backlighter target located on the opposite side of the streak camera.The backlighter pulse illuminated the imploding capsule, and the ablator edges cast a sharp shadow on the detector.

About the image:

The first continuous streak camera record of a NIF implosion, captured by the diagnostic instrument manipulator insertable streak camera. The broad bright region extending the length of the record is the x-ray backlighter. The dark line in the center is the shadow of a fiducial (reference) wire over the hohlraum diagnostic window. The slanted lines are the shadows cast by the ablator as it implodes. The image shows the ablator moving inward and then exploding after stagnating near the center of the capsule. The bright x-ray self-emission at “bang time,” the peak of the implosion, can be seen at the center.

Apr 12, 2012 at 1:00 pm