Pantex and Y-12 employees honored with Excellence Awards

  • Posted: Wednesday, July 14, 2021, 2:30 pm

Amarillo, Texas—Employees at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, and the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, recently received the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)’s Office of Safety, Infrastructure, and Operations (NA-50) Excellence Awards. This year’s awards recognized five Pantex teams and eight Y-12 teams for their exceptional accomplishments during Fiscal Year (FY) 2020.

Consolidated Nuclear Security Chief Operating Officer Bill Tindal said of the award recipients, “We are here today because you found solutions to some of our toughest problems. We are proud to recognize your demonstrated excellence.”

Jim McConnell, NNSA Associate Administrator for Safety, Infrastructure, and Operations, told the recipients, “Your insistence on excellence, your tenacity in doing the job right, and your understanding that teamwork is often the best way to a solution are being recognized by NNSA. You were among the best of the best across the Enterprise in 2020.”

Revitalizing the infrastructure

Updating the existing infrastructure, dating back to World War II, has been a significant focus for both sites. Many of the 2020 awards involved stabilizing or dispositioning aging facilities as noted by NNSA Production Office Acting Deputy Manager Susan Morris. “Your work in revitalizing our infrastructure at Pantex and Y-12 will support the mission for years to come and is a worthy standard for future generations,” she said.

Pantex winners

Of the Pantex accomplishments, Senior Director of Pantex Infrastructure Shawn Spivey noted, “2020 provided a lot of adversity, but as all great teams demonstrate, necessity is the mother of invention. And, by necessity, we completed many outstanding projects.”

Those challenges included two unplanned projects, as well as two first-ever emergency exercises during a pandemic. The summaries of all honored Pantex projects follows.

The Weapons Evaluation Test Laboratory (WETL) Chiller Replacement required support from multiple departments and was not planned for FY 2020. Following the chiller failure at WETL, the team was immediately able to restore one of two circuits, allowing operations to continue until the chiller could be replaced. The design was written to be adaptable, allowing on-the-spot changes in the field to decrease installation time, which proved effective in minimizing field changes and associated delays.

Another emerging concern, the 12-104 Concrete Issue, could have significantly delayed mission work at Pantex. The team worked vigorously to resolve the issue. They completed the project design through construction within 12 calendar days with a long-term solution.

The team that developed a Multifunctional Component Storage System for the warehouse at Pantex effectively used technology to address space issues and enhance worker safety. The team planned and coordinated the work to avoid any impacts to production during installation and made 1,649 feet of storage space available for further growth.

The Pantex COVID-19 Emergency Response Exercise Project Team was the first and only in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)/NNSA complex to conduct an electromagnetic pulse-scenario exercise (in support of an executive order and with the support of the NNSA Production Office) and the first in the DOE/NNSA complex to conduct an operational emergency full-scale exercise while implementing Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for COVID-19. Responding to emergencies remains critical to mitigating high-risk situations without mission interruption, even with minimal response personnel.

Warehouse space in the traditional areas was at capacity at Pantex, so a team focused on Transformation of a World War II Facility. The work required more than 7,000 linear feet (1.33 miles) of electrical conduit, 12,000 linear feet (2.27 miles) of aboveground cable, and 6,000 linear feet (1.14 miles) of underground cable to be permanently installed and interconnected between several facilities and connection points.

The team’s vision of transformation and continued high-value service of Pantex Building 11-007 was realized in October 2020 with the first of many relocations further improving functions to be safer, more efficient, and controlled by reducing congestion in the operational areas.

Y-12 winners

With a site more than 75 years old, infrastructure is a primary concern. From replacing sprinkler heads to dispositioning facilities and innovating sanitation during the pandemic, Y-12 honorees completed significant projects to maintain existing buildings and prepare for future needs.

Steve Laggis, director of Y-12 Infrastructure Programs said, “As I work with my staff on infrastructure issues, I see on a daily basis the commitment each employee has for planning and getting the job done.”

The projects receiving recognition at Y-12 are summarized below.

The 50-Year Sprinkler Head Replacements project at Y-12 capitalized on lessons learned from previous sprinkler head replacement projects, resulting in fewer necessary system outages and corresponding costly fire patrols. Additionally, the project team mobilized and executed fieldwork in multiple facilities simultaneously because of limited availability to support the required outages. This project team has consistently delivered these projects ahead of schedule and under planned budget, largely due to extensive outage planning and coordination.

A collaboration between CNS and NNSA in June 2020 resulted in the first-ever Option-to-Purchase Agreement for Acquisition of Y-12 Development Facility. The facility will house research and development activities essential to the Y-12 production mission. The chosen facility can safely and efficiently accommodate the necessary research equipment and instrumentation, attract and retain top scientists, and adapt to a changing mission.

The option-to-purchase contract allows NNSA the ability to perform due diligence (including performing a preliminary design and executing an environmental assessment) before deciding to acquire the property, without the risk of other buyers purchasing the property in the meantime. Ultimately, this project established a roadmap for otherNNSA sites to leverage in the future.

Building 9401-04 Baler Disposition was safely completed. Removal of this hazardous structure reduces risk to site personnel, decreases surveillance and maintenance costs, and further fortifies the future success of NNSA. The team developed a plan to execute the work via encapsulation and vacuuming, which reduced the contamination inside the building. However, workers had to deal with temperatures exceeding 90°F while wearing full personal protective equipment. To manage the extreme conditions, the team scheduled third-shift hours to reduce the risk of heat exposure.

Another team was recognized for Building 9720-22 Disposition. This hazardous facility was dispositioned through a collaboration with the Environmental Protection Agency, Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, DOE Office of Environmental Management, NNSA, CNS, and UCOR. Their effort resulted in the demolition of the 12,712-square-foot facility and removal of 28,000 cubic feet of contaminated building debris in only three weeks.

Fire Protection Engineering Compensatory Measures (CMs) were reduced in FY 2020 to 21, achieving the goal of 25 or fewer. CMs require off-setting measures, such as regular patrols by firefighters. The team completed work orders for 135 existing and new CMs to achieve this reduction and reduced the number of CMs in place for more than one year by 86%. This achievement demonstrates NNSA commitment to worker safety and stewardship of the infrastructure necessary for continued mission success.

Development of the Lovelace Biomedical Research Institute Safety Analysis Report for Packaging will ensure the safe and secure removal of materials from the institute. In less than 6 months, the team completed all the work – writing, review, and approval – that typically requires 12–18 months, despite significant challenges during the early stages of the pandemic.

The Occupational Health Services Pandemic Database is an innovative tool developed to track COVID-19 cases at Pantex and Y-12 to maximize the safety of personnel and minimize the interruption of mission work. The database provides an efficient, accurate way to enter data related to COVID-19 cases and streamlines patient lookup regarding status based on DOE-designated categories (cautionary, possible, confirmed, cleared, and recovered). The team also shared the database with other DOE/NNSA sites to assist them with their tracking efforts.

The pandemic provided a unique challenge to Y-12 Building Services Site Sanitation. The employees collectively developed a process to safely, effectively, and efficiently sanitize portals, offices, breakrooms, change houses, and conference rooms while continuing to successfully perform assigned duties under exceedingly strenuous circumstances. Their efforts were instrumental in limiting the spread of the COVID-19 virus among essential personnel and enabled the Y-12 site to maintain its emergency, security, and production capabilities throughout the pandemic.


Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC operates the Pantex Plant, located in Amarillo, Texas, and the Y-12 National Security Complex, located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, under a single contract for the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration. CNS member companies include Bechtel National, Inc.; Leidos, Inc.; ATK Launch Systems, Inc.; and SOC LLC. Pantex and Y-12 are key facilities in the U.S. Nuclear Security Enterprise, and CNS performs its work with a focus on performance excellence and the imperatives of safety, security, zero defects and delivery as promised.

For more information on each site, visit or Follow Pantex on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn. Follow Y-12 on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Kathryn King, APR
Office (865) 315.5996