Pantex conducts successful emergency exercise
The first DOE site to conduct an exercise during the COVID-19 pandemic
Amarillo, TX – On August 13, Pantex conducted a successful full-scale emergency exercise, the first this year in the DOE Complex to be held with COVID-19 pandemic protocols in place.
Pantex regularly conducts emergency exercises and drills to practice and demonstrate the plant’s ability to effectively respond to a potential emergency event. During the recent exercise the Pantex Emergency Response Organization (ERO) implemented unique safety controls to mitigate potential spread of COVID-19 while conducting the exercise.
“Pantex Emergency Management and ERO members were able to think outside of the box and conduct a full-scale exercise that allowed for COVID-19 controls to be in place,” said Daniel Gleaves, Pantex Emergency Services Senior Director. “Pantex has blazed the trail and identified lessons learned that sites throughout the Complex will use.”
From operations onsite to the Joint Information Center located at the Amarillo College downtown campus, ERO members implemented safety controls such as setting up stations differently with social distancing in mind, foregoing face-to-face for alternative means of communication, and limiting the number of evaluators while successfully meeting the exercise objectives.
“All responders followed COVID-19 controls no different than we do now at Pantex every day, which is to maintain social distance as much as possible, and all responders always wore their face coverings,” Gleaves said. “They were very conscious about continuously implementing COVID-19 controls during the response and were very adept at identifying ways to get the job done when controls impacted their actions.”
Third party evaluators gave the following statement on the exercise, “Pantex emergency responders and site employees ultimately demonstrated that the site can respond to an Operational Emergency effectively while operating under COVID-19 pandemic protocols.”
Pantex Site Manager Todd Ailes said he was proud of the way Pantex Emergency Management ERO members handled the new protocols. “While it was challenging to run an exercise with pandemic protocols in place, our people understood the importance of running these exercises and stepped up to work together.”
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.
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