The Council for the Conservation of Migratory Birds is pleased to announce the winner of the 2019 Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award. The U. S. Department of Energy/National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) Pantex Plant was honored at this year’s Council meeting for their innovative work with Swainson’s Hawks, Purple Martins, and other birds across the Western Hemisphere. The Presidential Migratory Bird Federal Stewardship Award annually recognizes a single project or action conducted by or in partnership with a Federal agency that meets the intent and spirit of Executive Order 13186 by focusing on migratory bird conservation.
Award winners. Pictured (from left to right) are Chris Cantwell, DOE/NNSA Pantex Plant; Beverly Whitehead, DOE; Jerome Ford, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service; James Ray, DOE/NNSA Pantex Plant; and Josh Silverman, DOE. Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
About the Winning Project
Project: Pantex-A Multi-Dimensional Approach to Contributing to Migratory Bird Conservation across Hemispheres
Project Lead: Department of Energy /Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC (Pantex Plant)
Partners: Texas Tech University (including the USGS Texas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit), West Texas A&M University, University of Manitoba (Canada), York University (Canada), Purple Martin Conservation Association, Disney World Wide Fund, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, and many property owners and volunteers.
Description: The Pantex Plant increased its on-going research, collaborations, and outreach programs in 2017 and 2018. Pantex added an additional partner, the Texas Ornithological Society, which donated geolocators to Pantex staff for deployment on Purple Martins.
Pantex sponsored collaborations continued the monitoring of nine species of concern and other birds in plots associated with wind energy research (West Texas A&M University), transitioned the Swainson’s Hawk research to juveniles (Texas Tech University; including the USGS Texas Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit), and continued with analyses of data gathered on Swainson’s Hawks throughout the Hawk’s annual travels through North, Central and South America. Pantex continued to collaborate with and provide a sixth deployment site for geolocators and G.P.S. data-loggers as part of an international collaboration that has now documented and characterized core stopover regions and durations (Yucatan and Central America) and specific wintering sites of the declining Purple Martin across the Amazon Basin. The collaboration is already visiting roost sites and building relationships with managers and researchers in Brazil.
The Pantex banding and outreach program fostered continued staff participation in a graduate-level class project (Texas Tech University) which has led to a peer-reviewed journal article, the start-up of a legacy Purple Martin housing and research project for the Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society (Texas Tech University), and has now resulted in the banding of more than 12,000 Purple Martins and several publications.
Pantex continued mapping of prairie dog colonies on the facility as part of a management plan that assures preferred prairie dog-manipulated habitat for four previously mentioned special status species, including Western Burrowing Owls. During 2017 and 2018, Pantex collaborations and staff shared findings and management implications from migratory bird projects through 17 technical/conference presentations and posters, four magazine articles, three peer-reviewed journal articles, and two other scholarly articles which are in review or press.
Other agency sites continued to express interest in implementing “the Pantex research model” or collaborating with the site (Las Alamos National Lab, Y-12, Oak Ridge National Lab). As testimony to the success and respect of the Pantex program, there have been three instances of university researchers wanting to include Pantex and staff in applications for grants. Building off the successes of its contributions to migratory bird conservation, Pantex has used this successful model as a springboard for similar collaborations under the national pollinator initiative. Pantex recommendations have led to USDOE/NNSA sponsorship of a Raptor Research Foundation conference and a new purple martin colony at the Amarillo Zoo.
Considering the high-level issues, data collected, shared management implications, and on-site protection strategies, the Pantex partnership may benefit the full suite (442 species) of birds that breed in, migrate through, and winter in the Southern Great Plains. Research plot data include 28 special status species and 26 others have been documented using the site. Multitudes of bird species and individuals fly through, rest, and feed on the Pantex property during migration, and all the while they must navigate through many potential threats and an ever-growing number of wind farms. Students working on projects are graduating well-versed in migratory bird issues and advanced technology. Some, having tracked Swainson’s Hawks and Purple Martins across the Americas have already contributed to migratory bird conservation of hemispheric or global significance.
Full article can be found on the US Fish and Wildlife website.
Alonzo Everhart, former Quartermaster First Class in the U.S. Navy, addressed an auditorium full of Pantex’s workforce Wednesday morning at a celebration recognizing the U.S. Armed Forces.
“Today we take time to thank our servicemen and women for preserving our freedom,” he said during the annual Armed Forces Day Celebration. “We thank them for their service, their sacrifice, and their commitment, while remembering that they need us to stand with them, and their families, while they are standing guard for us. We must continue to do our best for them, as they give their all for freedom.”
About 250 people attended the celebration at the John C. Drummond Center’s auditorium. The event was an opportunity for Pantex employees, veterans, and active duty military to show appreciation to those who have served and are still serving and remember fallen warriors.
Everhart is the senior director of Pantex Weapons Operations for Consolidated Nuclear Security, which operates the Pantex Plant and the Y-12 nuclear facility in Tennessee. He shared his story of growing up and serving in the Navy, and also spoke on his continued service to the country in his role at Pantex.
“I can imagine no more rewarding career,” he said. “And if asked what I did in my lifetime to make my life worthwhile, I will respond with a great deal of pride and satisfaction and say that I served in the United States Navy and continue to serve this great country while working at the Pantex plant.”
Bill Eckroade, the Deputy Field Office Manager in the NNSA Production Office at the Pantex Plant, shared his insights on initiatives being undertaken by the Department of Energy to support injured service members, specifically research on traumatic brain injuries utilizing the super computing systems within the DOE’s national laboratories.
Eckroade continued by sharing about the Purple Heart Trail that runs along I-40 across the U.S. from South Carolina to California. The stretch across the Texas Panhandle was the last section of the national trail to be designated.
“When the Purple Heart Trail on I-40 across the Texas Panhandle was designated, it completed the last link in a coast-to-coast national Purple Heart Trail,” he said. “Just as all roads lead to Pantex, all segments of I-40’s Purple Heart Trail led to this final stretch of highway – a stretch of highway that passes right by Pantex and the heart of our nation’s nuclear security infrastructure.”
Pantex Site Manager Todd Ailes shared that 20 to 25 percent of the Pantex’s workforce is made up of veterans and active duty military.
“Our work at Pantex is vital to national security and to our Armed Forces because our mission is to sustain a safe, secure, effective nuclear deterrent,” Ailes said. “As Pantexans, we have always taken great pride in meeting the needs of our Nation and we will forever play a part in carrying out the nuclear weapons mission.”
Wednesday’s celebration also included a tribute to prisoners of war and soldiers missing in action.
A simple, single table, known as the fallen soldier ceremony, was set up on the right side of the stage and Tori Hofeldt, former second class petty officer in the U.S. Navy, shared the symbolism behind each item on the table.
“This table, set for one, is small; symbolizing the frailty of one prisoner alone against oppressors,” she said. “The chair is empty. They are not here. We need to remember all who served with them and called them comrades. Until the day they come home: Remember.”
For more images of the celebration, please visit the Pantex Facebook site.
Pantexans and supporting staff from Y-12 practiced taking appropriate protective actions, activating the Emergency Response Organization, and coordinating with other agencies during the 2019 Nuclear Weapons Accident/Incident Exercise April 24-29. Hosted at Pantex, this large-scale, full-participation exercise involved numerous local, state, and federal agencies including Carson County, Amarillo Police Department, FBI, Office of Secure Transport, Texas Department of State Health Services, Environmental Protection Agency and others.
While NUWAIX is held annually, hosting responsibilities rotate between DOJ, DOD and DOE, with DOE/NNSA leading every five years. The purpose of the exercise was to strengthen the ability of all involved to respond to the national, regional, and local effects of a scenario involving a nuclear weapon-related incident. The last DOE-led NUWAIX was in Grand Junction, Colorado, in 2014.
Daniel Gleaves with Pantex Emergency Services said, “The visibility provided by this exercise allows us to demonstrate our ability to respond to an emergency, builds confidence from DOE in the Pantex plant and our response capabilities.”
This year’s simulated scenario was incident-based (meaning an intentional act) and gave the participating agencies a chance to put their skills, procedures, postures, communications and coordination to the test. While the plant took protective actions, the Emergency Response Organization members from Pantex and supporting staff from Y-12 played their part on the scene, at the Emergency Operations Center, and the Joint Information Center. The plant was prepared for and received the deploying members of the Nuclear Emergency Support Team’s Accident Response Group to address the technical aspects of the scenario.
“At Pantex, you have a great emergency infrastructure here and you folks know that you are dealing with one of the most sensitive activities in the national nuclear enterprise,” said Jay Tilden, Associate Administrator and Deputy Undersecretary for Counterterrorism and Counter Proliferation. “There’s a certain level of safety here and procedural control that is exceptional. So, the idea that we would even have an accident is pretty low.”
“The NNSA must always be prepared for an emergency of any kind,” Tilden said. “Going through an exercise like NUWAIX 2019 is critical because it’s a complicated scenario requiring a lot of moving parts. And if we don’t exercise it, we may not be ready.”
There were approximately a thousand participants in the exercise, including hundreds of controllers and evaluators. Carson County Judge Daniel Looten, who participated in the exercise, said over the years he has come to know the Pantex emergency personnel through monthly meetings and mutual aid events.
“That trust and bond exists. I’m very secure to know that my citizens in Carson County are being very well protected and the people out here at Pantex do all they can to keep us safe,” Judge Looten said.
Throughout the exercise and tours, visitors were impressed with Pantex’s emergency preparedness. The objective of the event was met in that it gave the teams a chance to determine best practices and possible improvements.
For more images of NUWAIX 2019, see the Pantex Facebook site.
NNSA authorizes full-scale operations at the High Explosives Pressing Facility at Pantex Plant in Texas
WASHINGTON – The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) has authorized full-scale operations at the Pantex Plant’s High Explosives Pressing Facility (HEPF) in Amarillo, Texas, following extensive readiness reviews.
The Pantex Plant is the Nation’s primary facility for the final assembly, dismantlement, and maintenance of nuclear weapons. Replacement of high explosives in weapons is an important part of NNSA’s mission to maintain and extend the life of the U.S. nuclear stockpile.
“NNSA is modernizing the Nuclear Security Enterprise to face 21st century threats,” said Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, DOE Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator. “Our dedicated stewards of the nuclear deterrent at the Pantex Plant deserve this modern, safe infrastructure to accomplish our team’s national security missions.”
HEPF replaces existing machining and pressing facilities that are over 50 years old and consolidates operations to reduce the movement of high explosives within the plant, increasing employee safety and minimizing impact to other plant operations.
NNSA broke ground on the 45,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art facility in 2011. Managed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers using a firm fixed price contract, construction was completed in 2017.
“Greening” information technology
Pantex continues to acquire electronics products that are environmentally sustainable. During FY 2018, approximately 95% of monitors, computers, televisions and other imaging systems purchases were products that met the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool criteria established by the Green Electronics Council. Nearly 100% of all computers and monitors save energy consumption by the use of power management tools.
Recycling to prevent waste
During FY 2018 Pantex recycling efforts resulted in the following quantities of waste shipped to various recycling companies:
Following the rules
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality conducted a waste site inspection of all hazardous and non-hazardous waste locations in accordance with the Annual Resource Conservation and Recovery Act including a records and permit review. This year’s inspection concluded no finding, weaknesses or observations making this the 24th consecutive annual RCRA waste site inspection with no violations.
Pantex continues to use digital technology (such as that used with the Radiography X-Ray machine used in the Pantex Occupational Medical Department) to eliminate the generation of silver contaminated film wastes and reduce annual waste generation. More than 1,000,000 metric tons of electronics equipment were disposed of through the use of certified recyclers or transferred or donated to other sites and/or educational institutions through various government programs. Accordingly, 99% of this type of equipment was not disposed of using landfills. In addition, more than 95% of all Pantex printers have duplex printing capabilities to save paper use.
Employing renewable energy
The Plant continues to use renewable energy-powered equipment such as solar-powered aerators in the wastewater lagoons, solar-powered lights at parking lots and solar-generated power to emergency notification towers. However, since the summer of 2014, the operation of the Pantex Renewable Energy Project or “wind farm” has allowed the Pantex site to consistently exceed DOE goals regarding the use of renewable energy and reduce energy-related greenhouse gas emissions.
Reducing energy intensity
Pantex has reduced energy intensity by 20 percent since 2015 primarily through the use of the Pantex Renewable Energy Project or “wind farm.” Energy intensity is the amount of energy used per square foot of plant’s foot print. By 2025, the goal is to reduce energy intensity by 25 percent from the 2015 baseline.
Conserving water resources
Water from a small aquifer beneath the Plant is pumped to the surface and treated to reduce contaminants. The water is then mixed with Pantex Wastewater Treatment Facility wastewater and beneficially reused to irrigate crops in the northeastern portion of Plant property. A similar use of the same water for “center-pivot” irrigations of a portion of the property east of FM-2373 is currently being investigated. In addition, Pantex has established several projects to reduce water consumption by eliminating where possible the use of “once-through” cooling systems.