Pantexans recognized for stockpile stewardship work
Pantexan Dave Thomas, from right, receives a Defense Programs Awards of Excellence from NNSA Assistant Deputy Administrator for Stockpile Management Steve Goodrum, while NNSA Production Office Manager Steve Erhart and Pantex Site Manager Michelle Reichert wait to congratulate him.
NNSA Assistant Deputy Administrator for Stockpile Management Steve Goodrum recently presented Defense Programs Awards of Excellence (DPAE) to 175 Pantexans who excelled at Stockpile Stewardship work during 2013.
The seven awards were presented to teams involved in a variety of efforts which include nuclear weapons work, environmental remediation, high explosives testing and production planning.
The DPAE program was established in 1982 to recognize individuals or teams for significant achievements in quality, productivity, cost savings, safety or creativity of work performed in support of the Stockpile Stewardship Program.
“It is a great honor for so many Pantexans to be recognized for their outstanding work in support of Stockpile Stewardship,” said Pantex Site Manager Michelle Reichert. “The number of awards and the diversity of work involved are truly indicative of the dedication and innovation of the entire team at Pantex.”
DP Awards were presented to Pantexans involved in the following efforts:
- A team of 28 Pantexans was able to resolve an issue related to the W76-1 Life Extension Program (LEP).
- A team of 51 people at Pantex reconfigured the plant’s Laser Gas Sampling System to perform work on the B83, completing 124 percent of the planned workload in FY13.
- A trio of environmental experts at Pantex performed excellent work to complete the five-year review of the site’s legacy contamination cleanup remedies under the auspices of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.
- A team of 10 Pantexans was able to redesign and rebuild a device used to test high explosive response to electric shock.
- A team of 20 Pantex workers provided excellent support to the Warhead Measurement Campaign (WMC), which is a program designed to obtain a standardized set of signature data from the enduring stockpile and historical U.S. weapons.
- The NNSA Integrated Production Planning and Execution System (IPRO) Implementation Project Team achieved a major milestone with the deployment of IPRO at Pantex.
- Another team of 40 Pantexans is being honored for outstanding support of the new IPRO system, utilizing existing technology to effectively answer end-user questions and share knowledge with other sites.
Consolidated Nuclear Security CEO Jim Haynes, left, congratulates Lennon Mings, right, for winning a DPAE as Pantex Site Manager Michelle Reichert looks on.
Pantex Fire Department emergency response personnel work to extract a training mannequin from beneath an overturned car at the plant’s emergency exercise Wednesday. The exercise, which involved numerous offsite participants from local and state agencies, centered on a simulated tornado that struck the plant, leading to the overturned vehicle.
“The Last of the Big Dogs” has a new home after Pantex workers Wednesday delivered one of the few remaining B53 nuclear weapons cases to the Freedom Museum USA in Pampa, Texas.
The final B53, which received its “Big Dog” nickname from dismantlement workers due to its massive size, was dismantled at Pantex on October 25, 2011 in an historic ceremony. The B53 was a Cold War icon, and was the oldest, the largest and the most destructive nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal at the time it was retired.
Monica Graham, Pantex historian, was looking for a way to preserve the legacy of the B53 and honor the workers who built, maintained and dismantled it. The Freedom Museum, which is located about 45 minutes from Pantex, volunteered to take the weapon on loan to add to its large collection of historical military artifacts.
“This was an important effort to publicly display this iconic weapon that served in secret for decades, helping to ensure the safety of America,” Graham said.
The B53 was first put into service in 1962, a year when Cold War tensions were at their highest during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It served a critical role in the nation’s nuclear deterrent through the end of the Cold War, retiring from the active stockpile in 1997.
The B53 weighed around 10,000 pounds and was about the size of a minivan. Many B53s were dismantled in the 1980s, but a significant number remained in the U.S. arsenal until they were retired in 1997.
The B53 which was delivered this week consisted only of the outer casing of the weapon and is empty on the inside. It is one of only three such museum artifacts in the country built from a stockpile weapon. The others were assembled from training units or spare parts.
New entry signs installed at Pantex as CNS takes over site
Workers put up a new entry sign at the Pantex Tuesday after Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC, began its tenure as management and operations contractor at the plant.
Program has saved 800 tons of paper from landfill
Every year, the Pantex Plant uses thousands of pounds of paper that must be destroyed to protect sensitive information. For the vast majority of that paper, a trip through the shredder is not the end of its purpose, but only a beginning.
After a few weeks composting in a pile of feedlot waste, the paper goes on to help fertilize thousands of acres of crops across the Texas Panhandle and beyond, beneficially reusing a valuable resource and saving massive space in the landfill.
“This program goes hand in hand with our commitment at Pantex to be good stewards of the environment,” said Jimmy Rogers, Waste Operations Department manager at Pantex. “Reduce, reuse and recycle has become a way of life for us, and this is a great example of that effort.”
The idea to use waste paper for compost sprouted about 10 years ago when the Waste Ops Department was looking for a better outcome for the paper than burying it in the landfill. Traditional recycling was considered, but it can be expensive and difficult to find a recycler to take paper shredded as finely as security requirements at Pantex mandate.
One of the Waste Ops employees came up with the idea of combining the paper waste with another waste stream that is plentiful in cattle country: manure.
“It turned out to be a perfect solution,” said Bill Allen, section manager for Waste Ops. “We’re fortunate to live in a part of the country where we have abundant supplies of the ingredients for composting like this.”
Pantex ships a load of waste paper every week or two to Shannon Leavitt, who owns Natural Fertilizer Company in Wildorado. Leavitt’s company takes cow manure from a pair of feedlots in the area and spreads it into rows in empty fields, where the paper is mixed in.
After a few weeks of turning, compost is created in a process very similar to home composting that many people do in their backyard. Heat and bacteriological action break down the ingredients and sanitize the mix, creating a perfect fertilizer source that Natural Fertilizer sells and spreads across fields of crops ranging from vegetables to corn and wheat.
Leavitt said the compost provides a valuable mix of fertilizers to farmers across the area, although he ships to customers as far away as New Mexico and even Arkansas. The manure provides an environmentally friendly source of organic fertilizers nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. The paper breaks down into a good source of carbon.
“It’s a tremendous process,” Leavitt said. “That’s 100 percent waste material that we are converting to a very viable and beneficial material.”
Since the program started in 2003, Pantex has shipped 871 tons of paper to Natural Fertilizer. That material has not only been used to sustain the area’s abundant agricultural products, it has been spared from the landfill. Pantex pays Natural Fertilizer around $1,500 a year to take the paper, an amount that is slightly less than the cost of putting it in a landfill.
The program is all part of an ongoing effort to reduce waste streams from the Pantex Plant, which has become a huge point of emphasis within the Department of Energy Complex. This year, Pantex has diverted 89 percent of its construction waste and 65 percent of its municipal solid waste from the landfill.
Through pollution prevention efforts, Pantex has reduced hazardous waste generated at the site by 99 percent since 1987.
“These efforts help us meet goals established by the DOE, but we do this because we want to protect the environment,” Rogers said. “We live here. Our families live here. We feel an obligation to make sure we leave a cleaner environment to our children and grandchildren.”