Pantex, Y-12 Recognized for Sustainability

April 22, 2015


The Department of Energy recently announced their 2014 Sustainability Awards, with Pantex and the Y12 National Security Complex garnering recognition. Both sites have long histories of being recognized by DOE for their environmental accomplishments, and their reputations were applauded by CNS President and CEO Jim Haynes.

“I’m excited and proud, but not surprised, that Pantex and Y-12 have received DOE Sustainability Awards,” said Haynes. “Both sites are known and respected in the DOE complex and the public for their environmental programs.”

In the Texas Panhandle where drought conditions are still apparent, water is an extremely valuable resource. The Pantex plant’s efforts to conserve that resource received a sustainability award. Specifically, for an integrated approach to water resource management, addressing all water types as potential resources and identifying opportunities for their use through recycling.

The wastewater is distributed to four tracts of land, each totaling about 100 acres and managed through Texas Tech University in a cooperative agreement. The resulting crops are used as animal feed and distributed for flour milling purposes.

In May of 2014, Pantex reached a significant milestone with a cumulative total of 1.5 billion gallons of wastewater distributed through the irrigation system since the program’s inception. The project directly supports DOE and National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) water conservation goals and is an integral component of site remediation associated with Long-Term Stewardship pursuant to a CERCLA Record of Decision and a RCRA Groundwater Compliance Plan.   

Y-12 was recognized for its sustainable communications efforts, while Pantex received praise for its “resourceful and productive use for excess wastewater.” In a special awards edition of the DOE Sustainability Spotlight, all award recipients and their accomplishments are highlighted.

Y-12’s Sustainability and Stewardship team uses “one voice” to broadcast innovative and engaging efforts that promote site-wide sustainability activities. The team uses traditional communications techniques, as well as electronic media, including websites and Y-12’s intranet, to disperse the site’s sustainability messages. The site shares information on reducing waste, energy and water use, and encouraging the expansion of green buildings and sustainable landscaping. Y-12 sustainability communications encourage staff to improve sustainability at work, home, and in the community. In 2014, more than 35 sustainability related articles were published at the site, with other communications media (billboards, table tents, posters) used to reinforce the messages.

In further communications efforts, the Y-12 sustainability teams annually host an Earth Day event for employees. The 2014 event supported DOE Headquarters theme “Working Together to Reduce Our Environmental Footprint.” Activities and presentations from Y-12’s Sustainability and Stewardship, Environmental Compliance and Energy Sustainability organizations helped raise employees’ awareness and learn to be good environmental stewards. A new addition was Y-12’s LiveWise program, who asked for gently used athletic shoes to be repurposed to help others and offset tons of carbon from the atmosphere and regenerate farm land.