Pantex Waste Operations has successfully completed its 25th consecutive Annual Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) Waste Site Inspection with no violations, weakness or findings identified. The inspection was conducted by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) Region 1 on May 13-15.
Pat Moon, Waste Operations Department Manager said, “This is a significant accomplishment that is a result of the day to day attention to detail and implementation of compliance requirements by multiple Pantex organizations and personnel and shows a true commitment to excellence in the management of waste. Vigilance in meeting regulatory requirements and continuous improvement never ends as evidenced by our one self-reported non-compliance during the last 25 years that was related to shipment of waste to an unauthorized facility.”
Pantex’s Hazardous Waste Permit, issued by the State of Texas, authorizes Pantex to store and process hazardous and industrial waste. The inspection confirmed compliance with permit requirements and included facility walk-downs of all hazardous waste permitted locations, all less than 90-day central accumulation areas, all satellite accumulation areas, and various non-hazardous waste accumulation sites in Zone 12 South. The inspection also included a comprehensive records review to ensure compliance documentation met requirements of the Hazardous Waste Permit and applicable State and Federal regulations.
At the same time that the RCRA inspection was occurring, the TCEQ also completed a Texas Tier Two Emergency Planning and Community Right-To-Know Act (EPCRA) inspection and a Regulated Petroleum Storage Tank inspection. The EPCRA inspection was conducted to confirm that Pantex has plans and procedures in place to respond to an emergency and alert the public in the case of an event related to hazardous chemicals.
The Regulated Petroleum Storage Tank inspection was conducted to confirm that Pantex’s equipment and compliance demonstration documentation met applicable requirements and that the environment was being protected by comprehensive system monitoring. These inspections were also completed with no issues identified.
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.