DOE/NNSA Cites BWXT Y-12 for Nuclear Safety Violations at the Y-12 National Security Complex

Press Release
Sep 18, 2007

DOE/NNSA Cites BWXT Y-12 for Nuclear Safety Violations at the Y-12 National Security Complex

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) issued a preliminary notice of violation today, with a proposed civil penalty, to BWXT Y-12. This notice describes nuclear safety violations that occurred at NNSA's Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, TN. BWXT Y-12 is the contractor responsible for managing and operating the complex.

The notice includes a proposed civil penalty of $137,500 for four separate violations of the department's nuclear safety rules. Violations were cited in the areas of criticality safety evaluation, work processes, program management, and quality improvement. Each violation contains multiple examples of noncompliance with nuclear safety rules.

In April 2006, BWXT Y-12 determined that uranium mass had accumulated above stated limits in a vacuum system filter housing at Y-12's uranium casting operations. It was later found that an unanticipated amount of lubricating oil had also accumulated in this filter housing.

While no one was injured, the notice makes it clear that the problems took too long to discover and correct.

Once discovered, however, BWXT ceased uranium casting operations, conducted a thorough investigation and undertook corrective measures. These factors were taken into account when deciding the amount of the proposed civil penalty.

The Price-Anderson Amendments Act of 1988 authorizes the Department of Energy to undertake regulatory actions against contractors for violations of its nuclear safety requirements. The enforcement program encourages departmental contractors to identify and correct nuclear safety deficiencies at an early stage, before they contribute to or result in more serious events.

Additional details on this and other enforcement actions are available at www.hss.doe.gov/enforce off site link.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a separately organized agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the United States and abroad.

Media contact(s):
NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371