April 4, 2003
The Honorable Linton Brooks
of the National Nuclear Security Administration
U.S. Department of Energy
1000 Independence Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20585-0701
Dear Ambassador Brooks:
During the past 16 months, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (Board) has held a number of reviews at the Pantex Plant to evaluate conduct of operations and the site’s training programs. The Board is pleased to see that procedural adherence and conduct of operations for operational personnel are improving and that a program to improve operating procedures is ongoing.
However, a review by the Board’s staff has revealed problems at Pantex with the processes used to develop training, to evaluate personnel knowledge, to assess training program elements, and to conduct continuing training. These training deficiencies, detailed in the enclosed report, may affect the ability to improve and maintain satisfactory conduct of operations at the Pantex Plant.
Therefore, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 2286b(d), the Board requests a report within the next 60 days regarding the measures that are being taken to address these training deficiencies.
John T. Conway
c: The Honorable Everet H. Beckner
Mr. Daniel E. Glenn
Mr. Mark B. Whitaker, Jr.
DEFENSE NUCLEAR FACILITIES SAFETY BOARD
March 24, 2003
MEMORANDUM FOR: J. K. Fortenberry, Technical Director
COPIES: Board Members
FROM: J. Deplitch
SUBJECT: Conduct of Operations and Training Programs at the Pantex Plant
This report documents a review by the staff of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (Board) of conduct of operations and the training programs at the Pantex Plant. Members of the Board’s staff J. Deplitch and A. Matteucci, together with outside experts L. McGrew and R. West, reviewed numerous related Pantex Plant standards and records and performed on-site reviews.
Background. In October 2001, the Board sent a letter to the Department of Energy (DOE) noting issues associated with inadequate procedural compliance at the Pantex Plant. These issues are of particular concern given the significant reliance on administrative controls to implement many of the Technical Safety Requirements at the site.
During the past few months, the Board’s staff has been reviewing the set of actions being taken to improve procedural adherence, conduct of operations, and related training. The staff reviewed Pantex Plant standards for conduct of operations and the training program, and reviewed records of training for the W62 and W87 weapon programs and for the maintenance program. The staff discussed with representatives of BWXT Pantex and the Pantex Site Office (PXSO) the status of actions designed to improve procedural adherence and the coordination of material movements at the site, the Pantex training program, and W62 and W87 training. The staff also observed W62 training and W87 and W79 weapons operations.
Conduct of Operations. Recent observations have indicated that BWXT has improved procedural adherence and conduct of operations for operational personnel. During this review, the Board’s staff noted improvements in the control of combustibles and in formality of operations for the W87 and W79. Actions were still ongoing to improve operating procedures; therefore, the quality of these revised procedures will need to be evaluated in the future. Reports of occurrences and noncompliance conditions indicated that operational problems remain. Actions to improve conduct of operations appeared to be achieving positive results; however, improvements in the training program may be needed to sustain this trend.
Training Program. BWXT has a set of standards and procedures setting forth the elements of its training program. The Board’s staff found that these instructions and the supporting records did not ensure accomplishment of significant elements of the training program as required, nor did they comply with DOE Order 5480.20A, Personnel Selection, Qualification, and Training Requirements for DOE Nuclear Facilities:
Summary. These training deficiencies may affect the ability to improve and maintain satisfactory conduct of operations at the Pantex Plant. The Board’s staff should review the plan of corrective actions and the improvements to the training program.