National Nuclear Security Administration
Pantex Site Office
January 10, 2005
The Honorable John T. Conway, Chairman
625 Indiana Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20004-2901
The special tooling program at Pantex has not demonstrated the level of rigor the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) expects from a program directly supporting nuclear explosive operations. The NNSA Headquarters (HQ) lead assessment along with previous reviews including those performed by members of your staff and mine indicate lingering, unresolved issues. Although no operational safety impacts or near misses have resulted due to these program deficiencies, Pantex Plant is taking significant actions (both compensatory and longer term) that should bring the special tooling program to a level of rigor commensurate to its importance in supporting nuclear explosive operations. NNSA Pantex Site Office (PXSO) and NNSA HQ have been and continue to be involved in these actions.
In response to concerns expressed in your December 15, 2004, letter to Ambassador Brooks, I have attached a BWXT prepared tooling program report and the BWXT tooling improvement plan. As you know, several of the BWXT self-imposed compensatory measures address the recent discovery that special tooling fasteners may not have been torqued to design specifications. Not only are fasteners in the tooling load-path being checked, but a complete review of all tools that have features that perform a safety function credited within the authorization basis is also being performed. While these short-term actions are prudent and necessary to support resumption of all weapon operations, more comprehensive actions are also being taken to enhance the overall program with the goal of satisfying all of the criteria in the suspended NNSA special tooling review. Upon BWXT declaration of readiness, the NNSA intends on re-performing the special tooling program assessment under the same team leadership, utilizing the same criteria.
In the next couple weeks I will also conduct a management review to convince myself that actions taken, as well as those planned to improve the program are reasonable and sufficient. This review will involve several members of my senior staff as well as, HQ members of the special tooling assessment team. I would like to provide a briefing to the Board in the near future to more thoroughly cover the actions taken by the NNSA and the Pantex contractor and to answer any questions you may have. I will have my staff work with yours to make the necessary arrangements.
Daniel E. Glenn
cc w/ attachment:
Everet Beckner, NA-10, FORS
Jim McConnell, NA-1, FORS
Marty Schoenbauer, NA-12, FORS
Mark B. Whitaker, Jr., DNFSB