N3B President Glenn Morgan at his office in the Enterprise Bank & Trust Building on Trinity Drive. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
It has been some 20 months since N3B began working on legacy waste cleanup at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and 17 months since they took over the actual contract following the transition. People in Los Alamos seem to either know about the company or have no idea at all. Legacy waste is toxic waste generated prior to 1999.
The Los Alamos Reporter sat down with N3B President Glenn Morgan recently to talk about the company’s place in the community and some of its accomplishments under contract to the Department of Energy Environmental Management Los Alamos (EM-LA) Field Office.
Morgan said the EM contract was put out by the Lab to find subject matter experts to go handle legacy waste. N3B was formed as a limited liability corporation to bid on the contract, between two parent companies – Hunting Ingalls Industries which owns Newport News Shipbuilding, and Ingalls Shipbuilding and they also have a division of Technical Solutions, Morgan explained.
“We’re part of the Technical Solutions Division but as you can see Newport News Nuclear is what the N3 is. We had acquired through a management and acquisition, the Stoller Corporation was into the management of legacy waste and they were known throughout the DOE industry and HII is who acquired those which is the lead contractor on this contract. BWXT is our partner on this contract but HII had acquired Stoller in 2014 and we were getting very aggressive with going after DOE-type work because of the disciplined operations that we bring to the table,” he said.
Morgan worked for Newport News and gained an extensive nuclear background 27 years before jumping over to DOE projects in 2014.
“That was at the Savannah River site. We were already on the M&O contract there so we really wanted to get into the DOE business and bring that disciplined approach to operations to the DOE. This Los Alamos contract was appealing because the type of work it involves ties in very well with the type of work Stoller had done as the prime contractor at the Rocky Flats cleanup site,” he said.
Morgan said Stoller acquired quite a few of the people from Rocky Flats so that experience was one of the things that was focused on to come and bid on the EM-LA contract.
“Our partner, BWXT, at the time was doing all the Navy nuclear fuel. They make the fuel, install the reactors and ship it to Newport News. We already had a great working relationship with BWXT. That’s why we teamed on this contract – because of the disciplined operations we could bring to this. This contract was put out to bid after the (Waste Isolation Pilot Project ) incident so the disciplined approach to operations was what was very much needed,” he said.
Morgan joined Newport News in 1988 and went to Idaho National Laboratory.
“I spent nine years out there de-fueling four of the protype reactors the Navy had out in the middle of the desert, so that discipline on a DOE site was not unfamiliar to me and I came in at the very beginning of this contract back in the proposal center as the Engineering and Nuclear Safety Program Manager – that was my key position on this contract when it was awarded,” he said. “My previous job was chief engineer at the Savannah River Site. So that’s the reason HII/BWXT bid on this contract and then we had our two integrated subcontractors Tech 2 Solutions which does all the ground and surface water and then Longenecker & Associates from a quality assurance standpoint. That’s how we formed the team in 2015-16.”
Morgan noted that one of N3B’s key people, regulatory and stakeholder interface manager Fraser Lockhart, was the final DOE manager that closed down Rocky Flats Nuclear Weapons Plant near Denver, Colo. Executive officer Joe Legare as also on the DOE side at Rocky Flats, he said, and then Stoller hired both men into the Stoller Corporation prior to HII acquiring Stoller.
“So we got that talent that already had the experience in the exact same operations we need to do out here today,” he said.
He noted that Elizabeth Lowes, N3B’s environmental health, safety and security manager, came to the company from the West Valley Demonstration Project in New York state and has also worked for Stoller on legacy waste management.
“This team was hand-picked by our two parent companies and from the first time we all got together for the oral boards back in February 2017, we really gelled as a team. We had a lot of fun together and you didn’t even have to say what the divisions of the responsibility were; they closed focus but they also crossed sometimes without any animosity towards each other,” Morgan said.
Morgan said Danny Nichols, former Contact-Handled Transuranic Waste manager for N3B, brought to the table a wealth of knowledge from Idaho as he had done the exact same type of work at the Advanced Mixed Waste Treatment in Idaho. Nichols passed away suddenly in June.
“So a lot of the techniques we are implementing in Los Alamos came from previous jobs one of our team had done at other sites,” he said.
Morgan said another thing N3B did that was very important and unique was that they appointed Lockhart as the regulatory and stakeholder interface.
“That’s usually done by the president’s office per se, but in this case we knew the importance of the community involvement and community relations and our commitment to the community so we stood that up through regulatory and stakeholder interface. We committed five percent of our fee to go back into the community every year,” he said. “Coming from the DOE side and from a closure site (Rocky Flats) he very much understood how to interface and collaborate with the community stakeholders and also the DOE because he was on the DOE side at the time, so that came together like a puzzle perfectly.”
Morgan mentioned the apprenticeship program N3B has established in collaboration with UNM-LA of which he is particularly proud. N3B is no stranger to such programs as HII has a 100-year history of such programs. Dr. Dorian Newton, who was formerly at the Savannah River Site as a Nuclear Operations Facility manager has taken on those workforce development programs for N3B, including a partnership with UNM-LA in a program to train participants to become Radiological Control Technicians (RCTs). Morgan hopes the program will provide a pathway for participants to obtain employment in one of the many nuclear-based industries across New Mexico giving them a roadmap to a fulfilling career in the field of nuclear operations.
He reported that nine students started the 12-week RCT program Aug. 12 with a designed by DOE to make sure RCTs at all sites have the same fundamental knowledge and that expectations are standardized across all DOE sites. The students attend classes four days a week and one day a week in on-the-job training at field sites across the Lab where they observe operations and work with instruments.
Morgan said N3B has committed to providing five percent of its earned fee over the 10-year life of the contract to benefit community organizations in Northern New Mexico. He said the majority of the funds are will go toward education initiatives as well as economic and charitable giving that will have the greatest impact on the region. The company has been soliciting nonprofit organizations in the region to submit requests for funding in the areas of education, health and human services, arts and culture, and economic development. Details of the program are available at http://n3b-la.com.
“HII is also an integrated subcontractor on the Triad National Security, LLC contract at the Lab, doing the nuclear operations over there from a disciplined operations approach in the weapons production area. I actually worked on that proposal a lot for HII with Battelle and everybody else,” Morgan said.
Asked about the transition between EM-LA and N3B, Morgan noted that there was no previous company to take over from because N3B is the first EM contractor that has been solely hired to do legacy waste cleanup.
“The most unique thing about N3B taking over the EM program is that we started the company from scratch. A lot of people don’t understand that. They think we’re just an extension of the Lab and that it was just a hand-off to us but it was not. We started our company 100 percent from scratch. We built our own business services from scratch, information technology had to be built from zero to where we are today which is a whole cybersecure infrastructure. We are still working on getting all procedures in place. We had to implement all 17 of our safety managements which are designed to protect the community and the environment,” Morgan said adding that when Triad came to the Lab for the M&O contract they had all their procedures in place.
“We’ve stood up a company of about 600 fulltime equivalents since April 30 of last year which is a pretty good, steep hill for us to climb to get to that 600 magic number they we are at. With that, we did the first shipments back to WIPP from LANL. We did that in October 2018 which was not in our original contract. That was not part of our original scope of work. That was a change after April 30 when WIPP had decided to start receiving shipments back and we said we could gear up and we did it with outside loading using a mobile loading unit with a crane that sits on a pad and actually loads the waste into the TRUPACT containers,” he said.
Sixteen shipments have already been sent and Morgan noted that to actually get a contract change and within the first four months of the contract go through their readiness assessment and be shipping to WIPP was one of the major accomplishments N3B has had on the contract. He also noted that N3B has achieved more than 25 regulatory completions of release sites which have been accepted by the New Mexico Environment Department.
“One of the biggest things I’m proud of is we’re meeting all our safety targets for people with no significant injuries to date. We’re meeting all our total case rates and days away from work goals,” he said.
Morgan said there were two transitions going on within a 12 month period at the Lab – N3B’s and Triad’s.
“At first there was a lot of angst the workers in the community. I think you’re seeing that settle down a little bit right now we ourselves and Triad really working well together. We are working for the best interest of this community. I meet with (Lab director) Thom Mason and (deputy operations director) Kelly Beierschmitt on a pretty regular basis so they are not pushing us away. They’re inviting us in,” he said. “We had a few challenges too. Danny’s (Nichols) passing left a big hole for us. We want people to realize that we are here to clean up the environment and protect our future. We plan to stay here. Our senior leadership is here to get the job done.”
When he’s not working, Morgan says he plays a little golf and that he and his wife, Patti, like to hike. He also admitted that he likes to fly-fish“ and take a few photos”. He said his wife is pretty excited to be in the Northern New Mexico community.
“She’s from Idaho, so it wasn’t a change she was looking forward to but once she got here she fell in love with it,” he said.