The Security Systems Division recently received the 2018 Outstanding Security Team Award from U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry for their efforts to upgrade the Perimeter Intrusion Detection and Assessment System (PIDAS) at the Materials and Fuels Complex (MFC).
The PIDAS is a network of sensors surrounding an item of value to detect unauthorized entry into the area. The system encloses 6.75 acres around MFC. By the late 2000s, the PIDAS was significantly outdated and reaching the end of its service life. Fortunately, the Security Systems Division within the Safeguards & Security (S&S) directorate was on the job.
In 2015, the team began planning and engineering for the new PIDAS. Construction started in 2017 and was completed in 2018.
The Security Systems Division underwent more than their fair share of challenges along the way. In addition to taking down MFC Building 718 because of how close it was to the existing PIDAS, in order to ensure movement inside and around building 718 would not continue to trip sensors, the Security Systems team also had to make certain that the existing PIDAS remained fully functional during construction and installation. Security Systems engineers and technicians carefully designed the new alarm system to work near the existing sensors and placed the new sensors adjacent to the existing system, in order to preclude the need to have a Protective Force posted 24/7.
They also learned in the process of redesigning the PIDAS that a sensor was not functioning at expected levels, and they had to track down a replacement.
“The team was incredible,” Lopez said. “We had outside vendors come in to help with calibration, and at one point, one of our team members got down and crawled on his belly to demonstrate that the new sensors were not yet performing at their highest capability. They stopped at nothing to ensure that our redesigned PIDAS was the best system it possibly could be.”
Since the system came online, there has been a marked increase in reliability and performance. Protective Force has unanimously agreed that the new system is quieter and more effective, and other national labs have even approached INL for advice on updating or replacing aging PIDAS technology.
Each year, DOE recognizes individuals and teams who reveal an exceptional commitment to their security mission, and the Security Systems Division’s award was part of this recognition process. As Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes wrote to Lopez: “Your team’s innovative process and oversight ensures the security of special nuclear material while also enabling continued support to important nuclear energy research and development without disruption.”
In late September, INL hosted a recognition ceremony to celebrate the achievements of Lopez and his team. At this ceremony, Lantz Turner, deputy director of S&S, highlighted the important work of the PIDAS project managers in achieving successful results. Lopez acknowledged the exceptional way in which the Security Systems Division exemplified INL’s value of teamwork, and Dr. Mark Peters, INL’s director, noted how critical this team’s efforts were to enable all the important work of the lab.
In Secretary Perry’s letter to the team, he wrote: “The group demonstrated a high degree of teamwork while redesigning the entire PIDAS…[as well as] a high degree of technical expertise and a continual quest for improvement. The performance and dedication of this group exemplifies the best from the Office of Nuclear Energy and represents the Department’s commitment to excellence.”
“Security Systems truly deserves this award,” said Randy Hughes, S&S director. “They consistently displayed excellence and commitment to their important role at the lab, even with an outdated PIDAS. We in S&S are so proud to see them recognized for their strong work ethic and commitment to protecting nuclear material and are pleased that this tremendous honor has come from their extensive efforts.”
The members of the team who received awards are:
Paul Lopez; Randy Anderson; Bob Denkers; Matt Erickson; Rick Evans; Lorin Hanson; Scott Packard; Rich Pauley; Dave Sommercorn; Steve Taylor; Ron Thinnes; and Lee Warren.
Posted Nov. 6, 2019