U.S. Nuclear Security Enterprise

In July 2014 a Bechtel-led partnership was selected to manage and operate two critical national defense sites, the Pantex Plant in Texas and the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee, under a consolidated contract for the U.S. Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration.

The role of Bechtel-led Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC (CNS) is to improve performance at both facilities while ensuring an uncompromising focus on safety, security, quality, and cost-effectiveness. CNS does that with shared business systems and other efficiencies, with innovation, and by applying lessons learned.

By 2018 the government had validated more than $300 million in cost savings implemented by CNS. Those funds are being reinvested in much-needed repairs and upgraded infrastructure at Y-12 and Pantex - built in the 1940s and 1950s respectively.

NNSA awarded a two-year contract extension to CNS in early 2018.

Bechtel's partners in Consolidated Nuclear Security are Leidos, Orbital ATK Inc., and SOC LLC. Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc. is a teaming subcontractor.


Y‑12 was the first site in the world to electromagnetically separate uranium on an industrial scale, but that was only the beginning. Since then, the complex has amassed a wealth of uranium know-how:

  • Machining, recycling, and reprocessing
  • Securing and storing
  • Handling and transporting
  • Analyzing and detecting
  • Training others to safeguard uranium

Pantex and Y-12 play key roles maintaining the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, missions vital to national and global security.

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For decades, Pantex has provided technology for the manufacturing, evaluation, and testing of nuclear explosives, joint test beds, and other special nuclear materials. This experience uniquely qualifies Pantex scientists and engineers to provide technology solutions for a variety of problems. Pantex has organizations dedicated to computerized special tooling, test equipment (including critical nuclear explosive testers), packaging, and system engineering. Pantex is also responsible for:

  • Carrying out nuclear weapons life-extension programs
  • Dismantling and disposing of retired weapons systems
  • Surveilling active weapons systems
  • Developing, testing, and fabricating high-explosives components
  • Storing and surveilling plutonium pits, the cores at the heart of thermonuclear weapons


Since 1994, the site has been involved in 16 international missions to recover nuclear materials, most recent in France, Italy, and Canada in 2013 and Belgium and South Korea in 2014. The team at Y-12 are responsible for:

  • Safely and securely storing uranium
  • Processing and manufacturing special materials vital to national security
  • Supplying highly enriched uranium for U.S. Navy nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and submarines (the very vessels whose power plants derive from the Bettis and Knolls atomic laboratories that Bechtel manages for NNSA and the U.S. Navy) 
  • Conducting tests and training as well as decommissions weapons to help prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction

A period of transition

During the contractor transition, between March and June 2014, our team—on schedule and under budget: 

  • Established the structure and processes to manage the two sites as one enterprise
  • Completed more than 3,000 schedule actions
  • Onboarded 7,800 employees
  • Inspected more than 400 facilities
  • Reviewed and approved more than 5,000 procedures
  • Consulted with dozens of community leaders and elected officials

The contract unites the two sites—more than 1,100 miles (nearly 1,800 kilometers) apart—under a new, consolidated company.

A new structure planned for Y-12

The new Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) is now under construction. When complete, the $6.5 billion facility—the largest construction project in Tennessee history—will house enriched uranium operations, including assembly, disassembly, quality evaluation, metalworking, and product certification.

UPF will replace several aging facilities at the Y-12 complex—using less space and benefiting from improved security and technologies.