WASHINGTON, D.C.—As 2014 begins, the National Nuclear Security Administration has released a list of some of its most important accomplishments and improvements during the past year. NNSA reached significant milestones in the areas of nonproliferation and counterterrorism, made a host of significant achievements through its work with the United States’ nuclear weapons stockpile, and saw improved operations throughout the complex.
“In 2013, even with a challenging budget situation, NNSA’s successes ensured that the United States’ nuclear weapons stockpile is safe, secure and effective; saved taxpayers millions of dollars; and supported emergency preparedness and the next generation of nuclear security workers,” said NNSA Acting Administrator Bruce Held. “Our people, both our government employees and the employees in our government-owned labs and plants, have done great work executing our mission and improving the way we do business.”
NNSA’s 2013 list highlights accomplishments in operations and at its sites, international partnerships to support nonproliferation and removals of dangerous materials, and emergency preparedness trainings and university programs.
Improved Operations and Site Achievements:
NNSA is delivering on its commitment to hold federal and contractor partners accountable for executing major capital asset projects within the approved cost and schedule baselines, and has been particularly focused on aligning contracting vehicles and incentives to taxpayer interests. NNSA has been recognized by the Government Accountability Office and Congress for progress made in these areas, and has been removed from GAO’s high risk list for projects less than $750 million as a result. In 2013, NNSA completed five projects on time and collectively over $10 million under budget. The largest project to be completed was the Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building Equipment Installation at Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, N.M., which represents the first nuclear project NNSA has delivered under budget and ahead of schedule.
NNSA announced the successful completion of the Facilities and Infrastructure Recapitalization Program, which reduced a substantial accumulation of backlogged facility maintenance, repair, and demolition projects across NNSA’s eight sites. (http://nnsa.energy.gov/mediaroom/pressreleases/firp022013)
Four of Popular Science’s 100 best innovations from 2013 are from NNSA national laboratories: Los Alamos National Laboratory for the world’s smallest, most portable X-ray machine; Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., for its fiber-optic network, the world’s largest high-speed LAN, and its non-detonable fertilizer formula; and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, Calif., for creating the first-ever retinal prosthesis, or bionic eye, which also earned a place in the top 25 best inventions of the year 2013 from Time Magazine. (http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/blog/four-popular-sciences-100-best-innovations-los-alamos-sandia-livermore)
NNSA’s three laboratories along with the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge received a total of 11 of R&D Magazine’s 2013 R&D 100 Awards, which recognize a variety of technologies created by researchers, scientists and engineers. (http://nnsa.energy.gov/mediaroom/pressreleases/rd2013)
As part of the ongoing effort to refurbish the aging B61 nuclear bomb without resorting to underground nuclear testing, two successful B61-12 radar drop tests were successfully completed at the Tonopah Test Range in Nevada on Aug. 14 and 15, 2013, by engineers from Sandia National Laboratories. NNSA also completed the first integration testing of the B61-12 bomb and tail kit assemblies interface and two hydrodynamic tests that will support qualification of the B61-12 life extension program, or LEP. (http://nnsa.energy.gov/mediaroom/pressreleases/droptest082913)
Building on President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, which calls for steady, responsible steps to reduce carbon pollution, NNSA broke ground on the nation’s largest federally-owned wind project at its Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas. Once completed, this five-turbine 11.5 megawatt project will power more than 60 percent of the plant with clean, renewable wind energy and reduce carbon emissions by more than 35,000 metric tons per year—equivalent to taking 7,200 cars off the road. (http://energy.gov/articles/largest-federally-owned-wind-farm-breaks-ground-us-weapons-facility)
The new National Security Campus at NNSA’s Kansas City Field Office in Kansas City, Mo., achieved LEED Gold Certification, an esteemed third-party verification process showing the building is sustainable and environmentally friendly. (http://nnsa.energy.gov/mediaroom/pressreleases/nscleed)
International Partnerships to Support Nonproliferation:
NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative, or GTRI, ended the year in support of President Obama’s four-year effort to reduce the threat of vulnerable nuclear material around the world. This year, NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative successfully removed all remaining highly enriched uranium, or HEU, from the Czech Republic, Vietnam, and Hungary. During the past four years, NNSA removed or dispositioned more than 5,110 kilograms of HEU and plutonium in total, which is enough material to produce more than 200 nuclear weapons, and removed all HEU material from 11 countries plus Taiwan. (http://nnsa.energy.gov/sites/default/files/nnsa/12-13-inlinefiles/2013-12-12%204%20Year%20Effort.pdf)
NNSA announced the completion of the 1993 U.S.-Russia HEU Purchase Agreement, commonly known as the Megatons to Megawatts Program. In December, the last shipment of low enriched uranium, or LEU, converted from more than 500 metric tons of HEU downblended from roughly 20,000 dismantled Russian nuclear warheads arrived in the United States. During the past 15 years, this fuel has been used in U.S. nuclear reactors, supplying nearly 10 percent of all U.S. electricity. (http://nnsa.energy.gov/mediaroom/pressreleases/megatonstomegawatts)
NNSA facilitated progress on a number of other ongoing partnerships with countries around the world to reduce nuclear weapons material, cooperate on combating illicit trafficking of nuclear material, and increase joint research in nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation. NNSA also negotiated two successor arrangements to the Cooperative Threat Reduction Agreement, which provide the framework for bilateral cooperation with Russia in the areas of nuclear and radiological material security, reactor conversion, and combating the illicit trafficking of nuclear and radiological material. (http://nnsa.energy.gov/aboutus/ourprograms/dnn)
NNSA successfully removed material that could potentially be used in dirty bombs from Boston, Mass., Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, the Northern Sea Route along Russia’s northern coastline, and Philadelphia, Pa. The removals are part of NNSA’s global campaign to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear and radiological material. (http://nnsa.energy.gov/mediaroom/pressreleases/rtg)
Emergency Trainings and Preparing the Next Generation:
NNSA partnered with federal, state, and local governments as well as foreign governments and international entities to support trainings and workshops around the world focusing on a variety of issues, including emergency preparedness, nuclear security and nuclear forensics. For example, NNSA and the International Atomic Energy Agency recently conducted an International Radiological Assistance Program Training for Emergency Response (I-RAPTER) course for 16 representatives from 10 countries in Las Vegas, Nev. (http://nnsa.energy.gov/aboutus/ourprograms/emergencyoperationscounterterrorism)
NNSA announced the selection of its six new centers of excellence, which will focus on the emerging field of predictive science at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Utah; the University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign in Champaign, Ill.; Stanford University in Stanford, Calif; the University of Florida in Gainesville, Fla.; Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas; and the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind. (http://nnsa.energy.gov/mediaroom/pressreleases/psaap062713)
NNSA, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.; Pennsylvania State University in State College, Penn.; and Texas A&M University in College Station, Texas, announced the first graduates of their new graduate-level nuclear security program, which began in 2011 and aims to develop and educate the next generation of personnel with careers in the nuclear and radiological security fields with both domestic and international focus. (http://nnsa.energy.gov/mediaroom/pressreleases/nuclearsecurityprgm052813)