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  • Committee OKs $43M for NNSA request, LA Monitor, 28 Sep 2013
    the money can t be used to perform construction activities including reconfiguring PF 4 to meet enduring plutonium infrastructure requirements Frelinghuysen and Kaptur said NNSA should request work needed to upgrade the lab s Plutonium Facility as a new line item construction project According to a report in the Nuclear Weapons Materials Monitor the NNSA and the Nuclear Weapons Council sent a spend plan to the House Armed Services Committee in August for the 50 million the panel had authorized The approval by the House appropriators appears to encompass 23 3 million from that spending plan including 6 9 million for planning and integration work for the modular strategy which includes 3 million to begin designing a tunnel from Los Alamos Plutonium Facility to RLUOB Also included according to the trade publication was 5 million to relocate materials characterization activities from the existing CMR to PF 4 and 11 4 million to prepare RLUOB to undertake a larger part of the mission previously targeted for the CMRR NF The Senate Armed Services Committee authorized NNSA to reprogram 60 million while the House Armed Services Committee authorized 50 million The Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee approved the entire amount The reprogramming request was sent to Congress last September Back in February acting NNSA administrator Neile Miller made the following comments to Congress in regard to the reprogramming request of 120 million In consultation with the Department of Defense DoD the NNSA deferred construction of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility CMRR NF for at least five years in FY 2013 Miller told the Subcommittee on Energy Water Development House Committee on Appropriations While this decision allows the NNSA to focus on execution of the Uranium Processing Facility UPF project and other significant priorities it requires investments in existing

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2013/LAMonitor_28Sep2013.html (2016-02-16)
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  • House appropriators ok $43.3M of $120M NNSA CMRR-NF reprogramming, NWMM, 27 Sep 2013
    for comment Frelinghuysen and Kaptur said the money can be used for planning and pre conceptual design work on an alternate plutonium strategy as well as to relocate equipment from the existing Chemistry and Metallurgy Research facility and to achieve operational readiness of LANL s recently completed Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building RLUOB which was built adjacent to where the CMRR NF was to be constructed The appropriators said the money can t be used to perform construction activities including reconfiguring PF 4 to meet enduring plutonium infrastructure requirements but they leave the door open for the agency to come back and request money for that work separately as a new line item construction project The House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee was the last Congressional panel that had to sign off on the reprogramming request but it was not the only one that didn t approve the entire amount The Senate Armed Services Committee authorized NNSA to reprogram 60 million while the House Armed Services Committee authorized 50 million The Senate Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee approved the entire amount The reprogramming request was originally sent to Congress Sept 13 2012 So What Can NNSA Really Do In August the NNSA and the Nuclear Weapons Council sent a spend plan to the House Armed Services Committee for the 50 million the panel had authorized The approval by the House appropriators appears to encompass 23 3 million from that spending plan including 6 9 million for planning and integration work for the modular strategy which includes 3 million to begin designing a tunnel from Los Alamos Plutonium Facility to RLUOB Also included was 5 million to relocate materials characterization activities from the existing Chemistry and Metallurgy Research facility to the Plutonium Facility and 11 4 million to prepare RLUOB to

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2013/NWMM_27Sep2013.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Editorial: Time past for coddling bloated nuclear agency, ABQ JRNL, 17 Sep 2013
    are collectively over budget to the tune of 16 billion and behind schedule by 38 years according to the U S Government Accountability Office For instance at LANL a new 213 million security system to protect sensitive nuclear bomb making facilities doesn t work So taxpayers are being asked to lay out an additional 41 million to fix it The chairwoman of the Senate Homeland Security subcommittee that oversees finances and contracts largely blames the agency s reliance on private contractors more than 92 000 LANL and Sandia are operated by private contractors LANL by a consortium led by Bechtel and Sandia by Lockheed Martin Former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine told Congress this spring that accoutability and internal structure problems pose a national security risk And there s no doubt NNSA s work is critical to U S national security but taxpayers also are tired of watching their money being thrown at an insatiable beast that too often fails to deliver results As long as the NNSA remains impervious to calls for improving its culture and tightening up its accountability the inefficiencies and waste will keep coming A congressionally appointed panel recently began studying whether to overhaul the agency

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2013/ABQ_JRNL_17Sep2013.html (2016-02-16)
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  • GAO presses NNSA to think long-term on plutonium mission at Los Alamos, NWMM, 13 Sep 2013
    said the agency agreed in principle with the recommendations and had begun to evaluate options for the plutonium strategy as part of its preparation for the Fiscal Year 2015 budget She said Los Alamos staff as well as staff from the Department of Defense s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office would be involved in the evaluation which includes a business case analysis of the agency s plutonium options Because the NNSA is still studying its options it hasn t settled on a price tag for the modular approach But the GAO outlined the price tag of one of the other options considered reporting that preliminary estimates by the lab have put the potential cost to just move capabilities among facilities at the lab between 480 and 820 million Such a move which would involve the expanded use of the recently completed Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building and the lab s existing Plutonium Facility would come with several other concerns the GAO said The GAO said a 2012 LANL study noted that other plutonium research missions at the lab could be cramped if other lab space was devoted to meeting the nuclear weapons though the GAO report revealed that a study of the space in the lab s Plutonium Facility had not been completed Following the study NNSA tasked the M O contractor for LANL with assessing the space inside PF 4 to see if it could be repurposed to better support plutonium research for the nuclear weapons program and other mission areas the GAO said Using Other Sites Could Lead to Delays Another option that was studied involved using additional facilities at other sites but the GAO said the study found that could also lead to delays in completing analytical chemistry and materials characterization work because of the time

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2013/NWMM_13Sep2013.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Director challenges cuts, LA Monitor, 24 Aug 2013
    work on an alternative plutonium strategy and the funding cuts included in both versions of the FY 2014 Energy and Water Appropriations bills Congress has not signed off on the reprogramming request which came about when the decision was made to defer the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility There have been reports the lab is considering an alternative strategy based on a modular approach to maintain the nation s plutonium capabilities Los Alamos will continue to do everything possible to keep our people and programs intact should these funding reductions come to pass but I am very worried that these FY 14 Pu program reductions will place the mission is on an unrecoverable trajectory McMillan reportedly wrote in the July 1 letter With the 2019 closure of CMR and significant underfunding of Pu infrastructure we will simply not have the capability to produce much more than the current pit output The trade publication reports that parts of the reprogramming request would go to studying that approach while other money would allow the lab to begin purchasing materials and equipment for existing facilities that will play a larger role in the plutonium strategy which is expected to enable the lab to produce up to 30 pits by 2021 The trade publication also reports that since McMillan sent his letter House and Senate authorizers partially signed off on the reprogramming request agreeing to allow the NNSA to reprogram 50 million and 60 million respectively But the House Appropriations Committee has not signed off including language in this year s appropriations bill rescinding previous approval of the reprogramming request The holdup seems to be the lack of estimates for near term work at existing facilities and the reprogramming request includes just a part of the price McMillan also wrote this in

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2013/LAMonitor_24Aug2013.html (2016-02-16)
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  • LANL Dir warns about inaction on PU reprogramming, NWMM, 23 Aug 2013
    of CMR the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research facility and significant underfunding of Pu infrastructure we will simply not have the capability to produce much more than the current pit output McMillan Delay Increases Risk to Pu Mission Since McMillan sent his letter House and Senate authorizers partially signed off on the reprogramming request agreeing to allow the NNSA to reprogram 50 million and 60 million respectively But the House Appropriations Committee has not signed off including language in this year s appropriations bill rescinding previous approval of the reprogramming request Their concern is believed to be based on the lack of estimates for near term work at existing facilities of which the reprogramming request only includes part of the total price tag The NNSA is believed to have responded to questions from the subcommittee earlier this month but the subcommittee sent a new round of questions to the agency this week Reducing this funding would mean that the initial steps to support pit manufacturing will not be accomplished McMillan wrote This increases the risk that there will be no path forward for our Pu activities once the 61 year old Chemistry and Metallurgy Research facility ceases programmatic operations in 2019 House appropriators also placed limitations on the operation of the lab s Plutonium Facility due to seismic concerns Senate appropriators have greenlighted the reprogramming request but they did not provide money for plutonium metal processing in their version of the FY 2014 bill This funding reduction together with the funding reductions in the House pose a very serious challenge to Los Alamos meeting our mission requirements McMillan wrote Initial Look at Modular Approach Promising In the wake of the CMRR NF deferral Los Alamos National Laboratory proposed a new strategy to maintain the nation s plutonium capabilities based on a

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2013/NWMM_23Aug2013.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Defense programs chief outlines challenges facing Los Alamos, NWMM, 26 Jul 2013
    to do in the last 20 years he said Among the major scientific tests for Los Alamos in addition to tripling pit production capacity in three years and the LEP Cook said would be to take the nuclear weapons pits designed for conventional high explosives and wrap insensitive high explosives around them making the weapons safer under a greater range of potential hazards all while carrying out the prescribed life extension upgrades and refurbishments on a demanding schedule Second Los Alamos would handle the technical leadership for scaled subcritical experiments at the U1a Complex at the Nevada Test Site The last test at NTS obtained more data than the 25 previous ones Cook said Another challenge would be to develop exascale high performance computing a thousand times faster than the current petascale speeds No clear path exists today Cook said noting it would be like changing engines on an airplane while flying Money Follows Vision Finally Cook said the laboratory would be tasked with technical leadership in understanding materials at the mesoscale and their behavior in extreme environments That s an attractive assignment for LANL and exactly the kind of work its proposed signature facility MaRIE Materials Radiation Interactions in Extremes is meant to perform Money follows vision said Cook paying a special tribute to LANL s advanced concept of studying materials in ways that will someday allow scientists to design materials at the atomic level rather than making do with the best materials that happen to be available In aggregate these six challenges exceed anything this lab has been called upon to do in the last 20 years Cook concluded Cook also noted there would need to be some new investments for repurposing the lab s Plutonium Facility and making maximum use of the recently completed Radiological Laboratory Utility

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2013/NWMM_26Jul2013a.html (2016-02-16)
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  • House, Senate authorizers partially sign off on new plutonium strategy, NWMM, 26 Jul 2013
    making progress albeit insufficient and long delayed progress towards answering the concerns previously raised by the committee Due to this progress the committee has no objection to the Department of Energy reprogramming 50 million of this funding to ensure continued progress at the Los Alamos National Laboratory and continued work to evaluate the so called modular strategy McKeon wrote The Administration must submit a detailed spending plan to Congress before obligating the funds McKeon said in his letter Sen Carl Levin D Mich the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee attached no strings to his panel s approval of the first 60 million and he said the committee will approve the remaining 60 million reprogramming request when NNSA provides a schedule for achieving Critical Decision 0 and Critical Decision 1 for the modular plutonium strategy The schedule must be provided to the committee by Aug 30 McKeon Warns of Impact of Further Delays In October McKeon conditioned the House committee s support of the reprogramming request on answers to a dozen questions related to the strategy and responses on six overdue reports and documents or a commitment to fully resurrect CMRR NF Based on McKeon s most recent letter House authorizers have softened that stance and are willing to accept the new plutonium strategy The committee expects the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense acting through the Nuclear Weapons Council to move expeditiously to firmly commit to a permanent solution to the nation s plutonium needs that meets the requirements of the military and the nuclear stockpile by creating a pit production capacity of 50 80 pits by 2026 McKeon wrote Continued delay in selecting and fully committing to a permanent plutonium strategy will have significant impacts on the nation s ability to execute warhead life extension

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2013/NWMM_26Jul2013.html (2016-02-16)
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