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  • Los Alamos Study Group
    life extension project LEP is beginning which would substantially revamp the remaining W76s adding 20 30 years to its service life and adding features now found on the W88 such as ground burst fuzing for hard target kill The W76 originally made for a smaller and less accurate missile is now carried on the D 5 missile just like the W88 It may have I do not know accuracy comparable to the W88 What targets to be assigned to new W88s could not be destroyed by W76s after the planned upgrades If any is this stabilizing or destabilizing The difference between 475 kt and 100 kt is not that much since the radii of destruction both above and below ground scale roughly as the cube root of the yield Thanks to LANL scientists and others we know that pits do not age in any way requiring pit production before mid century Today s and tomorrow s facilities will be worn out by then All other components can be assessed accurately as they age and replaced as desired without making new pits In the extremely unlikely event of total Trident pit failure there are extra pits to replace them The U S has approximately 13 000 possible more surplus pits of various kinds in addition to the 10 000 or so pits in stockpiled weapons Designs involving some of these have been developed and even tested Currently proposed stockpile reductions would transfer roughly 4 000 pits from stockpile to surplus A replacement Trident warhead was designed in the late 1990s that used recycled pits which were numerically adequate even prior to currently planned stockpile reductions This mature design did not require further nuclear testing All parties agree there are no safety security or reliability problems with any U S warhead None

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2007/PitProd_Jan_2007.htm (2016-02-16)
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  • Los Alamos Study Group
    dollars already invested in the existing CMR building Appropriators will recall that major capital funds have been spent to upgrade the existing CMR facility for example in Project 95 D 102 the CMR Upgrades Project Upgrades began years before that project however and hundreds of millions of dollars were spent on the existing CMR building which completely renovated many aspects of it What is the objective status of the various wings in this building and what missions could it house during the next decade I do not believe Congress is getting a clear picture of the utility of this facility What cannot be renovated or remedied is that fact that the CMR building is situated astride a Holocene fault a mile or so distant from TA 55 these two facts meaning that it cannot be the vehicle to carry forward NNSA s aspirations for a pit production support building at LANL It would be a good idea to review the capabilities and mission of the existing CMR building and compare them with the proposed mission of the radiological laboratory in the CMRR project LANL may not need to D D the CMR building in 2014 after all and indeed may have no plans to do so Keeping the existing facility instead of building a new one could prevent the cost of the CMRR radiological laboratory and could defer the cost of D D for the existing CMR facility The present value of the latter spending would decline the longer it is deferred and the cost of eventual D D for the new CMRR facility could be avoided altogether 4 There are serious safety and security issues that make a LANL a questionable site for pit production The raison d etre for the CMRR building collapses without a pit production mission for LANL Supposedly NNSA has not settled on LANL as a site for that mission which in any event is not needed to maintain any weapon in the U S nuclear deterrent for an indefinite period of time at least some decades But is LANL a good site for that mission in any event LANL plutonium facilities existing and planned are and will remain relatively vulnerable to terrorist attack because of their location on a topographically dissected mesa and their above ground design In addition PF 4 LANL s main plutonium facility was built in 1978 and not getting any younger ancillary facilities like the Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility are older still LANL has more extensive seismic issues than its overall planning has yet fully incorporated the CMRR environmental impact statement EIS used out of date seismic benchmarks and seriously underestimates the magnitude and frequency of damaging earthquakes In addition LANL including its CMRR facility planning systematically violates key DOE safety regulations as the Defense Nuclear Safety Board DNFSB has observed see attachment 1 and recent weekly site reports At the same time federal oversight at LANL is declining 17 Existing facilities at LANL are old and are not being operated with safety systems that would continue to function in the event of a major accident leading to a long running dispute with the DNFSB which has observed a long term decline in safety practices at NNSA nuclear facilities overall The DOE SEAB has recommended that all operations involving SNM like plutonium and highly enriched uranium be consolidated in a single site to save money increase efficiency and provide greater security They have recommended removing proliferation significant quantities of SNM from LANL as soon as alternative facilities are available as noted above These conclude my comments at this time I have little knowledge of congressional procedures but I hope a way will be found to impede NNSA s march of folly in this particularly crucial case as in others Thank you for your attention and if you have further questions on these issues or issues allied to them we at the Study Group will do our best to answer them Sincerely Greg Mello Executive Director Los Alamos Study Group 2901 Summit Place NE Albuquerque NM 87106 505 265 1200 main office or 505 577 8563 Greg s cell www lasg org gmello lasg org Attachments 1 Memorandum to House Energy and Water DNFSB issues regarding CMRR project 2 Ralph Vartebedian Nuclear spending comes under fire July 30 2006 Los Angeles Times Copies to Scott Burnison House E W Appropriations Subcommittee Jon Epstein office of Senator Jeff Bingaman Johanna Polsenberg office of Congressman Tom Udall Los Alamos Study Group core Attachment 1 To Scott Burnison House Energy and Water Subcommittee From Greg Mello and Damon Hill Date October 17 2005 Re Proposed Los Alamos National Laboratory LANL Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement CMRR Facility safety standards are strongly questioned by the Defense Nuclear Safety Board DNFSB The DNFSB has long requested active building ventilation and monitoring systems for major accidents at Hazard Category II nuclear facilities One such facility is Building PF 4 at LANL s Technical Area TA 55 which does not have such a system The National Nuclear Security Administration NNSA is proposing to build the CMRR without an active safety class ventilation system i e one which will continue to function in the event of foreseeable major accidents The DNFSB recommendation 2004 1 and its supporting technical report excerpted below document a trend in Department of Energy DOE management of substituting flawed paper studies for actual hardware safety class ventilation systems The DNFSB believes that both mission and safety are served by active ventilation controls which should be incorporated in the building design from the beginning The NNSA is resisting applying these standards to the proposed CMRR The only interpretation we can draw from this information is that the CMRR is not being adequately designed This exposes the public the NNSA the project itself and the laboratory to a number of potential problems It also raises the specter that the money appropriated to the project could be wasted as has been the case in so many other DOE projects As the Subcommittee is well aware there are many other factors which raise questions about the propriety of rushing forward with the CMRR at this time Is the CMRR being rushed to failure It is too early for us to tell but the information summarized here begs this question Of particular concern is the concurrent design build strategy being proposed for this project which is inappropriate for such a complex facility It appears that important corners are already being cut The predecessor to this project the Special Nuclear Materials Research and Development Laboratory was touted as absolutely urgent essential by DOE and LANL in 1989 It was never built and to my knowledge the country hasn t suffered for its lack in the intervening 16 years We strongly recommend that no funding be provided for this project until these and other issues are resolved 1 Relevant portions of DNFSB Weekly Site Reports to date emphasis added http www dnfsb gov pub docs lanl wr la html 3 25 2005 NNSA has approved the CMRR Preliminary Hazards Assessment PHA in support of Critical Decision 1 Nine conditions of approval COAs were imposed covering issues such as little evaluation of chemical hazards nonconservative assumptions e g airborne release fractions for certain scenarios questionable criteria for determining the significance of potential worker exposures and defensibility of the proposed safety class passive confinement strategy NNSA agreed with LANL not pursuing active ventilation as safety significant at this stage which is counter to Board Recommendation 04 2 NNSA tasked the project to perform a detailed cost benefit analysis between active and passive confinement and other control options such as fire suppression While NNSA acknowledged the difficulty in technically defending a passive confinement strategy NNSA expressed concerns that active confinement may exacerbate certain scenarios resulting in unintended hazards and incurring excessive life cycle costs Citing a preference for preventive over mitigative and passive over active controls NNSA indicated that a combination of fire barriers and fire suppression needs to be explored as a alternative safety class control The merits and significance of these concerns are unestablished 3 20 2005 On Wednesday the Deputy Secretary approved Critical Decision 1 CD 1 start of preliminary design for CMRR as well as CD 0 for CMR decontamination and decommissioning NNSA owes the Board a briefing within 30 days of CD 1 approval on the rationale for using a design build approach and on its plan to ensure adequate NNSA and LANL technical staffing for preliminary design ref Board ltr 2 24 05 1 28 2005 The CMRR project Critical Decision 1 CD 1 package is currently being finalized for submission to the Deputy Secretary of Energy and the Energy Systems Acquisition Advisory Board The estimated project cost is 850M and encompasses both the primary nuclear facility and a supporting radiological laboratory The scope for these facilities will meet the baseline project requirements but provide no mission contingency capability Projected facility start up is in late 2012 Completion and submission of the CD 1 package is awaiting LASO approval of the Preliminary Hazard Analysis and concurrence with the proposed location of radiological support laboratory both of which are expected to be received by the first week in February Project personnel are striving to submit the CD 1 package prior to the end of February to avoid approval delays associated with senior management turnover at DOE headquarters 4 2 2004 CMRR has completed conceptual design and expects a CD 1 within the next 2 months There may be hidden assumptions that affect safety such as assuming no ball milling and no Pu 238 operations These need to be explicitly reconciled against mission needs and addressed The project would also benefit if it had NNSA approved principle guiding criteria that capture the top level design strategy e g engineered controls over admin controls the need for post accident monitoring As is the approach appears to copy the TA 55 ventilation strategy which may not be the best for either mission or safety 11 7 2003 The CMR replacement facility CMRR is in conceptual design Several key decisions such as the extent of CMR upgrades and the appropriateness of the current CMR safety basis a BIO and interim TSRs Technical Safety Requirements have hinged on CMRR being ready in the 2010 time frame The site rep understands that CMRR is now not expected to be ready until sometime well after 2010 It may be worthwhile for NNSA and LANL to periodically review previous assumptions and conclusions e g from cost benefit analyses in light of CMRR progress and assess the merit of potential improvements verses the continued risk of operating without them This week LANL informed the staff it is initiating such a review for the safety basis 6 13 2003 On Monday and Tuesday the DNFSB site rep attended an NNSA LANL workshop on the CMRR Project This project is intended to replace the aging CMR Building and maintain LANL capabilities in actinide analytical chemistry and material characterization as well as increase LANL secure vault space It is about midway through the conceptual design phase roughly 3 design stage LANL estimates the cost range is 420M 955M and schedule range is 9 14 years Near term schedule includes layout selection in September record of decision next January and start of preliminary design next March 2 Excerpt from DNFSB Recommendation 04 02 to the Secretary of Energy http www deprep org 2004 FB04D07A PDF There is a long standing safety practice in the design construction and operation of nuclear facilities to build in and maintain structures systems and components that contain or confine radioactive materials The Department of Energy DOE establishes requirements to ensure such containment or confinement In the hierarchy of safety controls passive design features are preferred over active systems however controls must be capable of performing their intended function Passive confinement systems are not necessarily capable of containing hazardous materials with confidence because they allow a quantity of unfiltered air contaminated with radioactive material to be released from an operating nuclear facility following certain accident scenarios Safety related active confinement ventilation systems will continue to function during an accident thereby ensuring that radioactive material is captured by filters before it can be released into the environment The enclosed technical report DNFSB TECH 34 Confinement of Radioactive Materials at Defense Nuclear Facilities compares the benefits of including a safety related active confinement ventilation system to those of relying only on a passive confinement system This technical report illustrates that using only a passive confinement system for an existing or new defense nuclear processing facility would not account for many safety considerations such as post accident monitoring and response and may result in the release of an undeterminable amount of radioactive materials the consequences of which could approach that of the unmitigated scenarios The Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board Board has advised DOE in various ways during the past decade regarding the need to pay increased attention to the design and operational reliability of the confinement ventilation systems at defense nuclear facilities These Board efforts include transmittal of a technical report on May 31 1995 Overview of Ventilation Systems at Selected DOE Plutonium Processing and Handling Facilities a letter to the Deputy Secretary of Energy dated July 8 1999 and Recommendation 2000 2 Configuration Management Vital Safety Systems on March 8 2000 This advice has helped DOE improve the reliability of its confinement ventilation systems However DOE requirements have become less prescriptive during the last decade as DOE Order 6430 IA General Design Criteria Manual was replaced with DOE Order 420 1 Facility Safety and its subsequent revisions Furthermore it has become apparent that the Board s advice on confinement systems is not being rigorously pursued as evidenced by the following On December 27 2002 the Board sent a letter to the National Nuclear Security Administration NNSA regarding the confinement concept used for the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility at the Y 12 National Security Complex The proposed confinement concept was based on isolating the radioactive material in the building using a passive confinement system under certain abnormal events The Board communicated safety concerns associated with this concept in the letter subsequently the confinement concept for HEUMF was modified to adopt a safety related active ventilation system On April 12 2004 the Board sent a letter to the Administrator of NNSA regarding similar safety issues related to the confinement systems for the plutonium facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory The proposed approach utilized passive confinement of radioactive material from the facility during certain accident scenarios Further because the offsite dose consequences of such an unfiltered release were calculated to be below DOE s evaluation guideline 25 rem the proposal included downgrading the existing safety class active confinement ventilation system to a safety significant system The Board believed that the new approach was inconsistent with a defense in depth philosophy Subsequently the Livermore Site Office commissioned an independent calculation of the amount of the unfiltered release These calculations yielded results that were an order of magnitude greater than the original building leakage estimates clearly indicating that significant uncertainties existed in the analytical techniques As a result NNSA decided to maintain the existing safety class active confinement ventilation system On August 27 2004 the Board sent a letter to the Under Secretary of Energy regarding the confinement approach proposed for the Salt Waste Processing Facility at the Savannah River Site The confinement concept for this new facility is based on isolation of the process building using passive confinement during accident scenarios The Board suggested that the salt waste facility should be designed with a safety related active ventilation system A number of existing facilities including the TA 55 Plutonium Facility the Device Assembly Facility and the Hanford Evaporator rely on passive or non safety related confinement systems More importantly designs for proposed facilities including Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Facility and the Salt Waste Processing Facility are based on the same passive confinement concept and use an assumed quantitative value for the building leak path factor as a design criterion These examples illustrate two primary concerns First a reliance on calculations that do not appropriately account for large uncertainties is not defensible These analytically determined building leak path factors are based on a combination of several computer programs that were not specifically designed for this purpose Furthermore it is generally impossible for these programs to model the true conditions of a real accident because of the uncertain behavior of the workers and emergency crews responding to the event Second these examples represent a fundamental change in DOE s approach to protection of the public near defense nuclear facilities DOE appears to be using the evaluation guideline of 25 rem exposure at the site boundary as a design criterion and an allowable dose to the public This is contrary to the Board s July 8 1999 letter to the Deputy Secretary of Energy that states the 25 rem evaluation guideline is not to be treated as a design acceptance criterion nor as a justification for nullifying the general design criteria relative to defense in depth safety measures It is also contrary to DOE STD 3009 that states that the 25 rem evaluation guideline is not to be treated as a design acceptance criterion However the Board continues to see 25 rem at the site boundary used as an acceptance criterion for the performance of confinement systems The Board is concerned that in these examples DOE and its contractors are underestimating the significance of the performance requirements for a confinement ventilation system and are relying on questionable calculations of offsite doses to evaluate performance The Board reiterates that the 25 rem evaluation guideline is solely to be used for guidance for the classification of safety controls and not as an acceptable dose to the public for the purpose of designing or operating defense nuclear facilities Notwithstanding the concerns discussed above DOE continues to

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/CMRR_Reid_ltr.htm (2016-02-16)
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  • Los Alamos Study Group
    of the nuclear weapons enterprise as a whole Or as seems likely all of the above Meanwhile anyone who cares about Los Alamos will want to take a very hard look at the consequences of hosting a pit factory Pit production like Goethe s story of the sorcerer s apprentice is about somebody s desire for power that ends up being very hard to control Should plutonium manufacturing really take root in Los Alamos the lab s culture will change dramatically Science however we define it must be de emphasized financially and culturally Pit production with its associated security and safety needs and its expensive new construction will trump most science There are very few halfway measures the costs and impacts tend to come in large chunks or not at all NNSA s highest priority is now the Reliable Replacement Warhead RRW project and the associated responsive infrastructure LANL is the pivotal site for these slogans because there is as yet no pit manufacturing capacity in the U S and pits will remain the rate determining step for RRW manufacture Meanwhile LANL s overall budget is unlikely to grow and may decline somewhat Within it increases in management fee pension fund contributions and gross receipts tax have already occurred Inflation will keep happening Increasing construction budgets much of it supporting pit production and much of it currently low balled will cut further into program budgets The crystal ball is cloudy but a decent guesstimate might be that these trends will cut science at LANL by about half LANS will protect pit production because NNSA values it most highly and because the LANS partners value their 36 6 billion contract to manage LANL This will change the culture at LANL Many good scientists won t come here LANL may well evolve

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2007/PitProd_Oct_2006.htm (2016-02-16)
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  • Los Alamos Study Group
    number about 6 000 in 2012 The first weapons to be replaced are the two Trident warheads the W76 and W88 The W76 is now in the beginning stages of a 2 5 billion upgrade expected to extend its life for another 30 years This also happens to be the expected life of the RRW Go figure What will happen after 2012 the end of the SWEIS analysis period That depends on decisions made between now and then One of the most crucial decisions is now pending before the Energy and Water Appropriations Conference Committee namely whether to continue funding for the proposed Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement CMRR building The CMRR is a 1 billion 400 000 square foot facility that would provide pit production support at TA 55 among secondary purposes The House Appropriations Committee led in this matter by David Hobson R OH believes the CMRR is irrational and absurd and has proposed cutting all funding last year or nearly all funding this year for the project Senator Domenici got the CMRR fully funded last year This year s negotiations are still pending and it is unlikely that a decision will take place before the Nov 7 elections How many pits might LANL make Possibly all of them Take a look at the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board SEAB report on the future of the nuclear weapons complex The SEAB while generally endorsing the concept of a Consolidated Nuclear Production Center CNPC that would integrate all major nuclear activities at a single site also advised that LANL s main plutonium building PF 4 could produce 20 times as many pits per year as it now does Depending on how one interprets this PF 4 s alleged potential production appears to be in the range of 200 400 pits year NNSA s most recent admitted plan for large scale pit production was the so called Modern Pit Facility MPF a roughly 4 billion project capable of making 125 450 pits year originally to come on line circa 2020 LANL was the preferred site for the MPF from the technical perspective NNSA having failed to sell this plan now requests no funding for the MPF through at least 2011 Instead the realignment of prior Modern Pit Facility funding starting in FY 2007 will support NNSA planning to increase pit manufacturing capacity at LANL Looking at total pit manufacturing sunk costs at LANL since 1995 DOE and NNSA have already spent about 2 5 B in 2006 dollars laying the groundwork for pit production at LANL A decade from now NNSA assuming its requests are funded will have spent a few more billions of dollars on pit production at LANL the exact number depending on what you want to count So 10 years from now if all goes according to published plans funds comparable in size and purpose to those anticipated for the MPF will have been spent at LANL and a production capacity comparable to the MPF will have

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2007/PitProd_Sept_2006.htm (2016-02-16)
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  • Los Alamos Study Group
    Replacement CMRR facility to be located at TA 55 adjacent and connected to PF 4 The CMRR replaces an old facility at TA 3 which was to be used for pit production in DOE s 1996 plan but which was found to be situated over an active earthquake fault The CMRR is similar to a facility proposed in 1989 that was defeated by New Mexico activists in 1990 The CMRR a 900 million project has been opposed by House appropriators but promoted by Senator Domenici so far successfully Construction on the first phase could begin at any time despite that fact that the House Appropriations Committee proposes to remove 100 million out of 112 million in next year s project funding calling the project irrational They argue that there is no current need to make pits in any quantity and they also argue that if the CMRR is built it might operate for only a few years before being superseded by the CNPC By the end of FY06 DOE NNSA will have spent about 2 5 billion on pit production at LANL alone With the CMRR and related expenses needed to rebuild PF 4 and other facilities sunk pit production costs at LANL would be least 5 billion by 2012 more than the estimated cost of the MPF A renewed PF 4 plus CMRR plus the other facilities needed would be in fact a kind of crazy quilt MPF with key facilities and systems not designed for production and already quite old when production would begin Why does NNSA want to make more pits The U S has about 23 000 pits of which about 10 000 are in weapons and roughly 13 000 are in storage at the Pantex Plant near Amarillo TX Nearly all the pits in the stockpile were made between 1978 and 1989 No one knows how long pits will ultimately last but weapons experts and congressional studies have said that pits will last at least 60 years No signs of degradation or any upper limit on working age have been found All deployed pits will thus last through 2038 at a minimum Through accelerated aging experiments NNSA is gathering an additional 14 16 years of pit longevity data each year raising serious questions about the rush to spend billions of dollars on a new pit production factory At LANL pit production is being established to build W88 pits an existing type used in warheads for Trident submarine missiles NNSA now plans to curtail W88 production in favor of a new type of pit called the Reliable Replacement Warhead RRW which is to be the prototype of a family of new and untested warheads meant to replace all existing U S warheads Despite occasional denials NNSA has stated that the evolving nuclear arsenal for which evolution RRW is to be the primary means will provide new military capabilities as well as foster a responsive production infrastructure NNSA hopes to begin trial production of RRW pits at

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/campaigns/PUPitProd.htm (2016-02-16)
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  • Los Alamos Study Group
    before see for example a key article by James Sterngold U S alters nuclear weapons policy Congress rejects bunker busters for more reliable arms San Francisco Chronicle 1 28 06 Prior to these recent admissions these goals can be found in a less explicit form in a variety of NNSA documents The clarity with which this sweeping ambition was expressed last week is new Hoffman s second scoop is this If manufactured the first RRW would replace two warheads on submarine launched missiles the W76 and W88 together the most numerous active weapons and the cornerstone of the U S nuclear force Mello This means that all the plutonium bomb core pit production preparation which has been underway at the Los Alamos National Laboratory LANL for many years and which also is now underway at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory LLNL will be redirected if all goes well to the RRW once the capability to manufacture pits is in place The goal of building remanufacturing capability for existing high yield Trident pits W88 pits is now morphing into manufacturing RRW pits LANL does not have the production capacity to build both RRW pits and W88 pits Inferences from internal documents have long pointed to a bait and switch strategy but until now we had no way to prove this Brooks statement means that the RRW program whatever else it may also be is a continuation of the Submarine Warhead Protection Program SWPP something long suspected by the Study Group but until now not proven An overview of the highly secretive SWPP program launched during the Clinton Administration by Admiral Pete Nanos later LANL s director and others can be found in the January February issue 2000 of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists here The Study Group which has been investigating LANL pit production program since its inception has added up the cost of the program Through FY2006 the LANL pit production program has cost about 2 5 B in 2006 dollars according to DOE budget requests compiled by the Study Group Complex wide pit production and certification programs have cost 3 5 B to date in 2006 dollars according to the DOE in the Study Group s accounting At LANL and elsewhere in addition to these sunk costs pit production is entailing new construction LANL s proposed Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement CMRR building to be built at LANL s TA 55 technical area in order to expand plutonium operations and storage for pit production is estimated to cost about 900 million This facility will not be usable however without a comparable investment in related LANL facilities which will be at or approaching the ends of their useful lives by the time the CMRR is completed Mello When future program and construction costs are added to these sunk costs it appears that NNSA will have spent at least 5 or 6 billion on pit manufacturing by the time RRW production is supposed to crank up in 2012 at LANL Of this

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2006/PressRelease02-06-06.htm (2016-02-16)
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  • DOE says alternate analysis of PF-4 seismic risks will be done in Dec, NWMM, 6 Sep 2013
    released by the Board this week Study to Have Significant Impact While the NNSA has suggested the facility meets guidelines for protecting the public from an exposure the Board said last year that the lab was not conservative enough in its calculations and that its own analysis revealed the potential exposure to be more than four times the 23 rem total effective dose equivalent estimated in the lab s analysis The ongoing review could have a significant impact on the future of the Plutonium Facility how much seismic strengthening is necessary and how much it might cost At issue is whether the facility might collapse in the event of a massive earthquake an issue that previous studies have ruled out but one about which the Board remains concerned That concern is centered on round columns that support the facility and informed by the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake that collapsed elevated highways in the San Francisco Bay Area In public comments at a Capitol Hill Club event this summer DNFSB member Jack Mansfield explained the Board s concerns The facility built in the late 1970s is brittle Mansfield said It was discovered after this facility was built that large buildings to be survivable in serious earthquakes have to have a bit of ductility It was also discovered after the Loma Prieta earthquake that round columns if accelerated up into the plywood they support crumble Those two vulnerabilities were identified early but they re not built into PF 4 He added The result is that there is a probability albeit small that the building could collapse with great loss of life within and with dispersal of plutonium Previous upgrades were based on calculations that did not fully characterize the problems facing the facility Mansfield said Those calculations were very good and did

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2013/NWMM_6Sep2013.html (2016-02-16)
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  • US has Pu options short of new facility build, CRS report says, NSDM, 7 Mar 2014
    among them Medalia suggested Congress should direct NNSA to conduct a number of studies that would better inform decisions One option to free up space at Los Alamos for pit work would be to move plutonium 238 work which is used for spacecraft batteries and other compact energy source needs to Idaho National Laboratory or the Savannah River Site Similarly some of the plutonium analytical chemistry work that would have been done in CMRR NF could instead be done in Lawrence Livermore s old Superblock complex or at Savannah River That would free up space in the lab s 1970s era Plutonium Facility known as PF 4 for pit work A Range of Options to Consider Medalia s report also examines the possibility of converting Los Alamos s new Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building RLUOB to a Hazard Category 3 facility to permit it to hold more plutonium Such a shift would be expensive and time consuming he notes But he also suggests some type of regulatory relief might make it possible to use RLUOB at lower cost Many regulations impose burdens on the nuclear weapons complex including plutonium facilities that to some analysts may seem disconnected from end goals such as reducing dose in the event of an accident to a level below a specified threshold Medalia wrote Critically such a move would in Medalia s words reduce cancellation risk He wrote The history of pit production efforts includes cases where decisions by Congress or the Administration have halted a major plutonium building after planning had started but before construction had begun Conducting pit production support tasks in a building that already exists would reduce this risk Another option would be to build a copy of RLUOB minus its office space to do the necessary analytical chemistry work Could

    Original URL path: http://lasg.org/press/2014/NSDM_7Mar2014.html (2016-02-16)
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