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As 2014 begins, the National Nuclear Security Administration last week released a list of some of its most important accomplishments and improvements over 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 (GAO) 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 ten million dollars 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., 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.
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.
NNSA’s three laboratories along with the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tenn., 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.
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 (LEP).
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.
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.