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NNSA manager optimistic about LANL budget

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By Tris DeRoma

National Nuclear Security Administration’s field office manager in Los Alamos Kim Davis Lebak talked with local leaders last week about next year’s budget, the status of the Los Alamos National Security contract, and various environmental and construction projects the NNSA will oversee.
Los Alamos National Laboratory could receive more money for its billion-dollar budget than last year’s budget, Lebak said.
President Barack Obama’s requested budget for LANL is $2.2 billion, compared to this year’s enacted budget of $1.95 billion.
“That a nice, strong hardy budget,” Lebak said. “Our friends in Congress are doing their work was we speak... it’s a good solid budget, it’s strong, and we have tons of scope to do.”
She also talked about the NNSA’s total budget, using numbers directly from president’s budget request to Congress.
For fiscal year 2017, President Obama requested $12.9 billion for the NNSA, which is $357 million more than the enacted budget of 2016.
The president has also requested $9.2 billion for weapons activities, which is $396 million above the fiscal year 2016’s enacted budget – a number the NNSA says will “sustain a credible and effective nuclear deterrent while continuing to reduce the size of the active stockpile.”
News is also expected “very soon” on the outcome of the new contract for the laboratory, which is expected to go out for bid some time after 2017, Lebak said.
Lebak also discussed many construction projects in progress on lab’s property, which included the Transuranic Waste Facility, which is expected to be finished this June, the TA-3 Substation Replacement Project, which will have a groundbreaking project today, with a completion date of 2018.
She also discussed the replacement of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement facility, which is expected to start in 2021 and is expected to be complete by 2024.
Work at TA-55 and the upgrade of the lab’s Radioactive Liquid Waste Treatment Facility is expected to start in 2017.
“If you look at all those projects over the next several years, NNSA is pumping a lot of money into the existing infrastructure and is trying to upgrade the existing facilities, and so there is lots of exciting construction going on right now,” Lebak said.
The total costs of all the projects combined is in the range of $1.8 billion to $2.4 billion.
Lebak also discussed the settlement reached with the NNSA, the New Mexico Environment Department and LANL over claims relating to a leaky barrel of radioactive waste found at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in Carlsbad in 2014. The barrel was packed and shipped from the lab.
For Los Alamos County, the settlement resulted in $32 million in federally-funded projects throughout the county, aimed at securing the region’s water supply and road system.
“Right now, we have integrated project teams working together to try and scope out the projects,” she said.
Lebak said the lab will continue to have a meaningful and strong presence in New Mexico.
“Our budget is looking very strong, NNSA is investing in the site,” she said. “The lab has been here over 70 years and the NNSA plans to continue that relationship with LANL in the future. We have so much scope packed in there for the next few years I’ve wondered how we’re going to ever get all this work done.”