The Government Accountability Office’s latest report, which was released two weeks ago, urges the National Nuclear Security Administration to think long-term when it comes to a plutonium strategy.
In 2012, the Los Alamos National Laboratory submitted a report, which analyzed its plutonium options after NNSA deferred the Chemistry Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility for at least five years last year.
According to the study, these options include relocating analytical chemistry and materials characterization capabilities among facilities at LANL, moving some capabilities to facilities at other sites, or some combination of the two.
The GAO report indicated that the lab has put the potential cost to move plutonium capabilities between $480 million 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.
“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.”