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Los Alamos National Laboratory

  • Congress tries CPR on CMRR

    The Chemistry Metallurgy Research Replacement facility may be alive after all, but then again, maybe not.

    Legislators are almost finished debating the defense authorization bill for FY 2013 and the language in the bill would mandate that the federal government construct the controversial facility by 2026.

    The Obama administration and the National Nuclear Security Administration have deferred the project for five years.

    According to Global Security News Wire, the administration has argued that delaying construction of the new CMRR facility by five years would save money without harming nuclear-weapon readiness, but the plan has received mixed reviews on Capitol Hill.

    Some lawmakers sought to proceed on a schedule that would have construction completed by 2024, though a budget resolution Congress approved for the first half of the fiscal year that began on Oct. 1 included no funds for the project.

    On Tuesday, however, a conference committee established to resolve differences between the House and Senate versions of the fiscal 2013 defense authorization legislation released a bill that would establish a legal mandate that the CMRR building be up and running within 14 years.

  • Los Alamos National Lab, NNSA donate $3.1 million

    Los Alamos National Laboratory employees have again demonstrated concern for their communities and those in need by pledging a record $2.13 million to United Way and other eligible nonprofit programs.

    Los Alamos National Security, LLC, which manages and operates the Laboratory for the National Nuclear Security Administration, plans to prorate its $1 million match among the selected nonprofit organizations, bringing the total donation to $3.1 million.

    “I am again touched by the generosity of our employees,” said Los Alamos Director Charlie McMillan. “In a challenging year for the Laboratory, they have come through for Northern New Mexico. It speaks to their pride in where they work and live.”

    “I am truly impressed with the level of participation we achieved during this year’s employee giving campaign. The leadership and dedication across the lab in supporting the campaign along with all the special events, really made a difference,” said Paul Henry, Los Alamos’s principal associate director for Capital Projects and this year’s campaign champion.

    “The employees at the Lab should be very proud of the fact that we achieved 21 percent participation and raised more than $3.1 million.”

  • Research shows nuke weapon pits age gracefully

    New research uncovered by scientists at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory reveals that plutonium can age gracefully.

    A story by Arnie Heller in Science and Technology Review gives a synopsis of the history of the research.
    In 1997, the National Nuclear Security Administration launched a comprehensive study at Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos National Laboratories to examine in detail how plutonium pits age and provide a firmer scientific basis for estimating the service life of these critical weapons components.

    The study’s results, announced in late 2006, showed that the slow degradation of plutonium in U.S. nuclear weapons would not affect warhead reliability for decades.

    Independent research teams at the two laboratories performed extensive mechanical testing and laboratory-based experiments on aged samples of a plutonium-239 allo y—plutonium mixed with a small amount of gallium to stabilize the material in its delta phase at room temperature.

  • LANL hosts nuclear deterrence exercise

    U.S. and South Korean defense and diplomatic experts will conduct a tabletop exercise examining nuclear deterrence on the Korean Peninsula, a Pentagon official told reporters Wednesday.
    Los Alamos National Laboratory is playing host to 40 U.S. and South Korean officials for the extended exercise, which will look at deterrence methods in response to a nuclear threat scenario, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.
    Lab officials were unavailable for comment on how long the joint exercises will be taking place or who the representatives are from each participating country.
    This is the second exercise of its type. The first was at U.S. Strategic Command in 2011. It is conducted under the auspices of a bilateral committee formed in late 2010 to discuss alliance response in the event of a nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, Little said.
    Exercise participants will look at concepts, crisis decision-making and the requirements of employing extended deterrence assets in response to a nuclear threat scenario, he said.
    “The exercise demonstrates that extended deterrence for the ROK is credible, capable, and enduring, by fostering the joint study of deterrence challenges and by identifying opportunities for cooperation and collaboration,” Little said.

  • Lab names weapons program heads

    Bob Webster has been named associate director for Weapon Physics and John Benner has been named associate director for Weapon Engineering and Experiments. Both have been in their positions as acting associate directors since March 2012.
    As associate director for Weapon Physics, Webster has responsibility for weapon design and computational physics along with programmatic responsibility for the Advanced Simulation and Computing Program and Science Campaigns. The Directorate consists of Computational Physics and Theoretical Design Divisions.
    Webster has been at Los Alamos since 1988 and over the years has worked in a variety of applied physics organizations and on a broad spectrum of projects including the integrated weapons code “Antero” project, which he led. Webster was the science advisor to NNSA Defense Programs working on “complex transformation” and the nuclear posture review. As deputy X- Division leader he began the new Computational Physics Division with responsibility over development of integrated design codes. More recently Webster managed the Advanced Simulation and Computing program.
    Webster holds both master’s and doctorate degrees in nuclear engineering from Purdue University and master’s and bachelor’s degrees in electrical engineering from Case Western Reserve University.

  • LANL hosts U.S., South Korean deterrence exercise

    A joint exercise gets underway Thursday at Los Alamos National Laboratory which will look at various response scenarios to ongoing nuclear threats from North Korea.

    U.S. and South Korean defense and diplomatic experts will conduct a tabletop exercise examining nuclear deterrence on the Korean Peninsula, a Pentagon official told reporters Wednesday.

    LANL is playing host to 40 U.S. and South Korean officials for the extended exercise, which will look at deterrence methods in response to a nuclear threat scenario, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said.

    Lab officials were unavailable for comment on how long the joint exercises will be taking place or who the representatives are from each participating country.

    This is the second exercise of its type. The first was at U.S. Strategic Command in 2011. It is conducted under the auspices of a bilateral committee formed in late 2010 to discuss alliance response in the event of a nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, Little said.

    Exercise participants will look at concepts, crisis decision-making and the requirements of employing extended deterrence assets in response to a nuclear threat scenario, he said.

  • Regional Coalition launches website

    The Regional Coalition of LANL Communities announced that it has launched a new website at regionalcoalition.org.
    As part of the Regional Coalition’s goal to increase transparency, the website includes the latest information regarding Regional Coalition Board members, meeting notices and minutes and news related to the Regional Coalition.
    It also has a sign-up feature where community members can be added to the Regional Coalition’s information distribution list.
     “We are excited to launch the new website to ensure that our communities are informed and engaged with the work of the Coalition and look forward to continued community input and support as we move forward,” said Santa Fe Mayor David Coss, Chair of the Regional Coalition.
     The Regional Coalition’s Board of Directors includes one representative from eight local government jurisdictions surrounding the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

  • CWP meeting set for Wednesday

    Cold War Patriots, a non-profit organization, is hosting a town hall meeting to bring information to former Los Alamos National Lab workers. The meeting will be at 9 a.m. Wednesday at the Holiday Inn Express in Los Alamos.
    The Cold War Patriots town hall meeting will focus on discussing the expansion of the Special Exposure Cohort for all LANL workers. Those who worked at the site from 1975 through 1995 can now qualify for free medical benefits and up to $400,000 in compensation through the EEOICPA.
    Cold War Patriots will hold a plaque ceremony at the beginning of the meeting to honor and thank those who have aided in the passing of the SEC petition. Representatives from Sen. Tom Udall and Congressman Ben Ray Luján’s offices, as well as Andrew Evaskovich, who was the petitioner, will be present to accept these awards.

    From a press release

  • NNSA beats goal for nuke weapons dismantlement

    The National Nuclear Security Administration announced that it has accomplished 112 percent of its goal for planned stockpile dismantlement in FY 2012.
    “NNSA delivered on President Obama’s commitment to reduce the numbers of U.S. nuclear weapons declared excess to the stockpile and awaiting dismantlement. We exceeded our dismantlement goals for FY 2012 by a significant margin,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Don Cook.
    “Our stockpile today is smaller, but the deterrent remains just as safe, secure and effective as it was. Dismantlement of legacy weapons is a key part of the Nuclear Posture Review, going hand-in-hand with the safety and security improvements in our Life Extension Programs and critical to our long-term national security.”
    NNSA successfully dismantled a number of B61 and B83-0/1 bombs and W76-0, W80-0, W84 and W78 warheads.
    Taking apart nuclear weapons is a process that involves virtually all of NNSA’s sites within the nuclear security enterprise. NNSA’s design laboratories work with Pantex Plant to identify and mitigate hazards that may arise before a particular weapon type is dismantled. NNSA’s national laboratories then apply the knowledge they gained during the original design process to each weapon in the stockpile.

  • Administration vows to veto CMRR funding

    The White House released a statement of administrative policy regarding the National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2013.

    The administration made 18 objections to the defense bill proposed by the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Chemistry Metallurgy Research Replacement facility project is listed seventh on the list.

    The SASC, despite the administration decision to defer the LANL project for five years, put in $150 million in funding.

    The administration said it agrees with numerous provisions of the act, but if it makes its way to the president in its present form, the bill would get vetoed.

    The statement read: “the Administration strongly objects to section 3111, which would require construction of the CMRR facility to begin in 2013. The Departments of Defense and Energy agree that, in light of today’s fiscal environment, CMRR can be deferred for at least five years, and funds reallocated to support higher priority nuclear weapons goals.