NNSA heralds milestones

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As 2013 begins, the National Nuclear Security Administration has compiled a list of some of its accomplishments and improvements from 2012.. 

The NNSA, in conjunction with its Management and Operating contractor partners, reached significant milestones in its nonproliferation and counterterrorism portfolios, made a host of achievements through its work with the United States’ nuclear weapons stockpile, and maintained a focus on continuous improvement.

“We had our share of challenges in 2012, but we have much to be proud of,” said outgoing NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino. “Our people, both our federal staff and our contractor partners, have done great work executing our mission and improving the way we do business. From our work on the stockpile to our nonproliferation efforts to our contracting strategies, we had a very good year. There is always room to get better, and we are focused on improving everywhere, from security to project management. We see 2013 as full of great things, and we’re excited for what’s to come.”

Even when NNSA stumbled, officials said, setbacks were met with swift, corrective action and a focus on improvement.

 A few of the highlights:

• Cooperative efforts to prevent terrorists or rogue states from obtaining highly enriched uranium led to NNSA’s 50th HEU recovery to date. The Global Threat Reduction Initiative efforts have secured more than 1,900 kilograms of Russian-origin HEU, enough for more than 75 nuclear weapons and is on pace to meet President Obama’s goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear material within four years. 

• In the event that terrorists were able to obtain radiological materials and attempt to use them in an attack, NNSA has worked with federal, state and local officials across the country through a series of tabletop exercises that strengthen first responders’ and law enforcement officials’ ability to detect, deter and prevent a terrorist incident from occurring, as well as emphasize efforts to respond to, mitigate and recover from the effects of such an event. NNSA’s 100th exercise of its kind was conducted in August.

• Because of the ongoing efforts on the Stockpile Stewardship Program, the United States marked 20 years since its last underground explosive nuclear test. As part of the SSP, NNSA conducted a successful experiment at the Nevada National Security Site that yielded more data than all previous experiments combined.

• Data from SSP experiments will be used in conjunction with NNSA’s supercomputing capabilities, which achieved world-record status over the summer. In June, NNSA’s Sequoia, housed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, surpassed 16 petaflops, making it the world’s fastest. 

• NNSA continued to execute the W76-1 warhead life extension program, successfully delivering 100 percent of scheduled units to the Navy in 2012 and staying on track to complete production before the end of 2021. 

• As part of President Obama’s commitment to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world, NNSA reached 112 percent of its dismantlement goal for FY12, permanently eliminating more unneeded nuclear weapons from the American stockpile than planned. 

• At the Savannah River Site, the NNSA continued more than half a century of successfully delivering reservoirs and other components to military customers while maintaining a focus on safety and security. In 2012, NNSA surpassed a major safety milestone: three million safe work hours; the last injury resulting in time away from work was more than four years ago.

• For the second straight year, all of the projects NNSA completed in FY12 were on or under budget, including the Sanitary Effluent Reclamation Facility and the demolition of Building South Mesa 43 at Los Alamos National Laboratory. In addition, several ongoing projects continued to perform on budget and schedule, including the High Explosive Pressing Facility and High Pressure Fire Loop at Pantex, the Test Capabilities Revitalization Phase II at Sandia National Laboratories (Sandia) and equipment installation for the Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building at LANL.

• At LLNL, the last of Security Category I/II material was successfully removed, resulting in an annual cost savings for taxpayers of approximately $40 million. The project was completed a month ahead of schedule.

• In an effort to protect taxpayer dollars and accomplish its mission in a time of fiscal constraint, NNSA saved more than $519 million through strategic sourcing in FY12. The Supply Chain Management Center has allowed NNSA’s sites to work together to buy strategically and save money. 

• In Kansas City, NNSA signed the lease on its new LEED-certified National Security Campus, which was completed on-time and on-budget. The new facility will cut energy consumption by 50 percent and save $100 million annually in operating costs. The Kansas City Plant is now prepared to execute the largest industrial move in the United States while maintaining continuous operations and product delivery over the coming 19-month move.

• At the Y-12 National Security Complex and Pantex Plant, NNSA staff have prepared for a future-shaping contract award by combining and streamlining federal production operations. The new NNSA Production Office aligns NNSA’s oversight at Y-12 and Pantex while saving money and integrating operations. The new combined management and operating contract, which is soon to be awarded, will help NNSA save hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars in the years to come. 

• At NNSA’s three laboratories — LLNL, LANL and Sandia — innovation continued to impress the world’s scientific communities. NNSA’s labs and production sites received 12 of R&D Magazine’s 2012 R&D 100 awards, which are considered the “Oscars of Innovation.” 

 • After helping the Japanese people cope with the devastating tsunami and resulting nuclear crisis in 2011, NNSA took the lessons learned and applied them to improve our radiological forecasting capabilities. By sponsoring the installation of a new 336-processor computing cluster at NNSA’s National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center, consequence predictions for hazardous materials release can be completed approximately 50 times faster than before).