Plan B would require $800M

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CMRR: Details still are being ironed out

By The Staff

A little more information has trickled out concerning the Los Alamos National Security LLC’s proposal for plutonium sustainment without the help of a new Chemistry Metallurgy Research Replacement facility.

This is better known as Plan B when it comes to the CMRR project.

NNSA and the Obama administration have made it known they want to defer the project for five years and the House and Senate appropriators on the Energy and Water committees agreed, zeroing out funding for the project.
Defense committees, though, have pushed funding for the project in their budget proposals.

It’s likely nothing will be decided until after the election and if that is the case the lab will continue to run on a Continuing Resoluation.

In the meantime, NNSA and lab officials are ironing out details for Plan B as part of its plutonium strategy.

“The revised plutonium strategy will utilize existing facilities at multiple sites,” NNSA spokesman Josh McConaha said in a statement. “It is likely, but not certain, that we will use Superblock at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Device Assembly Facility in Nevada and the new Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building at Los Alamos National Laboratory. However, nothing has been settled and we are working to finalize the details at this point.”

According to lab documents, which were released in June, LANL would require $800 million to upgrade facilities to do the nuclear weapons work. The result of the study was that LANL, as it is presently configured, cannot support a 20 to 30 pit per year production rate. In addition, it would take 10 years to finish the upgrades. And before the upgrades could even begin, it would take 18 to 24 months to get through the planning stages, the documents stated.

The proposal, which was unveiled in Washington in June, indicated that work would be done in an existing lab and then ship plutonium to Livermore where it will be chemically analyzed.

Also in the plan is the construction of a $120 million tunnel where lab workers could safely move plutonium from building to building.

Another big player in the plan will be the use of the brand-new Radiological Laboratory Utility Office Building, which was opened earlier this year. The plan, though, indicated that the RLUOB would require $200 million in upgrades so they can deal with the greater quantities of plutonium.

One of the briefings also indicated that the CMRR-NF’s design would be finished in 2012 and the project team would be drawn down to zero. With the $275 million it has in funding for the project, there would be $120 million available after the project is suspended.

The documents state that $65 million was used for project funding from October 2011 to Feb. 2012, another $40 million for RLUOB equipment installation and another $50 million to complete the design for the nuclear facility.