Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
Heinrich grills NNSA deputy nominee over pit program

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) grilled the nominee for principal deputy national security administrator last week about the plutonium pit program during senate Armed Services committee nomination hearing.

Heinrich asked Nominee William Bookless during the Nov. 29 hearing about why the NNSA felt it needed redundancy in Department of Energy’s plutonium pit manufacturing program but not in other parts of the mission that contribute to the maintenance of the nation’s nuclear stockpile.

The NNSA recently announced its plan to split the manufacturing work between the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

Heinrich has spoken out against splitting the program, saying the manufacturing of all 80 pits per year should be done at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The sites are on track to manufacture 80 plutonium pits starting in 2030. LANL is expected to ramp up to 30 pits per year by 2030.

Heinrich asked Bookless about why they aren’t duplicating the highly-enriched uranium facilities at Y-12 in Tennessee the Pantex facility in Texas where high explosives are manufactured, or the tritium facility at Savannah River Site.

Bookless replied that for the most part, they don’t have a reason to.