Skip to main content

You are here

November 2011

NNSA recently announced that it successfully conducted the second seismic Source Physics Experiment (SPE-2) at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). This seismic SPE experiment is the second part of a series of eight underground, fully-coupled, high-explosive field tests. 

The series represents a long-term NNSA research and development effort that aims at improving arms control and nonproliferation treaty verification; the experiment’s findings are intended to advance the United States’ ability to detect and discriminate “low-yield” nuclear explosions amid the clutter of conventional explosions and small earthquake signals.

SPE-2 included detonating a chemical explosive equivalent to 2,200 pounds of TNT in a contained, confined environment 150 feet below ground. Information gathered from this experiment includes high-resolution accelerometer, infrasound, seismic, explosive performance, and radio frequency data. This data will advance current, state-of-the-art strong ground motion and seismic wave propagation models and algorithms toward a predictive capability.

“These seismic Source Physics Experiments are significant achievements in the United States’ efforts to develop, validate and improve on emerging technology that will be used to assure compliance with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, Anne Harrington, “The work conducted at the NNSS and by the NNSA’s Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation programs serves to advance the implementation of President Obama’s nuclear nonproliferation agenda.”

The NNSA national laboratories have already used the data from SPE-1, executed on May 3, 2011, to refine and improve geophysical models and to make pre-shot predictions for SPE-2. The results of SPE-2 and all further experiments will continue to advance the national nuclear security strategy, across the whole of government. The Source Physics Experiments represent a U.S.-interagency wide endeavor, with NNSS, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and the Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency all serving as partners in SPE-2. Each entity brings their expertise and resources to the experiment and all will share in the data obtained, saving the U.S. taxpayers the expense of conducting separate experiments for the various scientific disciplines that require these data.

Los Alamos National Laboratory has completed demolition of its former Administration Building. Demolition of the 316,500-square-foot building that was home to seven laboratory directors was completed five months ahead of the original schedule and significantly under budget.

“After we removed all regulated, hazardous materials such as asbestos, our team was able to recycle about 95 percent of the building,” said Darrik Stafford, LANL’s project director for the demolition.

“At more than 300,000 square feet, this was a sizable undertaking,” added John Gallegos of the NNSA’s Los Alamos Site Office. “I am pleased with the results of this project.”

ARSEC Environmental, LLC was the general contractor for the demolition of the structure—four stories plus a basement—which opened in 1956 and closed in September 2008. Norris Bradbury was the first Lab director to occupy the building. Bradbury followed J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Lab’s first director. Bradbury was director from 1945 to 1970.

Project activities started in April 2009. LANL moved its administrative functions and lab directors in 2006 to the National Security Sciences Building, immediately northwest of the former facility.

Demolition of the former Administration Building also helps Los Alamos meet an NNSA directive to reduce its structural footprint, modernize its infrastructure, and provide LANL workers with safe, energy-efficient facilities. Between 2010 and 2014, LANL anticipates removing nearly 1 million square feet (including the Administration Building) as part of its footprint reduction strategy.

The site of the former Administration Building, in the short term, will become an open area to include sidewalks, low-maintenance landscaping, and parking for about 140 vehicles. Longer term, land also will be available for construction of facilities.