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April 2012


“Discovery and Innovation for National Security” is the theme of the fifth annual NNSA Laboratory Directed Research and Development (LDRD) Symposium set for June 12 at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS Center) in Washington, D.C.

The symposium will feature highlights of game-changing, mission-relevant research supported by the LDRD Program from throughout the enterprise. Emphasis will be on scientific discovery and technological innovation that benefits DOE and NNSA missions of national security. Technical topics will include adiabatic quantum architectures; sensing and modeling for national security; uncertainty quantification for science-based stockpile stewardship; and optical velocimetry for nuclear security.

The symposium features LDRD technology advancements from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories. It also includes research, development, and demonstration projects from the Site Directed Research and Development Program at Nevada National Security Site, and from the Plant Directed Research and Development Program at the NNSA plants. NNSA researchers will provide briefings and a poster session at noon.

Dr. Victor Reis, Senior Advisor in the Office of the Secretary, will lead a panel discussion on discovery and innovation issues for national security. Keynote presenters will include Neile L. Miller, NNSA Principal Deputy Administrator; Charles V. Shank, Senior Fellow, Janelia Farm Research Campus, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Former Director, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; Norman R. Augustine, retired Chairman & CEO, Lockheed Martin Corporation; and Thomas A. Kalil, Deputy Director for Policy, White House Office of Science & Technology Policy.

Click here for more information.  

MOX Conservation GardenA conservation garden that features a rare, endangered plant native to the Savannah River Site (SRS) was dedicated today at the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility in celebration of Earth Day last week. The MOX Conservation Garden is located at the entrance of the MOX project’s administration building and was established to promote the preservation and awareness of a federally endangered plant species, the smooth purple coneflower.  The MOX administrative building, where the conservation garden is located, is certified as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold building.  The building is the first at SRS to be LEED Gold Certified. Two additional buildings of the MOX project will pursue certification.  

Other SRS plant species in the conservation garden include scaly blazing star, sky-blue lupine and beargrass.  Another unique feature of the garden are the stone that were created from cobblestones collected near the MOX construction site that were deposited by high-energy rivers more than 10 million years ago.






Nearly 100 sons and daughters of DOE and NNSA employees participated in today's "Bring our Daughters and Sons to Work" day. The event is geared for children to see what their parents do when at work, and it is also is intended to start a conversation about his or her own future. This year, the foundation that created this event is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Several activities planned for the DOE event include face painting, fitness activities, educational programs include a health and nutrition talk and a presentation on solar energy.

PNNL/Dep Sec

The Physical Sciences Facility Project, funded in part by NNSA, recently received the DOE Secretary’s Award of Excellence in Project Management. Deputy Energy Secretary Daniel Poneman presented the award to DOE’s Pacific Northwest Site Office and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL).  Deputy Secretary Poneman stands at left in the photo, next to DOE’s Chad Henderson, PNNL’s Jeff Pittman, and DOE officials Marcus Jones, Daniel Lehman and Ingrid Kolb.

The seven-year, $224 million project was co-funded by NNSA and other federal agencies.  It was managed by an integrated team consisting of the DOE’s Office of Science, the NNSA, the Department of Homeland Security, and PNNL.

The 200,000-square-foot complex houses unique, state-of-the-art equipment to support national and homeland security and energy research missions, particularly the development and advancement of radiation detection technologies. Scientists use the Radiation Detection and Ultra-Trace laboratories to help identify weapons of mass destruction and terrorist activities. The Large Detector Laboratory and accompanying Test Track are used to develop and test radiation detection technologies for deployment.  Entrenched 40 feet below ground is the Underground Lab, which supports homeland and national security missions in radiation detection. The complex also includes a Materials Science & Technology Laboratory to develop and test high-performance materials used in future energy, construction, and transportation technologies and systems. 

The facility project, which was completed ahead of schedule and within budget, allowed for a smooth transition of a large group of PNNL researchers and equipment to new facilities while minimizing impacts to mission-critical research. 

DOE gives the award annually to management teams that have demonstrated exceptional results in completing a project within cost and schedule.

Perkins Award
For the second year in a row, B&W Pantex has been selected as the recipient of a prestigious national award from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), winning the 2012 Frances Perkins Vanguard Award in recognition of its work with women-owned small businesses.

Last year, Pantex won the Dwight D. Eisenhower Award for excellence in utilization of small businesses.

“To be honored two years in a row by the SBA is a tremendous accomplishment,” said B&W Pantex General Manager John Woolery. “These awards validate our commitment to financial stewardship and to the support of small businesses throughout the local area.”

Pantex officials announced the award win at Corporate Technology Group (CTG), one of the women-owned small businesses Pantex works with in Amarillo, Texas. CTG was founded in Amarillo in 1981 as a computer and information technology service company. It now has offices in Amarillo and Arlington, Texas, and employs about 20 people.

The Perkins award was created in 1963 and is named after Frances Perkins, the U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Secretary Perkins was the first woman appointed to head a U.S. Cabinet post.

B&W Pantex consistently exceeds goals for direction of contracting work to businesses owned by disadvantaged groups. In fiscal year 2011, Pantex spent $19,897,945 with women-owned small businesses, a total of 17.8 percent of the $112 million in subcontracting dollars spent that year, nearly double the performance goal of 9 percent set by the Department of Energy.

About the photo:

Mark A. Padilla, second from right, assistant manager of contract administration and business management with the Pantex Site Office, talks with Corporate Technology Group (CTG) Executive Vice President Roxanne Hudson and B&W Pantex General Manager John Woolery at the CTG offices. Pantex officials were on hand at CTG to announce Pantex had received the 2012 Frances Perkins Vanguard Award from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for excellence in utilization of women-owned small businesses. This is the second year in a row that Pantex has been honored with a national award from the SBA for its support of small businesses. CTG, an Amarillo-based woman-owned small business, has been working with Pantex for more than two decades as a subcontractor.

The five people in the other photo are, from left: Brad Brack, small business program manager at Pantex, Woolery, Hudson, Padilla, and Mike Tryon, division manager for supply chain management at Pantex.

The Department of Energy–Savannah River (DOE-SR) and WSI-SRS, the security contractor at the Savannah River Site (SRS), are hosting the Security Protection Officer Team Competition (SPOTC) at SRS this week. The 2012 Carolina Challenge at SRS marks the 40th anniversary of SPOTC.

A tactical, skills-oriented firearms competition, SPOTC is open to teams of protective force officers within the DOE Complex. In addition, U.S. law enforcement and international competitors will participate. Sixteen teams will compete with local teams that include; WSI-SRS, Aiken Department of Public Safety, and Columbia County Sheriff's Department.

Teams test the skills developed to protect National assets in the event of a real-world crisis. To negotiate the various courses of fire, teams have to demonstrate a wide range of skills under the mental and physical stress of competition, to include: maneuvering safely through obstacles; shooting from unconventional firing positions; and rescuing downed officers.


B&W Pantex hosted its annual car race this weekend as part of the National Science Bowl competition. More than 15 teams of middle school students from across the Texas Panhandle gathered to race cars powered by a lithium ion battery down a 20-meter track. A bottle of water attached to the cars provided weight and increased the challenge of extracting speed from the cars.

The DOE provided kits the students used to build their cars over the past month. Battery-powered cars were selected this year to honor President Obama’s goal of putting one million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

Panhandle White took first place, while the Silver Team from Bovina, Texas, came in second. Third place went to the Gold Team from Panhandle, Texas.

Pantex employees help to plant a tree during the Regeneration 2012 event that was part of the Earth Day commemoration in Amarillo this weekend. Pantexans assisted in the event, where more than 250 trees were planted, along with landscaping and cleaning efforts at Amarillo's Thompson Park.

Health Physics CoverDan Blumenthal, NNSA Consequence Management program manager, and Steve Musolino, Brookhaven National Laboratory health physicist, have contributed as special editors of the May 2012 issue of Health Physics, the journal of the Health Physics Society. The special issue of the journal is devoted to the overview of U.S. radiological response to the Fukushima accident, both in Japan and in the U.S. The issue highlights an overview of DOE/NNSA's response: modeling; aerial and ground surveys; home team challenges; and the range of data assessment and products.

The issue contains 15 articles and commentaries, nine of which come from DOE/NNSA (two from NNSA and seven from NNSA national laboratories), two from DoD, one from EPA, two from HHS, and one from the states giving their perspective.

To see the journal, click here.



The lead that flies at the Pantex Firing Range has to land somewhere, and when it does, it could create a potential contamination hazard. That’s why a group of Pantexans got together to find a better way, and created a program that shows how Pantex goes the extra mile to protect the environment.

The project to “green” the firing range had two components encompassing both indoor and outdoor firing ranges, which are used to train Security Police Officers (SPOs) in the use of firearms. The effort reduced by tons the amount of hazardous waste generated during normal operations of the ranges.

“At Pantex, we are continually looking for ways to accomplish our mission while minimizing the impact on the environment,” said B&W Pantex General Manager John Woolery.

The indoor range was annually generating approximately 2,400 pounds of lead-contaminated waste through the use of lead bullets. Although much of the lead was recycled, about 1,100 pounds of lead-contaminated air filters and sludge were not recyclable and had to be disposed of as hazardous waste. Additionally, lead dust released when the bullets struck targets created an airborne hazard for the SPOs.

To correct the issue, Pantex switched to a new bullet trap, abated lead in the range building and changed over to non-lead ammunition. The indoor rounds, which are generally made from compressed copper or zinc, are frangible, meaning they break into pieces upon impact and don’t create an airborne dust hazard like a conventional lead bullet.

The amount of lead waste generated by the indoor range is dwarfed by the amount of lead that lands in the outdoor ranges. Outdoor ranges at Pantex are backed by earthen berms that are covered by a layer of dolomite, a mineral that is used to trap bullets that pass through targets and strike the berms. When the dolomite layer becomes packed with lead over many years of use, it creates a ricochet hazard and must be replaced.

Normally, the nearly 1,500 tons of lead-saturated dolomite would have been sent to a hazardous waste landfill, but the team decided it would be much more environmentally sound if only the lead was sent to the landfill. The team found a contractor who could sift the lead out from the dolomite, and the material was reused to cover the berms.

As a result, only 24 tons of lead contaminated waste was generated and disposed, and 1,440 tons of dolomite was diverted from the landfill and beneficially reused. Although the environmental aspect of the project was the main attraction, the recycling effort also saved money, reducing the shipping and disposal costs by more than $400,000.

“We feel like the firing range project was a win-win for everyone,” said Bill Mairson, manager of the Environmental Safety and Health Division at Pantex. “Not only did we protect the environment from tons of lead contamination, we protected our personnel from an airborne lead hazard, and we saved taxpayer money in the process.”