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May 2012

NNSA BlogSome 345 tons of steel came tumbling down yesterday as a world record was set at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS), when a 1,527-foot steel tower used in above-ground nuclear experiments in the 1960s was demolished.

The BREN (Bare Reactor Experiment -- Nevada) Tower was the tallest structure of its kind ever to be brought down. The tower was taller than the Empire State Building (1,454 feet, to the top of lightening rod) and taller than the Stratosphere Tower in Las Vegas (1,148 feet). 

The tower was brought down due to safety concerns for personnel working nearby and risk to aircraft flying in the area. Contributing factors included lack of use, maintenance issues, and an uneconomical cost of more than $1 million that would have been required return the tower to a usable state.

DEMCO, Inc. of West Seneca, N.Y., partnered with Controlled Demolition, Inc. of Phoenix, Md., to bring down the tower. Because the tower was so tall, highly controlled demolition techniques were employed. Explosives were used to remove a small section of one leg of the tower at ground level and sever the tensioned guy wires and the anchor/stanchions on the opposite side.

See video here.  

NNSA BlogJohn Mitsunaga from NNSA's Los Alamos Site Office (LASO) has been named as a New Mexico Federal Employee of the Year by the New Mexico Federal Executive Board. His award is listed in the Professional, Administrative and Technical category.

Mitsunaga, a physical security specialist for LASO, also has a federal role in the lab’s Emergency Operations Center where he ensures the security and protection of sensitive assets on lab property.

Additional accomplishments for which Mitsunaga was recognized include oversight for technical security requirements for a sizable construction project that will provide state of the art security protection for the lab’s plutonium facility. He was also instrumental in obtaining funding to modernize protective force training facilities necessary to enable them to protect special nuclear material. The funding included construction of indoor and outdoor shooting ranges, a tactical training facility and a fitness track.

Chu tools

NNSA has approved a special tooling system designed to improve the processing time of the B83. The tools were created by NNSA’s Pantex Plant and announced last fall. See press release here.

The tooling system for the B83 program is now part of NNSA’s Seamless Safety for the 21st Century (SS-21) process. The SS-21 process fully integrates the weapon system with the facility, tooling, operating procedures and personnel involved in the dismantlement program to form a safe, efficient and effective operating environment. The SS-21 process has been incorporated into all current Pantex weapon programs.

Approval for the special tooling system took a few months longer than originally expected because of the rigorous approval process. Final tools were delivered and the Hazard Analysis Report was published and approved by Pantex Site Office. In addition, the Nuclear Explosive Safety Study was conducted with no pre-start findings.

The goal of the project was to streamline the B83 disassembly and inspection and dismantlement processes. The new tooling process is designed to have multi–purpose functions, which includes the ability to support future B83 assembly operations.

The tooling system supports a safe, secure and effective strategic deterrent and is being used to support stockpile surveillance and dismantlement work. The new tooling system will be used to support the upcoming concurrent retrofit of the Gas Transfer System and Neutron Generators (ALT 353/753 respectively), scheduled for first production to occur in July 2014.

The B83 program team includes members from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Pantex Plant and Sandia National Laboratories.

About the photo:

U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Steven Chu last year got an overview of the B83 tooling system from Steve Erhart, NNSA Production Office Manager.

Anton Tran

Anton Tran, from NNSA’s Office of Nuclear Weapon Surety and Quality, has received this year's General Charles A. Horner Award from the Air War College. Tran received the honor for his paper, titled "An American Vital Interest: Preserving the Nuclear Enterprise Supplier Base.” The paper studies the impact of an eroding supplier base on the nuclear security enterprise's ability to adequately sustain the nuclear weapon stockpile, upon which the United States national security strategy and defense posture rely. The paper identifies current supplier base challenges, evaluates case studies from other industries, explores and examines potential solutions and offers recommendations.

The General Charles A. Horner Award is presented by the Air Force Counterproliferation Center each year to an Air War College student for the best study of an issue of most immediate and important utility to the US counterproliferation program.

Following his graduation from Air War College on May 28, 2012, Tran will return to Albuquerque, N.M., and be reassigned to NNSA’s Office of Nuclear Weapon Stockpile.