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August 2012

Jim Haynes displays the congratulatory plaque given to Y-12 Construction

A celebration was held yesterday to mark the safety milestone of Y-12’s Direct-Hire Construction team for working one million hours, covering a 633-day period, without a lost-time injury. Some 285 people including building trade crafts, non-manual staff and escorts worked without a lost-time accident during this period. The Construction team’s last lost workday was in September 2010.

Y‑12 Direct-Hire Construction craft worked on more than 125 projects and supported another 35 subcontracted projects important to the Y‑12 mission.

Read about the one million-hour milestone.

About the photos:
Jim Haynes, B&W Y-12 senior vice president and deputy general manager for projects, displays the congratulatory plaque given to Y-12 Construction and the Knoxville Building and Construction Trades Council for accomplishing 1 million safe man-hours.

This week, a NNSA helicopter has been flying at a low-level altitude over portions of California's Bay Area. The helicopter crew has been taking measurements of naturally-occurring background radiation. The survey is expected to be completed on Saturday, Sept. 1.

The flyovers are a part of a joint research project between NNSA and the Department of Homeland Security’s Domestic Nuclear Detection Office. NNSA’s twin-engine Bell 412 helicopter is operated by the Remote Sensing Laboratory Aerial Measuring System in Las Vegas, Nev.

Photo by Victor Negut, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative holds a Feds Feeds Family face-off

In support of DOE/NNSA’s efforts to support the Office of Personnel Management’s (OPM) Feds Feed Families campaign to collect non-perishable food items for food banks across the country, NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) holds a Feds Feed Families face-off. The face-off is a friendly intra-office competition to see who between the three GTRI program offices can bring in the most donations for local families in need. This year, GTRI’s Office of European and African Threat Reduction won the face-off with a donation of 416.5 pounds of food. Most importantly, GTRI as a whole shattered its goal of 700 pounds, donating 1115.6 pounds of food to Washington, D.C., area food banks.

About the photo:
GTRI’s Office of European and African Threat Reduction won this year’s Feds Feed Families face-off.

Project Manager Janice Clark gives a safety briefing.

NNSA’s Pantex Plant took a significant step toward energy modernization last week by installing new metering technology at its steam plant.

Electric and gas meters were installed on the steam plant’s utilities to provide detailed data on energy usage, which will then provide the information needed to reduce energy intensity.

Pantex has been aggressively executing the metering plan along with dozens of other energy and environmental initiatives, establishing itself as a leader within the nuclear security enterprise.

Read more about Pantex’s new meters.

About the photo:
Project Manager Janice Clark, right, points out potential hazards during a safety briefing prior to the installation of electric and gas meters at the Pantex Steam Plant. Workers installed the “smart meters” in the steam plant, which uses over half the energy consumed on the site, as part of an effort to better track and control energy usage.

NGFP Alum Sean Dunlop

The Nonproliferation Graduate Fellowship Program (NGFP) was established to attract young, talented professionals with an interest in nonproliferation to support NNSA’s Office of Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. Offering hands-on experience, a full-time salary for a year, and career development opportunities, the program is highly competitive. More than 160 qualified, advanced-degree students applied for 24 slots last year. After an intensive orientation at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and NNSA headquarters in Washington, D.C., Fellows hit the ground running in a fast-paced work environment.

A guiding principle for NGFP is that future policymakers at NNSA must be able to merge technical competence with political acumen to be successful; the program strives to attract applicants with both skill sets. For example, after receiving her Master’s in International Affairs from the Georgia Institute of Technology, Emily Diez was able to directly apply her education to benefit national security. She currently works for the NNSA Office of Nonproliferation and International Security (NIS) International Nonproliferation Export Control Program, which provides outreach designed to help other governments identify and seize commodities usable for weapons of mass destruction. Emily now manages an ongoing effort to provide advanced analytical tools and training to border security officials that enhances their ability to intercept sensitive commodities. Like many NGFP Fellows, she found the program very beneficial. She says, “The experience has been truly rewarding—you can immediately see the results of your work and know it made a difference.”

Many NGFP alumni continue to work at NNSA after their fellowships are over. Sean Dunlop (shown in photo), from the class of 2010, began his fellowship after graduating from the Monterey Institute of International Studies and working as a research associate at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies. During his fellowship, Sean worked with retired military officials and next-generation scholars from South Asia and the Middle East to facilitate regional security confidence-building measures. Then Sean was able to step easily into a planning role for high-profile international events like the International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference and the Nuclear Security Summit. He comments, “It feels like everything I learned during the NGFP fellowship has been a natural progression towards the work I’m doing today—it was a great experience.” Sean now works as the Action Officer within NIS’s Front Office, organizing activities to support NIS programs and interfacing with other elements of the federal government.

Building successful leaders like Emily and Sean is so important that NNSA is increasing NGFP’s impact even more. Starting next year, NGFP will combine with the former Future Leaders Program to create the NNSA Graduate Program, which will nearly double the number of positions and serve the entire NNSA enterprise, supporting the nuclear security mission. The combined program is accepting applications through October 22, 2012. Learn more and apply at

NNSA, in collaboration with the U.S. Air Force Global Strike Command, recently conducted successful surveillance flight tests using a Joint Test Assembly (JTA) of the B61 Mod 7 (B61-7), B61 Mod 11 (B61-11), and the B83 strategic bombs.

“The recent JTA tests demonstrate NNSA’s commitment to ensuring that all weapon systems perform as planned and that systems are safe, secure and effective,” said Brig. Gen. Sandra Finan, NNSA Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Military Application. “The strong partnership between NNSA and Department of Defense is a vital part of our commitment to national security.”

A JTA contains instrumentation and sensors that monitor the performance of numerous weapon components during the flight test to determine if the weapon functions as designed. This JTA also included a flight recorder that stored the bomb performance data for the entire test. NNSA uses the data in a model, developed by Sandia National Laboratories, to evaluate the reliability of the bomb.

The NNSA-designed and built JTAs support the Joint Surveillance Flight Test Program between the Department of Defense and the NNSA to simulate the actual weapon configurations utilizing as much war reserve hardware as feasible. The JTAs are designed by Sandia National Laboratories/California. The JTA test components are manufactured at the Kansas City Plant are then assembled at the Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas. The NNSA Tonopah Nevada Test Range, where the tests were conducted, is managed by Sandia. JTAs are not capable of nuclear yield, as they contained no nuclear materials.

A B-2A Spirit stealth bomber from the 509th Bomber Wing, operating out of Whiteman Air Force Base, delivered and released the B61-7, B61-11 and B83 JTAs at the NNSA’s Tonopah Test Range in Nevada.

A SERF-E operator places a microfilter into operation at the facility.

Cutting the ribbon on the expansion of the SERF.

In an effort to process, treat and recycle up to 300,000 gallons of wastewater per day, Los Alamos National Laboratory launched operations at the new expansion of the Sanitary Effluent Reclamation Facility (SERF-E) with a ribbon cutting ceremony earlier this month.

Each year, LANL produces more than a hundred million gallons of effluent from LANL's sanitary wastewater treatment plant. Instead of being discharged into the environment, the plant pipes the water to the SERF, which treats and reuses it in cooling towers to cool the Strategic Computing Complex.

The facility originally was designed to help LANL meet strict Environmental Protection Agency limits on polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) discharge in wastewater and reduce the Laboratory’s use of potable (drinkable) water.

Dino Herrera, the Deputy Associate Deputy Administrator for Infrastructure and Construction, oversaw the project and complimented the team that planned and constructed the facility.

“The SERF-E project went from start to finish in four years,” he said. “This is a model for how line-item projects should function, and I applaud the project team for such a great effort.”

About the photos:

A SERF-E operator places a microfilter into operation at the facility.

Cutting the ribbon on the expansion of the SERF marked the official start of the facility’s expanded operations.  The SERF-E can now treat and recycle up to 300,000 gallons of wastewater each day.


NASA's Mars rover Curiosity fired its laser for the first time this weekend on Mars, using the beam from a science instrument to interrogate a fist-size rock.

The mission's ChemCam, designed and built at Los Alamos National Laboratory, hit the fist-sized rock with 30 pulses of its laser during a 10-second period. Each pulse delivers more than a million watts of power for about five one-billionths of a second.

About the photo:
This composite image, with magnified insets, depicts the first laser test by the Chemistry and Camera, or ChemCam, instrument aboard NASA's Curiosity Mars rover. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/LANL/CNES/IRAP

Read more about laser test.
ChemCam fact sheet.
See LANL photos.

More than 357 pounds of food was collected by staff in NNSA's Office of Emergency Operations as part of the 2012 Feds Feed Families campaign. NNSA will continue to host a variety of activities this month to collect food for the campaign. The DOE-wide goal for campaign is to collect 230,000 pounds of non-perishable food items. These items will be donated to local food banks in the D.C. area.

Feds Feed Families

Sandia researchers have developed a cost-effective robotic hand that can be used in disarming improvised explosive devices, or IEDs.

Funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Sandia Hand project is modular, so different types of fingers can be attached with magnets and quickly plugged into the hand frame. The operator has the flexibility to quickly and easily attach additional fingers or other tools, such as flashlights, screwdrivers or cameras. Modularity also gives the Sandia Hand a unique durability. The fingers are designed to fall off should the operator accidentally run the hand into a wall or another object.

Read about the Sandia Hand project.

About the photos
(by Randy Montoya, Sandia National Laboratories):

Sandia principal investigator Curt Salisbury developed an affordable robotic hand that is dexterous enough to mimic the capabilities of the human hand.

The Sandia Hand addresses challenges that have prevented widespread adoption of other robotic hands, including cost, durability, dexterity and modularity.