December 2013

Continuing with this week’s coverage of nonproliferation programs that supported President Obama’s Four-Year Effort, NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) describes the various challenges they faced during operations to remove and secure vulnerable nuclear material around the world. GTRI was at the forefront of implementing the President’s Four-Year Effort, and completion required the hard work and dedication of hundreds of individuals from DOE, the national laboratories, the U.S. federal government and international partners in 27 countries.

The completion of a typical nuclear material removal or elimination project includes a variety of political, technical, and regulatory activities. Throughout this effort, GTRI and its partners overcame several significant technical obstacles. The program’s noteworthy technical achievements included several firsts, including:

  • The first international transport of spent fuel by air, the first transport of both separated plutonium and non-U.S.–origin spent fuel to the United States;
  • The first known reuse of previously irradiated research reactor fuel;
  • The development of new processes and procedures to stabilize plutonium and convert uranium solutions to solid oxide;
  • The first international validation of a U.S DOE–designed Type B nuclear materials package for plutonium; and
  • The development of the first Type C cask to be used for the air transport of spent nuclear fuel.

Culmination of the Four-Year Effort: Overcoming Obstacles to Securing Nuclear MaThese achievements allowed GTRI to address additional forms of nuclear material and accelerate activities to remove material more quickly to achieve the goals laid out in the Four-Year Effort.

In addition, the program had to overcome numerous bureaucratic obstacles (often before or during a shipment), including having a shipment canceled by the foreign government after the spent fuel had been packaged and was ready for transport, having overflight permits canceled at the last minute, and having a transit permit canceled while a shipment was ongoing. In each case, GTRI and its partners were able to quickly implement contingency plans to ensure shipments were completed successfully.

Finally, GTRI and its partners overcame environmental impediments, such as an earthquake in Chile three days before a shipment, a blizzard in Russia that closed airports, and a typhoon that jeopardized a shipment from Vietnam.

In all cases, to make the President’s words reality, the task required the technical expertise, creativity, flexibility, perseverance, teamwork, and dedication of the hundreds of people who worked across the globe on the Four-Year Effort. The world now is a safer place because of their contributions.

Click here to read highlights of GTRI’s contributions to President Obama’s Four-Year Effort to secure vulnerable nuclear material around the world. See which countries and areas have had HEU or plutonium removed and secured by GTRI with this interactive map.

Dec 11, 2013 at 4:00 pm

The United States and Russia are today commemorating the completion of the 1993 U.S.-Russia HEU Purchase Agreement, commonly known as the Megatons to Megawatts Program. Under this agreement, more than 500 metric tons of weapons-origin highly enriched uranium from Russian nuclear warheads was downblended and shipped to the U.S. to fuel nuclear reactors. Over the past fifteen years, ten percent of all U.S. electricity has been supplied by fuel containing material from former Russian nuclear weapons. The final shipment of low enriched uranium under the agreement arrived in Baltimore this week, signaling the start of a new era of collaborative work between the U.S. and Russia.

Read more here. See additional photos of yesterday's shipment here.

Final Shipment of Fuel Converted From 20,000 Russian Nuclear Warheads Arrives

Dec 11, 2013 at 3:00 pm

 Pantex demonstrates ‘What’s the Matter’

Pantex scientists Barry Hill, left, and Matt Reyes demonstrate the properties of matter to a group of fifth graders at a recent Windows on a Wider World event at the Don Harrington Discover Center in Amarillo. Hill and Reyes, who both work in the Explosives Technology Division at Pantex, put on the “What’s the Matter” demonstration using liquid nitrogen to freeze a variety of items – including balloons, a banana and a racquetball – to demonstrate the different properties of matter and how they can be changed.

B&W Pantex supports a variety of educational outreach events throughout the year in an effort to foster an interest in science and math among students in the Texas Panhandle.

Dec 11, 2013 at 12:00 pm

President Barack Obama in Prague, Czech Republic April 5, 2009“Today I am announcing a new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years. We will set new standards, expand our cooperation with Russia, pursue new partnerships to lock down these sensitive materials.”

- President Barack Obama
Prague, Czech Republic April 5, 2009

As President Obama’s Four-Year Effort comes to a close this month, NNSA is highlighting the work carried out by its nonproliferation programs to reduce the threat of vulnerable nuclear material around the world. In support of the Four-Year Effort, NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) led the effort to secure and, when possible, eliminate these dangerous materials. Working at civilian sites in more than 100 countries, GTRI executes its mission by converting research reactors and isotope production facilities from using HEU to using low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel/targets, removing and/ or dispositioning excess nuclear and radiological materials, and protecting nuclear and radiological materials from theft. As such, GTRI was at the forefront of implementing the Four-Year Effort.

Under the effort, GTRI accomplished the following major tasks:

  • Removed and/or dispositioned nearly 3,000 kilograms of HEU and plutonium, bringing the lifetime total to more than 5,060 kilograms—enough material to produce more than 200 nuclear weapons.
  • Removed all HEU material from 11 countries plus Taiwan, bringing the lifetime total to 27 locations: Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iraq, Latvia, Libya, Mexico, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vietnam.
  • Secured more than 10 metric tons of HEU and 3 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium from Kazakhstan’s BN-350 reactor and transferred the material to long-term storage.

Click here to read highlights of GTRI’s contributions to President Obama’s Four-Year Effort to secure vulnerable nuclear material around the world. See which countries and areas have had HEU or plutonium removed and secured by GTRI with this interactive map.

Dec 9, 2013 at 11:00 am

By Ben Dotson, Project Coordinator for Digital Reform, DOE Public Affairs

 National Security & Public Safety at the National Labs

For more than 60 years, the Energy Department's National Labs have played a crucial role in the national security of the United States. Founded during the immense investment in scientific research and technical innovation in the period preceding World War II, the National Labs conduct cutting edge research in a diverse variety of fields, advancing the safety and security of the American public. This month on energy.gov, we're highlighting that great work -- from cybersecurity to robotics and beyond.

One of the key missions of the Energy Department is guaranteeing the safety, security and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear stockpile. At Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories, scientists develop and employ the tools, technologies and high performance computing resources necessary to support the stockpile stewardship program.

The National Labs also support U.S. national security in other equally important ways. Argonne National Lab has helped local and state governments develop emergency plans, run drills for pandemic outbreaks, and analyzed ways to enhance security at plants and factories across the country. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory researchers study counterterrorism and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. They have developed a first-of-its-kind framework for major metropolitan areas that covers natural threats and the long term complications arising from biological, chemical and radiological incidents. Scientists and researchers at Idaho National Laboratory have developed a new flash x-ray system that can reveal how a projectile or weapon interacts with armor at the moment of impact.

The national security and public safety work performed at the labs has been recognized with a number of R&D 100 awards, the "Oscars of Innovation." Throughout the month of December, keep checking energy.gov as we feature the National Labs and their innovative work supporting U.S. national security and public safety. To learn more about the National Labs, visit energy.gov/labs.

Originally posted on energy.gov.

Dec 6, 2013 at 4:00 pm

IPRO logo

A new planning tool that minimizes required on-hand inventory, while ensuring that the right product with the right quality is delivered at the right time, has been implemented at Pantex. The NNSA Integrated Production Planning and Execution System (IPRO) was delivered seven months ahead of schedule and approximately $8 million below projected cost.

Pantex developed and deployed IPRO to modernize its Enterprise Resource Planning tool system and reduce cost while improving operational visibility and inventory accuracy. IPRO provides a major hardware and software system upgrade that integrates management of mission critical functions.

The program not only replaces software management systems dating back nearly 25 years, it provides a portable, customizable and flexible ERP solution to sustain the ever-evolving electronic workplace.

See more.

Dec 5, 2013 at 11:00 am

Dr. Kevin Greenaugh, Deputy Assistant Deputy Administrator for NNSA’s Office of Stockpile Management, recently received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Mercer University.

The award is presented to an alum who has served his/her profession in an outstanding manner, serving as an excellent representative of Mercer University in the process. Recipients are recognized for their exceptional service to humanity and dedication, ideals fostered at Mercer University.

Last year's recipient was Nancy Grace of CNN's Nancy Grace Show.

Read more.

About the photo:
Mercer University President William D. Underwood presents Kevin Greenaugh with the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Kevin Greenaugh receives Distinguished Alumnus Award from Mercer University

Dec 4, 2013 at 10:00 am

For the tenth consecutive year, Y‑12 received the National Safety Council’s Occupational Excellence Achievement award. The award recognizes companies, units or facilities with no fatalities during a calendar year and 50 percent or fewer reported lost-time injuries and illnesses than the Bureau of Labor Statistics rating for their industry.

The second award received was the U.S. Department of Energy Voluntary Protection Program Star of Excellence. As the award states, employees have “achieved an outstanding level of performance in meeting established safety and health goals, actively conducting outreach to others and in achieving an injury and illness rate significantly below the average of similar businesses and operations.”

Read more.

Dec 3, 2013 at 4:00 pm