NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Don Cook and Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Military Applications Brigadier General James Dawkins visited Sandia National Laboratories yesterday. During their visit, they met with employees to discuss the technical challenges facing the management of the nation’s stockpile stewardship program. The discussion focused on the ongoing need for exceptional science, technology and engineering at the national laboratories in order to be able to continue to conduct the annual assessment and certification of the safety, security, performance and effectiveness of each weapon system without underground nuclear testing.
Down a remote canyon near Los Alamos National Laboratory lies a facility known as the “Tunnel Vault,” once one of the most secret and secure locations in the United States, it’s the original post-WWII nuclear stockpile storage area.
Located in Los Alamos canyon at Technical Area 41, the Tunnel Vault was built between 1948 and 1949. The facility has a formidable security perimeter, a hardened guard tower — complete with gun ports and bulletproof glass — and a series of gates and doors that lead to a 230-foot long concrete tunnel that goes straight into the canyon wall.
At the end of the tunnel is a large alcove room with a single bank vault door. Through that door is a vault built inside a vault with five storage areas, all protected with identical bank vault doors.
Check out the video that tours the declassified facility available on the Los Alamos National Laboratory YouTube.
Workers put up signs reminding Pantex workers to do their part to help create a strong Nuclear Safety Culture (NSC). The signs are part of a multi-faceted ongoing campaign to strengthen the culture at the plant.
NSC has been a primary point of emphasis at Pantex for more than a year. Pantexans at all levels have been involved in the NSC initiative, which includes such things as fostering a questioning attitude that emphasizes stop work authority for any safety issue, strengthening employee concerns and engaging in quality-of-life initiatives. The campaign is designed to help create an environment where nuclear safety is the unquestioned top priority.
NNSA Acting Administrator Bruce Held speaks to NNSA employees during an all hands meeting today. The meeting was broadcast throughout the NNSA enterprise where employees were given the opportunity to ask questions.
The Kansas City Plant recently hosted top STEM educators from Historically Black Colleges and Universities, such as Howard University and North Carolina A&T, to help them incorporate 3-D modeling and advanced manufacturing into their curriculum.
KCP partners with Universities and local high schools to help prepare students with the technological skill sets needed for tomorrow's jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields.
The program is funded by a $4 million grant by the NNSA to 22 HBCUs and six NNSA sites, including the Kansas City Plant, in key STEM areas. This funding supports NNSA’s new Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program, a consortium program organized to build a sustainable STEM pipeline between NNSA sites and HBCUs.
Medical isotope mitigation efforts are one part of a comprehensive multi-laboratory NNSA approach to assisting the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) in completing the treaty’s verification system. Several Energy Department laboratories are helping the CTBTO complete and operate the verification system for testing and evaluation purposes, including Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, and Idaho National Laboratory. Additional support for CTBTO activities is provided by the U.S. Departments of State and Defense.
Scientists from PNNL are among the experts featured in a new video, “Zeroing in on Xenon,” which demonstrates how the world’s “nuclear investigators” detect nuclear explosions. Produced by the preparatory commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), the video highlights the sophisticated analysis methods and instrumentation developed at PNNL that better differentiate between medical- and nuclear explosion-related emissions. The video appears on the CTBTO’s website and YouTube.
Emissions from medical isotope production facilities – even when within health and safety standards – can increase the radioxenon background level in the atmosphere, which complicates efforts to determine whether an event was a nuclear explosion. Increasingly, producers of medical and industrial isotopes are looking at methods to reduce emissions, including by exploring alternatives to fission-based production techniques that do not emit xenon. To facilitate this goal, the CTBTO Prepatory Commission, along with experts from PNNL, engages producers in the United States and worldwide to encourage them to pledge emissions reductions.
For example, Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary-elect of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission and Jean-Michel Vanderhofstadt, Managing Director of the Institute for Radioelements (IRE) in Belgium, signed the first pledge to cooperate to mitigate the effects of noble gas emissions on nuclear explosion monitoring. IRE is a major worldwide producer of radioisotopes used in nuclear medicine and its emissions – while safe from a health perspective – contribute to regional radioxenon levels that can adversely affect highly sensitive nuclear explosion monitoring sensors. Efforts by European producers to reduce radioxenon emissions serve as a model for international cooperation toward further enhancing the international community’s ability to detect nuclear explosions.
For 20 years, the Pantex Lunch Bunch Club has been working to develop the gift of gab.
Recently, the members of the Toastmasters International club gathered at Pantex to celebrate two decades of learning to be better speakers and better leaders. About 20 members, including three who were there for the founding of the club, celebrated the achievement.
The club started in 1993 as a way to create a Pantex speaker’s bureau. Members worked to develop better presentation skills to represent Pantex at other sites and in the community. Over the years, more than 100 Pantexans passed through the organization, improving their public speaking skills by creating speeches and presentations for other members. Many of the participants advanced to area, division, district and regional Toastmasters competitions.
About the photo:
Toastmasters District Governor T.K. O’Geary presents a certificate commemorating 20 years to members of the Pantex Lunch Bunch Club Melissa Phifer and Roger Coffey.
B&W Y-12 recently signed agreements with two new protégés — BES Technologies and The Molecular Group. The companies join eight other groups currently involved in Y-12's Mentor-Protégé program.
These agreements are intended to significantly contribute to Y-12’s objectives of promoting technological growth and business development opportunities.
About the photos:
Left photo: Erik Connard, BES Technologies chief executive officer, signs a Mentor-Protégé agreement with B&W Y-12 President and General Manager Chuck Spencer. Looking on are (from left) BES Technologies’ Shannon Eaker, chief scientific officer, and Brian Quinley, chief operating officer; Lisa Copeland, B&W Y-12 Socioeconomic Programs manager, and mentor Tom Ford, manager of B&W Y-12’s Industrial Hygiene organization.
Right photo: Roy Lindsey, president and chief executive officer of The Molecular Group, signs a Mentor-Protégé agreement with B&W Y-12 President and General Manager Chuck Spencer as mentor Jeremy Benton of Y-12’s Program Management and Lisa Copeland, B&W Y-12 Socioeconomic Programs manager, look on.
The Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory launched an aggressive initiative to boost American industry's global competitiveness two years ago, by opening the High Performance Computing Innovation Center (HPCIC) in the Livermore Valley Open Campus. Since then, the HPCIC has been reaching out to industry to broaden the use of supercomputers for the technological and business innovation that underpins the nation's economic vitality.
About the photos:
Above: A team of LLNL scientists, in partnership with engineers from Navistar, NASA, the U.S. Air Force and other industry leaders, utilized HPC modeling and simulation to develop technologies that increase semi-truck fuel efficiency by at least 17 percent.
Left to right: Dimitri Kusnezov, National Nuclear Security Administration chief scientist and director of Science and Policy, Michel McCoy, director of Lawrence Livermore's Advanced Simulation and Computing program, congratulate John Kelly, senior vice president and director of IBM Research, for a successful 20-year collaboration in high performance computing.
What better time to think about Christmas than the middle of July when it’s 100 degrees outside?
Pantex Christmas Project organizers are counting on their fellow Pantexans to overlook the sweltering heat and generate a little Christmas cheer in an effort to raise money for families who will need help this holiday season.
The Christmas Project’s committee came up with the idea to ask departments and organizations across the Pantex Plant to create baskets that are then auctioned to raise money for the Project. The response, with more than 50 baskets submitted to the silent auction, has been overwhelming. Basket themes range from outdoor activities, grilling and sports to quilting, movie night and family games.
Pantexans will bid on the baskets over the next two weeks, with bids already totaling several thousand dollars. All of the money will go the Christmas Project, which each year picks about 50 needy families to provide with gifts and necessities to ensure they have a Merry Christmas.