NNSA recently participated in the inaugural Nationwide RadResponder Drill conducted by the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors. The drill involved more than 200 participants from 38 states, including NNSA’s Consequence Management Home Team and Radiological Assistance Program responders from six of the nine DOE regions. More than 21,000 environmental radiation measurements were collected and validated during this one-day drill .
The RadResponder Network is a mobile, cloud-based radiation data collection system that provides federal and state, local, tribal, and territorial response teams and leadership with a standardized service for managing, organizing, analyzing, and mapping radiation data. The Network is built on the experiences and lessons learned from the Fukushima Daiichi reactor emergency that revealed the need for a coordinated effort across all levels of government when responding to a catastrophic incident. This capability uses data management technology initially developed by NNSA and subsequently extended to state and local responders by FEMA. One of the goals of the drill was to help fully and quickly engage the state and local trained radiation specialists. The ability to collect more timely information for incident commanders is essential to not only save lives and stabilize a radiological event, but also to make better use of support resources.
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During the drill, participants collected 21,835, radiation measurements, 200 field samples, and recorded 132 observations. During the drill, measurements were collected using handheld meters, stationary monitoring systems, and soil and water samples.
Douglas Dearolph, acting NNSA Associate Administrator and Chief for Defense Nuclear Security, presented Nevada Field Office employee Susan Christian-Payne with the Bradley A. Peterson Professional of the Year award yesterday.
The award recognizes employees whose contributions to NNSA security programs serve as models for excellence and commitment to the NNSA mission.
This week, NNSA's Office of Acquisition and Project Management hosted a training at the National Training Center in Albuquerque to improve NNSA’s capability to plan and deliver safe, quality construction on budget.
APM's Corporate Project Management program is providing the training, processes, tools, and technology to develop and sustain a Federal workforce capable of managing design and construction contracts for capital asset projects. The tools and trainings include, but are not limited to, the use of project management handbooks, Standard Operating Practices, firm-fixed price contracts, support service contracts, strategic Federal alliances, and an interactive web-based tool for implementing, managing, monitoring, and approving project configuration processes throughout project lifecycle.
NNSA has already made significant investments to strengthen project management through highly qualified, accountable, and responsible federal project directors (FPDs). NNSA is ensuring that as the project progresses from planning to design to construction, the FPDs have the appropriate training, experience, and certification level to successfully execute the project. FPDs must have a sound understanding of the Federal Acquisition Regulations and have a broad knowledge base in order to communicate performance expectations with NNSA’s contracting officers and contractors. NNSA has demonstrated project cost and schedule goals can be achieved, even with the most complex projects, when clear expectations are set, the Federal and contractor site and headquarters teams are aligned, and all parties accept accountability for their roles in project delivery.
Over the past three years, NNSA has delivered its $725M project portfolio approximately $50M - or seven percent - under its original budget. NNSA is saving taxpayer dollars, allowing scarce resources to be reinvested back into mission. GAO and Congress have both recognized NNSA’s improvements. In February 2013, GAO removed all NNSA projects costing under $750M from the High Risk List.
“The Last of the Big Dogs” has a new home after Pantex workers recently delivered one of the few remaining B53 nuclear weapons cases to the Freedom Museum USA in Pampa, Texas.
The final B53, which received its “Big Dog” nickname from dismantlement workers due to its massive size, was dismantled at Pantex on October 25, 2011, in a historic ceremony. The B53 was the oldest, largest and most destructive nuclear weapon in the U.S. arsenal at the time it was retired.
Pantex was looking for a way to preserve the legacy of the B53 and recognize the workers who built, maintained and dismantled it. The Freedom Museum, located about 45 minutes from Pantex, volunteered to take the dismantled weapon on loan to add to its large collection of historical military artifacts.
Monica Graham, Pantex historian, said the move was an important effort to publicly display this iconic weapon that served in secret for decades, helping to ensure the safety of America.
The B53 was first put into service in 1962, a year when Cold War tensions were at their highest during the Cuban Missile Crisis. It served a critical role in the nation’s nuclear deterrent through the end of the Cold War, retiring from the active stockpile in 1997.
The B53 weighed around 10,000 pounds and was about the size of a minivan. Many B53s were dismantled in the 1980s, but a significant number remained in the U.S. arsenal until they were retired in 1997.
The B53 which was delivered this week consisted only of the outer casing of the weapon and is empty on the inside. It is one of only three such museum artifacts in the country built from a stockpile weapon. The others were assembled from training units or spare parts.
The NNSA holds a unique and important place in global nuclear science and technology. Through our laboratories and plants, our scientists conduct specialized research that is recognized internationally as among the best in the world. We should not take this for granted.
America’s National Security Strategy stresses that, “science and technology—and our ability to apply the ingenuity of our public and private sectors toward the most difficult foreign policy and security challenges of our time—will help us protect our citizens and advance U.S. national security priorities.”
That scientific ingenuity is embodied by NNSA’s workforce. Accomplishing our missions of maintaining a safe, secure and effective stockpile and being a world leader in preventing and countering nuclear proliferation and terrorism can only be accomplished with a superb technical base. This base must include resources for basic science to drive technical solutions to security challenges—both today and for decades to come.
That is why it is vitally important for us to assign the highest priority to maintaining the core scientific, technical and engineering (ST&E) capabilities of the Nation’s nuclear security enterprise. Our investment in the ST&E personnel and facilities that make this possible, as well as our commitment to attract and retain the best and brightest talent, must remain consistent and steadfast.
We will continue to emphasize the importance of science because, quite simply, our missions depend on it.
“Mission first, people always."
Three scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory and two from Livermore National Laboratory were named to Thomson Reuters' list of The World’s Most Influential Scientific Minds. The ranking recognizes researchers whose published work in their specialty areas has consistently been judged by peers to be of particular significance and utility.
Allison Aiken, LANL (top left)
Aiken’s work focuses on ambient aerosol measurements.
Alan Perelson, LANL (top middle)
Perelson is part of a multinational team whose work contributed to the understanding of the Hepatitis C virus and a possible cure.
Bette Korber, LANL (top right)
Korber’s work focuses on the human immune response to HIV infection and HIV evolution.
Charles Westbrook, LLNL (bottom left)
Westbrook pioneered research that applies codes from studying weapons dynamics to combustion chemistry.
William Pitz, LLNL (bottom right)
Pitz’s research focuses on the development of chemical kinetic mechanisms and their application to problems such as combustion in homogeneous charge compression ignition engines and diesel engines.
NNSA's Office of Acquisition and Project Management (APM), the community manager for acquisition professionals, hosted NNSA Contracting Officers in Albuquerque this week to align NNSA acquisition policies and procedures with Departmental goals and priorities, and to clarify roles and responsibilities among the various COs across the Nuclear Security Enterprise.
A key discussion topic was how NNSA was implementing the Deputy Secretary's policy for improving acquisition planning and contract management for capital asset projects. The primary principle behind this policy is that the Department must align contract incentives and vehicles with taxpayer interests. Each party must share the risk by bearing responsibility for its own actions. The policy includes guidance to ensure proper project planning so that requirements are clearly defined before issuing a solicitation; to first consider the use of a firm-fixed-price contract to complete work requirements; to establish objective performance measures when a fixed-price contract is not in the government’s best interest; to utilize fee strategies that assure each party in the contract bears responsibility for its own actions; and to document and stay apprised of real-time, accurate, and reliable project performance data.
With this new organizational construct in place, NNSA has delivered its $725M project portfolio $50M - or 7% - under budget during the past the three years. In 2013, NNSA was removed from the GAO High Risk list for construction projects, with a Total Project Cost up to $750 million as a result of the improvements it is making in NNSA contract and project management.
Preparing the country to respond to a large scale nuclear event is the primary function of the NNSA Office of Emergency Response. This week, Consequence Management teams from that office participated in the Vibrant Response 14 exercise at Camp Atterbury in Muscatatuck, Ind. and surrounding areas.
Taking advantage of a U. S. Army North exercise, NNSA, alongside FEMA, Indiana Department of Homeland Security, and numerous other local, state, and federal agencies with civilian personnel from across the country responded to a simulated terrorist attack with a nuclear weapon. NNSA deployed personnel to federal and state operating facilities to coordinate the response to the radiological aspects of this scenario. Additionally, a Consequence Management Home Team provided support from Las Vegas, NV, Livermore, CA. and Albuquerque, NM. This team provided models of fallout deposition and analysis of environmental monitoring data.
This was the most extensive exercise of this type to date, involving not only 5000+ field deployed Department of defense Military personnel in the field but also a multitude of support and coordination facilities across the country. Lessons learned during this exercise will be used to improve NNSA and other national organizations response to nuclear and radiological incidents of all scales and inform national level policies guiding that response.
More photos are available here.
Preparing students for the technological skill sets that will be required in tomorrow’s STEM related jobs in industry is an ongoing priority for the National Security Campus (NSC) in Kansas City, Mo. Last week, the NSC hosted a Model-Based Engineering Workshop for 32 college professors and students from Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to gain first-hand knowledge of the exciting opportunities and challenges engineering professionals tackle each day.
In 2012, the NNSA established a $4 million grant which launched the Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program (MSIPP). This consortium based program formed two advanced manufacturing consortiums which included 8 universities and two NNSA sites (NSC and Y-12).
This year’s students and professors were from Hampton University, Clark Atlanta University, Alabama A&M, University of District of Columbia, North Carolina A&T, Southern University New Orleans, Lincoln University, and Howard University. The Model-Based Engineering workshop helps educators incorporate 3D modeling and advanced manufacturing into their curriculum through hands-on model-based application training and an exercise for a mock rocket assembly.
Through this public and private partnership, the HBCU teachers can better shape their curriculum and advise students on what skills employers expect from engineers and scientists and the NNSA learns about the technical strengths of the participating universities, which will help future recruiting and R&D initiatives.
Fourteen hazardous materials response teams from New Mexico, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma will test their skills at the 18th annual Hazmat Challenge July 29 through Aug. 1 at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The intent of the challenge is to provide hazardous materials responders the opportunity to test their skills, share best practices with other response agencies, and learn new techniques through realistic hazardous materials release scenarios in a safe, non-hazardous environment.
A video about the 2008 and 2012 Hazmat challenges is on the Laboratory’s Web site and on LANL's YouTube channel.