NNSA Blog

 

On Thursday morning, Dec. 17, NNSA’s Office of Defense Programs’ Office of Secure Transportation (OST) celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the transportation safeguards mission with a ceremony at the Mountain View Club on Kirtland Air Force Base. 

Deputy Secretary of Energy Dr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall congratulated OST on 40 years of success.

“During these past forty years, OST Agents have literally driven the distance from the Earth to Mars with no fatal accidents and no release of radioactive material,” Dr. Sherwood-Randall said. “Few other agencies can match this outstanding performance record.”NNSA Blog

OST alumni and senior leadership from Albuquerque’s DOE and NNSA community were present for the ceremony, to include the NNSA Office of Defense Programs Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator Mr. Phil Calbos.

In a commemorative address, Mr. Calbos also congratulated the most recent group of Federal Agent Nuclear Material Courier training graduates. The 22 OST graduates represent the less than two percent of all applicants who were chosen for and completed the 21 weeks of training to earn the title of Federal Agent, Nuclear Materials Courier. He mentioned the impressive prior service records of the candidates as well.

“In my book, you represent the best of the Nation and we’re pleased that you’re part of OST. OST is your next step in serving the nation. And it’s a big step with tremendous implications,” Mr. Calbos said. “Yours is a mission that we simply cannot afford to get wrong. We haven’t for the past forty years, thanks to many of the folks in this audience, and we won’t for the next forty years thanks to you and your successors.”

“OST has been at the forefront of this essential national security mission from the beginning,” Dr. Sherwood-Randall said. “I want to thank everyone at OST for your dedication to the safety and security of our country. You have our sincere appreciation for your four decades of organizational excellence.”

Dr. Sherwood-Randall and Mr. Calbos thanked the OST staff and new graduates’ family members, whose support, they said, contributes to success in one of the most essential national security missions undertaken by the U.S. government.

Dec 22, 2015 at 12:08 pm

Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and collaborators have found that most climate models overestimate the increase in global precipitation due to climate change.

Specifically, the team looked at 25 models and found they underestimate the increase in absorption of sunlight by water vapor as the atmosphere becomes moister, and therefore overestimate increases in global precipitation.

The team found global precipitation increase per degree of global warming at the end of the 21st century may be about 40 percent smaller than what the models, on average, currently predict.

The research appears in the Dec. 10 edition of the journal Nature.

Learn more about the research.

Dec 21, 2015 at 12:00 am

NNSA Blog

Earlier this month, Washington State University mechanical engineering students delivered two prototypes developed as part of their senior design projects to their Pacific Northwest National Laboratory mentors. The design projects were supported by the Next Generation Safeguards Initiative Human Capital Development (NGSI HCD) program, which works to recruit, train and retain qualified personnel to meet future international safeguards challenges. To advance the NGSI HCD mission, PNNL identified highly qualified WSU engineering students to work with PNNL experts on projects that support nonproliferation and nuclear safeguards. These student teams worked with PNNL mentors to create two prototypes:

  • A large doughnut-shaped fixture designed to hold gamma ray detectors and surround a 12-foot-long nuclear fuel assembly. In a working model, gamma ray measurements would detect whether any spent fuel is missing.
  • An alignment and orientation fixture and target turntable to hold a system that creates and compares 3D images of a nuclear material container to detect tampering.

The devices will be used in training, workshops and exercises to support nuclear safeguards, security and nonproliferation training in various domestic settings.

PNNL develops innovative technologies and conducts system studies to maintain and enhance international safeguards and the nonproliferation regime. Working with regional universities, such as WSU, PNNL creates opportunities for university students in appropriate program areas to apply their education to real projects that are addressing national security challenges.

WSU conducts an Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology, Inc.-approved industrial design clinic in which industry partners sponsor students and faculty to design and develop prototypes that meet specific industry needs. The industrial design clinic provides excellent learning opportunities for the engineering students while delivering a high-value product to industry at minimal cost to the industry partner.

PNNL's NGSI/HCD execution program has worked with the WSU Mechanical Design Program (Industrial Design Clinic) since 2009, with each semester resulting in the design, fabrication and delivery of one or more pieces of national security-applicable equipment that can be used in training, research and other applications.

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Dec 18, 2015 at 12:00 am

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Lawrence Livermore Laboratory engineer Bryan Moran won an award last month for his 3D printing innovation. It could revolutionize additive manufacturing.

Lawrence Livermore Lab engineer Bryan Moran wasn’t necessarily looking to improve on 3D printing technology when he moved over to Additive Manufacturing three years ago, but he may have done just that.

Moran’s creation, a new take on a process called projection micro-stereolithography, which uses UV light to create 3D objects, won him a coveted R&D 100 award in Las Vegas last month.

“It’s a leap forward because it’s combining two existing techniques in a unique way,” Moran said. “It’s enabling things that you just wouldn’t have thought of because it wasn’t practical before.”

Simply put, Moran’s printer, called the Large Area Projection Micro-Stereolithography (LAPuSL), projects an image onto a liquid resin that hardens when hit by light, to create 3D objects. Because his machine combines the extraordinary detail (resolution on the order of micrometers) inherent to direct light processors with high speed and a larger scan area, it gives operators the ability to make larger and more complex objects at higher speed. This enables the production of large components with fine features such as micro-architected materials with overall sizes around 10 centimeters, containing individual features in the micrometer range.

Read more about it.

 

Dec 17, 2015 at 12:00 am
NNSA Blog
Pantexans Caleb Rejino, left, and Danny Caverly, right, and Colin Caverly, Caverly’s son deliver meals to the Eveline Rivers Sunshine Cottages in Amarillo.
 
A team of Pantex volunteers provided support to families in the Eveline Rivers’ Sunshine Cottages to put healthy meals on the table while the single parents prepared for finals. The cottages are housing for low‑income or homeless single parents who want to finish their education, work and raise their children in a safe environment.
 

“Finals week can be a difficult time for anyone,” said Pantexan Caleb Rejino. “Eveline asked us to help the Sunshine Cottages by providing pre‑cooked or easy to prepare healthy meals. It is one less thing the parents have to worry about while studying for finals.”

Eveline Rivers, an Amarillo philanthropist, opened the Sunshine Cottages in 2001, with one home that was renovated into apartments. She now has six facilities with the goal to move “the whole family off the government system,” according to Eveline’s Sunshine Cottage website.

Residents of the Sunshine Cottages are required to take at least 12 hours of college classes each semester, work and ensure their children attend school. “These parents are working hard to finish their education and making sure their children learn by example,” Rejino said.

Read more at this link.

Dec 11, 2015 at 4:00 pm

NNSA Blog
Y-12 Deputy Site Manager Gene Sievers, left, and ProForce's Neal Wolfenbarger pose for photo at McGhee Tyson Airport in Knoxville, TN, as Wolfenbarger waits on his uncle to return from Washington, D.C.

Veterans Day is important to all Americans, but it carries an even more elevated meaning to those who have served our country in the Armed Forces. Not only are they recognized for their contribution, but the day demonstrates that the unique bonds brought about through military service remain strong long after the conflicts have finished.

Two Consolidated Nuclear Security managers and veterans, Ken Freeman and Gene Sievers, have volunteered their time to welcome home veterans who have visited Washington, D.C., as part of the HonorAir program. HonorAir Knoxville is a non-profit organization that takes World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans to the U.S. capital to see the memorials built in their honor at zero cost to the veteran.

Read more about them.

Dec 10, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Colleagues:

The Department of Energy has adopted an enterprise-wide approach to strengthening its preparedness for and its capability to respond to a broad spectrum of potential emergencies, including those resulting from natural phenomena (e.g., adverse weather, earthquakes) and from human actions (e.g., accidents, sabotage, terrorism). 

To help support the Department’s new approach, we have recently reorganized the NNSA Office of Emergency Operations (NA-40) and the NNSA Office of Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation (NA-80). 

NA-40 will now focus its efforts primarily on building the capacity to respond to all hazards, including a reinvigorated and a reintegrated emergency management governance structure and a new consolidated emergency operations center. The new organization for NA-40 will include:

  • The Office of Plans and Policy (NA-41), which will oversee the Department-wide Emergency Management System and serve as the Department’s Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board point of contact.
  • The Office of Operations and Exercise (NA-42), which will support the DOE/NNSA command structure for all hazards emergency management. Additionally, the office will develop and manage with input from other DOE entities the Department wide all-hazards exercise program.
  • The Office of Preparedness (NA-43), which will develop and deliver emergency management training across the Department.
  • The Office of Consolidated Emergency Operations Center (NA-44), which will provide the infrastructure for HQ-level operations, coordination, communications, and control and will operate DOE’s Consolidated Emergency Operations Center (CEOC) to improve the ability to respond to a DOE wide all-hazards emergency.

To ensure NNSA continue to devote priority attention to its unique and continuing responsibility for field deployable nuclear and radiological response assets, several functions previously performed within NA-40 have been placed under NA-80. The new organization for NA-80 will include:

  • The Office of Nuclear Incident Policy and Cooperation (NA-81) which will be a consolidation of the former Office of Counterterrorism Policy and Cooperation and the Office of International Emergency Management and Cooperation Programs (NA-46). NA-81 will develop and implement policy, provide technical solutions, and build capacity to strengthen:
    • domestic and international capabilities in counterterrorism and counterproliferation
    • international nuclear incident capabilities
  • The Office of Nuclear Forensics (NA-83), which was formerly the Office of National Technical Nuclear Forensics (NA-45). It will manage the NNSA's technical nuclear forensics assets and capabilities that support pre-detonation device and post detonation nuclear forensics
  • The Office of Nuclear Incident Response (NA-84), which was formerly the Office of Emergency Response (NA-42). NA-84 will serve as the technical leader in responding to and resolving nuclear and radiological threats worldwide. It will include expertise in the areas of radiological search, render safe, and consequence management.

NA-40 will continue to be led by Associate Administrator Deborah Wilber, and NA-80 will continue to be led by Associate Administrator Steven Aoki.

Frank Klotz and Madelyn Creedon
“Mission First, People Always”

Dec 9, 2015 at 11:00 am

NNSA Blog
From left, Tamra Barela, Chelsea Murphy, Tracy CDeBaca and Clay Burgess.

Contracting professionals from the NNSA Acquisition & Project Management (APM) Field Program Section (FPS) recently served as role players for Office of Secure Transportation (OST) training exercises in Arkansas and Oklahoma. OST Federal Agents transport U.S. nuclear weapons, components and special nuclear materials throughout the U.S. The APM volunteers helped OST create real-life training scenarios to enhance the skills of Federal Agents in working with civilians and mitigating any risk of terrorist activities during their convoys. For example, during the scenarios an opposing force might sabotage or attempt to sabotage a convoy to which the agents must respond.

The training not only provided the OST agents with motivated volunteers to assist with their training, but also provided FPS contracting staff an up-close look at the OST mission that they support. Through these exercises FPS gained hands-on insight into the vehicles, protective gear and weaponry that OST uses to keep the nuclear stockpile safe. Participants from FPS were Tracy CDeBaca, Clay Burgess, Chelsea Murphy, Tamra Barela, and Chris Grubbs.

Ms. CDeBaca said, “This training made an impact on me by showing the importance of the products and services that are contracted and purchased by APM-12 and gave me insight that what we do on a day-to-day basis is extremely important to the missions carried out by the agents. The work that we complete in contracts is more than just pushing paper and creating files. I had the opportunity to learn and see things that I would have never been able to experience outside of this training opportunity. I cannot thank OST and APM-12 management enough for providing this training opportunity.”

 

Dec 9, 2015 at 9:51 am

NNSA Blog

Dr. Njema Frazier walked the red carpet at the Ebony Power 100 event in Los Angeles Dec. 2.

 

Dr. Njema Frazier is a physicist in the NNSA’s Office of Defense Programs, leading scientific and technical efforts to ensure that the United States maintains a credible nuclear deterrent without nuclear explosive testing. In addition to her day job in national security, she is a member of the National Advisory Board of the National Society of Black Engineers; the Chair of the Algebra by 7th Grade Initiative for grades 3 through 7; the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Diversity Science, LLC, an expert-based network of scientists and engineers dedicated to broadening participation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Ebony magazine honored Dr. Frazier as one of its Ebony Power 100 at a ceremony in Los Angeles last week. She joined such icons as Drake, Loretta Lynch and Viola Davis. Dr. Frazier was recognized in the “Miracle Mile” category, as one of “the 2015 mavericks in medicine and science who literally keep hope alive,” according to the Ebony Power 100 website.

“This is outstanding recognition for Njema’s efforts in the overall science field, and for her contributions to DoE, NNSA and the Office of Defense Programs, and a tremendous example of having an impact far beyond her normal duties,” said Phil Calbos, Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs.

Click to read more about Dr. Frazier in her interview earlier this year for the Energy.gov series, Women@Energy.

Dec 7, 2015 at 12:00 am
NNSA Blog
From left, NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington; Dr. Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO); and NNSA Acting Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Brigadier General Stephen L. Davis standing in a pipe in a test tunnel that was formerly used for underground nuclear explosive testing at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS).

 

Dr. Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), recently visited three National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) sites—Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS), and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL)—to discuss NNSA’s support for CTBT-related efforts and learn more about how the Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP) enables the United States to maintain its nuclear deterrent while observing a moratorium on nuclear explosive testing. The SSP marked its 20th anniversary this year and draws extensively on technical assets across the NNSA complex.

The United States conducted its last nuclear explosive test in September 1992, and was the first country to sign the CTBT when it opened for signature in September 1996. Although the Treaty has not entered into force, the United States, in large part with NNSA expertise, supports all aspects of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission’s nuclear explosion monitoring and verification mission.  

The Executive Secretary’s visit kicked off at LLNL, and then continued to NNSS and LANL, with experts from Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) joining at LANL. After a visit to the National Atomic Testing Museum in Las Vegas, Nevada, Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington and Acting Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs Brigadier General Stephen L. Davis welcomed Dr. Zerbo and his CTBTO colleagues to NNSS.

The NNSS visit was Dr. Zerbo’s first to the site and provided the unique opportunity to highlight how it has transformed. Once known primarily as the site of more than 900 nuclear explosive tests, NNSS currently serves as an experimental testing facility and training ground for a variety of missions vital to U.S. and international safety and security. Joining Dr. Zerbo were Randy Bell, Director of the International Data Centre (IDC) Division at the CTBTO, and other CTBTO staff.

Ms. Harrington welcomed the CTBTO visitors: “I’m pleased that we can demonstrate for Dr. Zerbo, the CTBTO and the international community our significant commitment to maintain the safety and security of our nuclear deterrent in the absence of nuclear explosive testing. We will continue to work closely with the CTBTO to support their mission to deter and detect nuclear explosions, and we appreciate the opportunity to show Dr. Zerbo the many ways in which NNSA is working to make the world a safer place by reducing nuclear and radiological dangers.”

General Davis added, “Driven by the commitment to no longer perform nuclear explosive testing, we recently marked twenty years of success in the Stockpile Stewardship Program. Dr. Zerbo and his team saw some of our most important facilities and capabilities and met the men and women of NNSA who maintain our Nation's nuclear capabilities while complying with international commitments. In addition, we were able to clearly demonstrate how these same Stockpile Stewardship capabilities directly contribute to NNSA’s nonproliferation mission.”

Dr. Zerbo shared his perspective on the Treaty’s benefits with NNSA experts as he toured the three NNSA sites. At LLNL, he visited the National Atmospheric Release Advisory Center (NARAC), National Ignition Facility (NIF), and viewed high performance computing capabilities in support of both SSP and nonproliferation, in addition to discussions of CTBT support. At NNSS, he saw the up-close effects of decades of atmospheric and underground nuclear explosive testing, visiting Yucca Flat, Frenchman Flat, and the Sedan Crater. He also visited the U1a Facility, an underground laboratory for subcritical experiments, to see how the United States uses science to maintain the safety and security of its stockpile rather than nuclear explosive testing. Dr. Zerbo also learned about nuclear explosion monitoring and verification efforts conducted at NNSS in collaboration with the NNSA National Laboratories. At LANL, he toured the Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test (DARHT) Facility and heard about both LANL and SNL’s extensive technological and scientific work in support of CTBT and SSP, in addition to touring the Bradbury Science Museum.

At the conclusion of his visit to the NNSA sites, Dr. Zerbo said, “I greatly appreciate the opportunity to visit NNSA’s sites to learn more about the work being done there in support of the nuclear test-ban including how the Stockpile Stewardship Program allows the United States to continue to forgo nuclear explosive testing. The U.S. has been a great partner to the CTBTO, and during this trip we discussed ways to broaden and deepen our cooperation. Visiting Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory again allowed me to see the National Ignition Facility and learn more about Lawrence Livermore’s extensive work in support of CTBT. My first ever visits to the Nevada National Security Site, where so many nuclear explosive tests were conducted, and Los Alamos National Laboratory, the birthplace of the atomic bomb, allowed me to see firsthand not only the history at those sites but also the cutting-edge science and technology that will help to continue improving the CTBTO’s monitoring and verification capabilities.”

Senior officials at each site joined the meetings and tours, presenting overviews of the sites’ missions and activities. LLNL’s Director, Dr. William Goldstein, welcomed Dr. Zerbo on the first stop of his visit. At NNSS, Nevada Field Office Manager Steve Lawrence and Jim Holt, Acting President of National Security Technologies, LLC (NSTec) joined Dr. Zerbo for the day. At LANL, Principal Associate Director for Global Security Dr. Terry Wallace served as the host. Sandia National Laboratories Director Jill Hruby also met with Dr. Zerbo and the CTBTO visitors.

NNSA’s support for the CTBTO focuses on strengthening all aspects of the international nuclear explosion monitoring and verification regime. For example, NNSA provided substantial support for the preparation and execution of the CTBTO’s recent large-scale on-site inspection Integrated Field Exercise 2014 (IFE14). NNSA experts also work regularly with CTBTO staff to improve the capabilities for on-site inspections and of the International Monitoring System, supported by the International Data Centre in Vienna, Austria.

To see the NNSA’s Press Release for this visit, click here.

NNSA Blog
Charles Carrigan of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), shows Zerbo some of the monitoring equipment used for verification during on-site inspections.
NNSA Blog
Tom Anklam, an LLNL engineer, explains to Zerbo how the 192 laser beams inside the National Ignition Facility ignite a target.
NNSA Blog
At the target bay of the National Ignition Facility at LLNL.
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From left, Zerbo, Harrington and Davis prepare to enter a tunnel that was formerly used for underground nuclear explosive testing at the NNSS.
NNSA Blog
Stuart Rawlinson, a facility manager for the NNSS, gives a briefing in a tunnel formerly used for underground nuclear explosive testing.
NNSA Blog
Terry Priestly of Los Alamos National Laboratory's (LANL) Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test (DARHT) Facility explains the function of an imaging component.
NNSA Blog
Priestly showing Dr. Zerbo and his staff a cathode from the DARHT facility at LANL.
Dec 4, 2015 at 10:00 am