Securing nuclear materials takes a global effort and coordination between technical and policy experts. To support effective nuclear security worldwide, the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Office of Nonproliferation and International Security (NIS) and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) co-sponsored the second International Workshop on Nuclear Forensics Methodologies at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, Wash., Oct. 28 through Nov. 8, 2013. 

Nuclear forensics helps law enforcement investigations of incidents in which nuclear or other radioactive material is found outside of regulatory control. Nuclear forensics experts seek to uncover the process history and origin of nuclear and other radioactive material.

Workshop participants engaged in hands-on laboratory exercises and attended interactive demonstrations of fundamental concepts of nuclear forensic methodologies. Participants also worked in teams during a mock nuclear smuggling event and forensic investigation. As the workshop progressed, instructors covered more complex nuclear forensics concepts, such as advanced physical measurements, analysis and interpretation.

Experts from Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Pacific Northwest national laboratories collaborated with representatives from the IAEA, the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation, the United Kingdom Atomic Weapons Establishment, the European Commission’s Joint Research Center Institute for Transuranium Elements, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to develop and present the workshop curriculum. This year’s 26 participants came from Algeria, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

International Workshop on Nuclear Forensics Strengthens Global SecurityPhoto Credit: Dean Calma / IAEA

International Workshop on Nuclear Forensics Strengthens Global SecurityPhoto Credit: Dean Calma / IAEA

NNSA BlInternational Workshop on Nuclear Forensics Strengthens Global SecurityPhoto Credit: Dean Calma / IAEA

Nov 12, 2013 at 12:00 pm

Michele Smith, Deputy Director, Warhead Dismantlement Transparency Program

Reaching President Obama’s goal of a world without nuclear weapons requires overcoming technical challenges in verifying that disarmament has occurred. For more than a decade, the U.S. and U.K. have been working together to improve technical verification—an endeavor that balances the need to protect classified and sensitive information with the need to obtain enough data to inform the process.

Michele Smith, Deputy Director for the Warhead Dismantlement Transparency Program within NNSA’s Office of Nonproliferation and International Security, recently shared technical verification lessons learned by the U.S. and U.K. She was joined by Mark Ruglys of the British Embassy to the United States. The presentation took place at a side event in conjunction with meetings of the UN General Assembly First Committee on Disarmament and International Security.

Smith and Ruglys specifically focused on the experience the two countries gained through a year-long monitored dismantlement exercise designed to test existing methodologies and identify areas where further development is needed. To be as realistic as possible, the exercise was performed in an operational nuclear facility with representative quantities of fissile material and simulated high explosives.

The full presentation (approximately 30 minutes, including Q&A) was webcast and currently is available at http://webtv.un.org/watch/technical-challenges-in-verifying-nuclear-disarmament/2769294424001/.

Nov 8, 2013 at 11:00 am

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, in partnership with Intel and Cray, has announced a unique high performance computing (HPC) cluster that will serve research scientists at all three institutions and provide a proving ground for new HPC and Big Data technologies and architectures.

The Catalyst resource, a Cray(R) CS300(TM) cluster supercomputer, will be shared between the three partners with access rights based on level of investment. System access will be managed through LLNL's High Performance Computing Innovation Center (HPCIC), whose mission is to work with industrial partners in the development of computing solutions for the U.S. to compete effectively in the 21st century global economy.

Read more.

About the photo:
Catalyst is a unique high performance computing (HPC) cluster that will serve research scientists and provide a proving ground for new HPC and Big Data technologies and architectures. It was recently installed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.

 Livermore installs big data machine

Nov 6, 2013 at 10:00 am

SRTE safety engineer named safety professional of the yearSafety engineer Sonya Patton is a familiar sight around the Savannah River Tritium Enterprise (SRTE) facilities. Her hands-on approach to safety leadership keeps her out and about in the facilities, watching and guiding personnel toward safety excellence.

That approach produces results: As of this writing, SRTE has surpassed 4.4 million hours without an injury resulting in time away from work, and Sonya has been named the Safety Professional of the Year by the Augusta Chapter of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE).

The award recognizes her expertise, her contributions to the safety profession, and her leadership in establishing, maintaining, and improving safety programs. She has served as a safety professional at the Savannah River Site since 1990, with another 10 years’ experience in the commercial nuclear industry prior to that. She is an active member and past president of the ASSE.  

The ASSE, founded in 1911, is the nation’s oldest and largest professional safety organization. Its more than 32,000 members manage, supervise and consult on safety, health, and environmental issues in industry, insurance, government, and education.The Augusta Chapter, formed in 1983, has membership from 19 counties in Georgia and South Carolina.

Nov 5, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Pantex process engineer Savannah Gates recently talked to Amarillo high school students about engineering at the Top of Texas Career Expo. Gates used a variety of puzzles to teach engineering principles to students who might be interested in the field. Pantex professionals from specialties such as IT, engineering, and security supported the career fair, educating more than 900 juniors and seniors about career options at Pantex.

 Pantex supports career expo

Pantex supports career expo

Nov 4, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Department of Energy has removed all remaining highly enriched uranium from Hungary. Check out the links below to see videos and additional photos of the operation, which was successfully completed by NNSA's Global Threat Reduction Initiative.

Read more.

Watch videos on NNSA's YouTube channel here and here and see a timelapse video of the operation here. Additional photos are available on NNSA's Flickr.

DOE removes all remaining HEU from Hungary

Nov 4, 2013 at 2:00 pm

 RSL conducts outreach in San Diego

Aerial Measurement System personnel from Remote Sensing Laboratory (RSL) in Las Vegas, Nevada, this week conducted outreach at the annual CBRNe World Conference in San Diego, Calif. They were joined by representatives from the Region 7 Radiological Assistance Program from Livermore National Laboratory. It includes representatives from more than 20 countries.

Nov 1, 2013 at 10:00 am

Over the last 50 years, scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's Biosciences and Biotechnology Division have been instrumental researchers on the Human Genome Project, developing high-tech devices to sort cells and analyze DNA and providing the science for federal programs to defend the nation from biological weapons.

Livermore has compiled a complete list of their biosciences contributions. See more.

About the photo:
In the 1970s, the Laboratory established preeminence in cytometric research. Livermore was the first to use flow cytometry to sort chromosomes.

 Livermore's biosciences celebrates 50th anniversary

Oct 30, 2013 at 1:00 pm

The most recent NNSA quarterly summary of experiments conducted as part of its science-based stockpile stewardship program is now available here.

The quarterly summary prepared by NNSA’s Office of Defense Programs provides descriptions of key NNSA facilities that conduct stockpile stewardship experiments. These include some of the most sophisticated scientific research facilities in the world including, the Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test (DARHT) facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory, National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the Z machine at Sandia National Laboratories. The summary also provides the number of experiments performed at each facility during each quarter of the fiscal year.

The U.S. Stockpile Stewardship Program is a robust program of scientific inquiry used to sustain and assess the nuclear weapons stockpile without the use of underground nuclear tests. The experiments carried out within the program are used in combination with complex computational models and NNSA’s Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) Program to assess the safety, security and effectiveness of the stockpile. An extraordinary set of science, technology and engineering (ST&E) facilities have been established in support of the stockpile stewardship program.

Oct 29, 2013 at 3:00 pm

Savannah River Tritium Enterprise (SRTE) went above and beyond its FY13 productivity savings goals. Overall, SRTE’s validated productivity savings totaled $2.605 million, which represents more than 116 percent of the goal. Performance against other Continuous Improvement goals was impressive as well, with 20 percent of employees engaged in a Continuous Improvement (CI) action each month and each division initiating at least one Lean Event per month.

Among the 28 CI projects validated in FY13 were:

  • The development of a calibration process that will maintain the Measuring and Test Equipment tools for facility operations, while reducing the overall cost of the program (validated savings more than $377,000)
  • A Glove Test Project to help resolve permeation and glove degradation issues, using SRTE Engineering interns to perform the needed testing (validated savings of nearly $176,000) 
  • The replacement of lead acid batteries in the standby diesel generator with environmentally friendly absorbed gas mat batteries, eliminating the need for a safety shower (validated savings more than $118,000)

About the photo:
P.K. Hightower of SRTE Quality & Performance Excellence presents to Joe Shake of SRTE Engineering a shirt in recognition of his contributions to SRTE's productivity savings.

Savannah River Tritium Enterprise exceeds productivity savings goals for FY13

Oct 29, 2013 at 12:00 pm