Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation (DNN) Anne Harrington welcomed Ratanang Margin Moagi from the Department of Energy of South Africa and Ramasukudu Gabriel Pitsoane of the South African National Nuclear Regulator to the NNSA’s and International Atomic Energy Agency’s 25th International Training Course (ITC) on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities at Sandia National Laboratories.
The participation of South African officials at the ITC is just the latest activity in a long-term collaboration between NNSA and South Africa. This partnership has resulted in specific accomplishments that have improved nuclear material security conditions in South Africa while enabling the peaceful uses of nuclear technology – in particular, the secure production of isotopes for medical purposes. These activities are ongoing, and future projects will continue to benefit South Africans and the international community.
A key area of NNSA cooperation with the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation’s (Necsa) Pelindaba Site has been to collaborate on meeting International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) guidelines for physical protection of nuclear facilities and materials. For the past five years, NNSA in cooperation with Necsa, has been working to enhance security at several buildings at Necsa’s Pelindaba site, including the central and secondary alarm stations. The teams completed this work at the site in July 2014. A U.S. interagency delegation visited in August 2014 to review the newly installed systems, affirming that the buildings at Pelindaba where NNSA and Necsa collaborated are secured consistent with the highest international standards.
DNN is continuing to work with Necsa to secure additional rooms containing high priority radioactive sources and other materials of concern at the Pelindaba site. In Sandia National Laboratories hosted Necsa security staff for Central Alarm Station operations training on best practices for improving assessment and response capabilities.” In addition, DNN is partnering with the Ministry of Health to provide security enhancements at high priority radiological sites throughout the country. NNSA and Necsa will continue to work together to identify future joint projects designed to secure both nuclear and radiological materials at facilities inside and outside the Pelindaba site.
DNN pursues permanent threat reduction through the removal or elimination of weapons-usable nuclear material. In 2011, the United States completed the removal of all U.S.-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) in South Africa. In the announcement of the removal Harrington said, “The completion of this project is another example of the close partnership between NNSA and the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation, and the significant technical expertise and professionalism of Necsa were key factors in the success of the operation.”
In 2008, NNSA and Necsa successfully completed the conversion of South Africa’s SAFARI-1 research reactor from using highly enriched uranium (HEU) to low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel. With this conversion, there are no longer any nuclear reactors in South Africa using HEU fuel.
NNSA continues to work with South Africa to convert their process to produce the medical isotope Molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) at the SAFARI-1 reactor to using only LEU. NTP Radioisotopes (a subsidiary of Necsa) successfully achieved the first large-scale production of Mo-99 using LEU targets in 2010. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved NTP-produced Mo-99 from LEU targets for U.S. patient care in 2010, and NTP’s material continues to be regularly imported into the United States by U.S. generator manufacturers for use in patient care today. NNSA’s Y-12 National Security Complex has an ongoing commitment to provide Necsa with LEU to support the future production of Mo-99 at the SAFARI-I reactor.
South Africa also has led regional activities to improve nuclear security efforts in Africa. In February 2014, South Africa welcomed a Southern Africa regional seminar in Pretoria (co-hosted by the European Union and the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies). National authorities from South Africa and 12 other southern African countries joined in discussions on activities related to nuclear and radiological materials. The seminar highlighted new developments in the region’s nuclear activities, notably in uranium mining, and identified ways to address the challenges that these new activities pose to nuclear safety, transport and uranium ore concentrate [PHOTO 5] security, safeguards, and radiological source security in the region.
In addition, NNSA and its South African partners have cooperated on issues related to the implementation of international safeguards. For example, DNN provided a measurement system, along with associated training and maintenance, to develop Necsa’s ability to more precisely measure the quantity of South African origin HEU in waste drums to allow more accurate reporting of its HEU holdings to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). DNN also is providing a specialized system to measure the amount of uranium residue in byproducts of radioisotope production at the NTP Radioisotopes (NTP) facility. This unique measurement system is expected to be operational in 2015 and provides measurements in support of radioisotope production at the NTP facility, meeting International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards accounting requirements.
NNSA has extensive cooperation with South Africa in support of its efforts to strengthen the country’s export control system, DNN provided Commodity Identification Training-Instructor Training (CIT-IT) to the Republic of South Africa (RSA) and supplied South Africa with a “localized” version of a searchable commodity data base. For three years, South Africa has participated in a multilateral Technical Experts Working Group (TEWG), in which participants share best practices in licensing, enforcement and outreach. DNN (with the support of the Department of State’s Export Control and Related Border Security [EXBS] Program) will hold an outreach workshop at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in May 2015 to help the South African Department of Trade and Industry engage with its domestic industry partners. The workshop will include the participation of South African experts, a U.S., multi-laboratory team and a U.S. Department of Commerce expert. NNSA hopes that South Africa will continue exchanges in this area, either bilaterally or through regional arrangements.
DNN and South Africa also cooperate on efforts to further develop Necsa’s nuclear forensics capabilities. NNSA has provided several trainings to Necsa both in the United States and in South Africa, in coordination with the State Department. IN May 2015, NNSA will hold a course for Necsa staff at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). NNSA has also advised Necsa on the procurement of equipment and on the construction of a clean room for forensics analysis. This partnership demonstrated its value when Necsa was called on to analyze a uranium sample that was seized in Durban, South Africa on November 19, 2013. Scientists from Necsa and LLNL jointly published a report on that event. In addition, NNSA remains interested in working with South Africa on the deployment of radiation detection systems at key points of entry and exit in South Africa as part of its global effort to counter nuclear and radiological smuggling
In addition to cooperation with NNSA, South Africa is a participant in the Nuclear Security Summit process, attending each of the three Summits since 2010, and has collaborated with the UNSCR Committee to provide training in southern Africa. Finally, South Africa also engages actively with the IAEA in areas of nuclear safety, security and peaceful uses of nuclear technology. IAEA Director General Yukia Amano, speaking on March 18, 2015 in honor of the 50th Anniversary of the SAFARI-I reactor, said, “South Africa is an experienced user of advanced nuclear technology, a leader in many areas, and a valued partner for the International Atomic Energy Agency. Your country provides an excellent example of how modern technology can be used effectively to advance development and improve people’s lives. The IAEA is proud to have worked closely with you on your journey.”
This afternoon, NNSA Administrator Frank G. Klotz participated in the centerpiece side event for the U.S. Government during the ongoing Non Proliferation Treaty Review Conference that takes place every 5 years and currently is taking place at the United Nations in New York. Accompanied by Under Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller and Assistant Secretary of Defense Robert Scher, Administrator Klotz delivered remarks to an audience comprised of government and non-governmental organization representatives that focused on ongoing U.S. efforts in support of nuclear disarmament, nonproliferation, and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
Administrator Klotz provided detailed information on NNSA efforts to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the U.S. stockpile, and reduce the nuclear weapons complex footprint at the same time as right-sizing and modernizing the remaining infrastructure. He highlighted NNSA's commitment to transparency, the successful completion of the HEU Purchase Agreement, and ongoing work on technologies needed to verify nuclear arms disarmament. His discussion wrapped up with an outline of the support NNSA provides to the advancement of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy around the world.
In a question and answer session, Administrator Klotz and his colleagues responded to several questions pertaining to nuclear deterrence, operational readiness, clarifications of the Nuclear Posture Review (meaning of "safe, secure, and effective") and regional security issues.
NNSA along with DOE employees were recently recognized at the Department of Energy 2014 Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) Awards Ceremony for their support of the CFC.
DOE Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz kicked off the event with comments on the value of the campaign and he provided statistics highlighting the success of CFC. Vince Micone, chairman of the CFC National Capital Area Coordinating Committee, presented Secretary Moniz with an award for DOE breaking the $1 million mark during the 2014 campaign, one of only 10 Federal agencies to do so.
NNSA was recognized for the important part it played in helping DOE reach the $1 million goal. Thanks to the hard work of our NNSA Key Workers and the extraordinary generosity of its donors, NNSA was among the DOE organization’s credited with a CFC “President’s Award.” This award is given to organizations where either 75 percent of employees participate or where employees average $275 or more per capita donations. NNSA was also recognized for its per capita contribution level, an indication of just how extraordinarily generous its donors were.
Special recognition was given to NNSA headquarters employees Michelle Spessard for being the 2014 champion of the first “Long Hall for a Big Haul” contest and Mark Roman for spearheading the NNSA Key Workers efforts.
NNSA Key Workers and “Long Hall/Big Haul” Event Supporters for the 2014 CFC included: Lynn Ashby, Frances Baumgardner, Clarence Bishop, Sheri Bone, Shirley Derr, Derek Estes, Dameone Ferguson, Jason Gerbsman, Tim Groen, Melissa Hoffman, Michele Hutchins, Michelle James, Andi Kasarsky, Michelle Livingston, Ann Madison, Dishecal Manley, Don Murrell, Rich Person, Becky Ramsey, Patrick Rhoads, Taunya Riley, Mark Roman, Vanessa Scott, Vicky Sinkler, Zachary Stern, Suzanne Stewart, Rich Tannich, Yolanda Walker and Tommy Zavala.
About the photo:
At a separate event, Gen. Frank Klotz, DOE Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator, recognized Mark Roman, NNSA Senior Coordinator for CFC 2014, for his contributions to the campaign.
The NNSA and IAEA will host 44 students from 36 countries at the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico, from April 20 to May 8, 2015 for the 25th International Training Course (ITC) on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and Nuclear Facilities.
Recently, our very own Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Anne Harrington, and IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security Denis Flory participated in an opening ceremony to commemorate the 25th ITC.
The United States and the IAEA began this joint effort in 1978 to educate and train technical experts, policy makers, and nuclear operators from around the world on how to protect nuclear facilities from terrorists and other groups who seek to steal material that could be used in a nuclear weapon. NNSA and the IAEA co-sponsored the three-week course every 18 months.
For more information on the ITC, click here
A ceremony was held recently to officially recognize and swear in 15 women and men from throughout NNSA as Senior Executive Service (SES) appointees.
Being appointed to the Senior Executive Service is a significant accomplishment within the federal government. Less than five percent of federal employees are selected for this level of leadership and management. When the SES was created in 1978, the vision was to create a cadre of federal managers with solid executive expertise, public service values and a broad perspective of government.
The NNSA appointees include: William D. Conwell, Mark H. Dickinson, Timothy P. Driscoll, Michael S. Duvall, Randall M. Hendrickson, Edward L. Herrington, Jeffrey R. Johnson, Kent T. Jones, Marcus L. Lea, Keith R. LeChien, David B. McDarby, Lewis E. Monroe III, Natalie N. Nelson-Jean, Teresa M. Robbins and Jay P. Showman.
About the photo:
Gen. Frank Klotz (second from right), DOE Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator, swears in 15 women and men as SES members. Klotz was joined by Madelyn Creedon (far right), Principal Deputy Administrator, who helped lead the ceremony.
Personnel from throughout NNSA and private industry recently gathered in Oak Ridge, Tenn., to discuss lessons learned and brainstorm solutions for dealing with the aging nuclear infrastructure.
By focusing on successes in the public and private sectors, attendees were able to discuss the issues in three categories-maintenance, standards and requirements and risk and prioritization.
About the photo:
Y-12 employees Amanda Curtis and John Raulston chat during the NNSA Aging Infrastructure Workshop at Y-12 National Security Complex.
The U.S. Department of Energy recently honored a group of outstanding individuals for their efforts pertaining to the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Security Improvements Project (SIP) with the Secretary’s Achievement Award. The entire SIP project team is commended for utilizing a highly disciplined, cost-effective, and integrated approach to install a new Argus security system throughout all of Y-12’s high security areas.
“NNSA and the SIP Team demonstrated the power of teamwork in delivering this project under budget and ahead of schedule,” said NNSA Associate Administrator for Acquisition and Project Management Bob Raines. “The SIP is yet another example that final metrics of cost and schedule can be achieved when clear expectations are set, the federal and contractor site and headquarters teams are aligned, and all parties accept accountability for their role in project delivery.”
Located in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, the Y‑12 National Security Complex supports the mission of NNSA by ensuring safe and secure uranium storage, processing and manufacturing operations. Y-12 is operated by Consolidated Nuclear Security LLC, or CNS which includes Bechtel National Inc., Lockheed Martin, ATK Launch Services, and SOC, with Booz Allen Hamilton as a teaming subcontractor.
Read more about the Y-12 National Security Complex
In the photo, from left to right are Dave McDarby (Deputy Associate Administrator for Defense Nuclear Security), Mike Hickman (NNSA Director of Projects), Ingrid Kolb (Director, Office of Management), Eric Thompson (Federal Project Director), Antonio Leonardo (Project Integrator), and Paul Bosco (Director, Office of Acquisition and Project Management).
The NNSA Nuclear Materials Safeguards and Security Upgrade Project (NMSSUP) team recently received the DOE Secretary’s Award for Project Management Improvement. The NMSSUP project team was honored for utilizing a highly disciplined, cost-effective and integrated approach to execute capital asset projects.
NMSSUP was completed last year approximately $2 million under its original budget of $245 million. NMSSUP upgraded security at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Technical Area-55, a facility that houses high-security plutonium assets and operations.
“By delivering NMSSUP under budget, the NNSA and the NMSSUP project team demonstrated the importance of responsibility and accountability,” said NNSA Associate Administrator for Acquisition and Project Management Bob Raines. “Through focused attention to detail, and top to bottom leadership involvement, even a troubled project can be righted when clear expectations are set and all parties accept accountability for their role in project delivery.”
Read more about NNSSUP.
About the photo:
From left to right: Mike Hickman (NNSA Director of Projects), Ingrid Kolb (Director, Office of Management), Thomas Whitacre (NMSSUP Federal Project Director), Dave McDarby (Deputy Associate Administrator for Defense Nuclear Security), and Paul Bosco (Director of Acquisition and Project Management).
The current Sandia Weapons Intern Program (WIP) class recently visited NNSA’s Pantex Plant as part of the six-month program curriculum. While at Pantex, participants visited several operational facilities such as training bays, pit staging sites and firing sites. Currently there are approximately 24 participants in the WIP from various labs and sites across NNSA.
Since the program’s inception, more than 300 individuals from the nation’s weapons community have gone through the program. Through a combination of classroom study taught by active and retired weaponeers, site visits, and individual and team projects, weapon interns have honed their skills, broadened their knowledge base, and expanded their network of colleagues in the nuclear weapons community.
At the end of March, National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation (DNN) Deputy Administrator Anne Harrington delivered the 2015 Michigan Memorial Phoenix Project lecture at the University of Michigan (U of M). Deputy Administrator Harrington’s talk focused on the need for the policy and technology communities to work hand-in-hand to confront today’s nuclear security threats and anticipate and mitigate emerging technologies that could represent future risk. Comparing and contrasting the approaches of President Eisenhower, who served at the dawn of the atomic age, and President Obama, who serves in an era of evolving threats, Ms. Harrington drew on the programs that are securing thousands of kilograms of highly enriched uranium from around the world that were originally provided under the Atoms for Peace program, but that represent significant in a world that has to address terrorism and the ambitions of irresponsible. She shared examples of how far these two communities have come in joining efforts to set a course towards a safer world— a task made more challenging in an age when information and technology move at astonishing speed.
The University of Michigan is also the lead institution for a recently awarded $25 million grant from NNSA to fund the Consortium for Verification Technology (CVT). Her talk reinforced the critically important work of the CVT, which links the University of Michigan and thirteen other American universities with nine national laboratories to address technical challenges in nuclear verification and monitoring. The CVT focuses on several thrust areas, such as fundamental data and techniques; advanced safeguards tools for accessible facilities; detection of undeclared activities and inaccessible facilities; and disarmament verification. In each of these areas, graduate students are playing play a central role in interdisciplinary research projects led by faculty and laboratory experts who have demonstrated outstanding research capabilities and well-established collaborations.
As part of her visit, Deputy Administrator Harrington met with and observed the work of some of the more than 60 undergraduate and graduate students in CVT who perform research that will deliver new instruments and methods for nuclear nonproliferation, safeguards, and arms control treaty verification. CVT graduates will have strong ties to the national laboratory system thanks to the collaborative research projects in which they are engaging.
The CVT is one of three complementary university-national laboratory consortia sponsored by DNN’s Research and Development Office (DNN R&D), representing a total investment of $75 million (Fiscal Years 2010-2019). DNN R&D directs an integrated research and development portfolio in support of its mission to detect signs of nuclear proliferation and nuclear detonations. The DNN R&D-funded consortia have strong links to minority-serving institutions, are funded as five-year grants, and are viewed as important, long-term investments.
During her visit, Deputy Administrator Harrington also visited with additional researchers funded directly by the DNN R&D Program, including Professor Zhong He. Professor He is working to improve Special Nuclear Material monitoring and characterization with CZT, a radiation detection material that DNN has worked to develop for several years. CZT’s main advantage is that it can detect gamma rays with good energy resolution at room temperature, free of often-operationally-prohibitive cooling systems. Professor He’s work seeks to apply and extend the principles of nuclear medical imaging for national security applications.
Deputy Administrator Harrington noted in her speech that as we look towards the emerging technologies that will revolutionize the future, we must “develop and support the mechanisms that allow the policy and technical communities to work together creatively, to steer their application toward the beneficial, and minimize their harmful application.” The CVT is exactly one such mechanism, charting a path towards a safer, more secure future.
CVT Focus & Thrust Areas
Consortium on Verification Technologies
New Technical Approaches to Address Gaps and Emerging Challenges
This thrust area focuses on the physics of fission, data analytics, and data acquisition for high-throughput systems.
Physical data (like nuclear cross section measurements), and improved data acquisition and analysis techniques, are needed across the breadth of applications in treaty verification and other nuclear security applications.
Advanced Safeguards Tools for Accessible Facilities
This thrust area focuses on improved safeguards techniques.
Special emphasis is on neutron multiplicity counting (requires understanding physics of fission as above), developing hand-held gamma imagers, stand-off measurements using laser interrogation systems, and chain of custody detectors.
Detection of Undeclared Activities and Inaccessible Facilities
This thrust area concentrates on the non-cooperative side of arms control.
Research aims to improve our understanding of seismic signatures for nuclear detonation detection as well as infrasound (high frequency sound associated with nuclear explosions – even underground) and radionuclide signatures.
Additional work focuses on identifying and modeling signatures from undeclared fuel cycle activities.
This thrust area includes several approaches to disarmament verification.
Some techniques are focused on radiation detection, managed access simulators, zero-knowledge protocols, and limited knowledge transmission nuclear resonance spectroscopy (NRF).