NNSA’s most recent 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. These include, for example, 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.

Nov 15, 2011 at 11:00 am

Two NNSA supercomputers are ranked in the top ten of the TOP500 List of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. The list was released today.

Both NNSA computers are located at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL): Cielo is ranked number six on the list and Roadrunner is ranked number 10. Five other supercomputers housed at NNSA sites are ranked in top 26 of the TOP500 list.

As part of NNSA’s mission to extend the lifetime of nuclear weapons in the stockpile, the Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) Campaign provides NNSA with leading edge, high-end simulation capabilities. The ASC program helps NNSA to meet nuclear weapons assessment and certification requirements, including: weapon codes, weapon science, computing platforms, and supporting infrastructure.

Cielo, a petascale resource for conducting NNSA weapons simulations in the 2011-2015 timeframe, can achieve more than one quadrillion floating point operations per second. Earlier this year, the Cielo system was upgraded from 1.03 petaFLOPS (72 cabinets) to 1.37 petaFLOPS (96 cabinets). Cielo is operated by the New Mexico Alliance for Computing at Extreme Scale (ACES), a collaboration between LANL and Sandia National Laboratories.

Roadrunner has a peak performance of 1.38 petaflops and was the first supercomputer in the world to perform at a sustained petaflops rate on a scientific calculation. Roadrunner has a unique architecture that was designed to explore new computing technology, and is an important stepping stone to even larger systems in the future.

The top 26 include Number 15: The Appro Xtreme-X, LLNL; Number 17: BlueGene/Q, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL); Number 22: BlueGene/L, LLNL; Number 24: Red Sky, Sandia/National Energy Laboratory; Number 26: Dawn - Blue Gene/P, LLNL.

The TOP500 list is compiled by Hans Meuer of the University of Mannheim, Germany; Erich Strohmaier and Horst Simon of NERSC/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory; and Jack Dongarra of the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. To see the entire list, see: http://www.top500.org/lists/2011/11

Nov 14, 2011 at 4:00 pm

Annular Core Research Reactor

Photo by Randy Montoya, Sandia National Laboratories

The Annular Core Research Reactor at Sandia National Laboratories recently completed its 10,000th reactor pulse operation. The ACRR has been supporting weapons certification for more than 30 years. The first pulse was conducted in April 1979. The ACRR provides unique support to the NNSA and is the only reactor of its kind in the world with its special ceramic fuel rods. Since the shutdown of the Sandia Pulsed Reactor, ACRR has been a key component for qualification alternatives. The environmental testing performed at ACRR enables NNSA to be able to certify weapons systems with confidence each year without underground testing.

Nov 14, 2011 at 12:00 pm


In 1918, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day in the eleventh month, the world celebrated.  After four years of bitter war, an armistice was signed.  The "war to end all wars" was finally over.  In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11, as the first commemoration of Armistice Day, which in 1954 became Veterans Day -- a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

As the Nation celebrates Veterans Day, we offer our sincere appreciation to members of the military -- past and present -- and their families.  The courage and commitment of these Americans are an inspiration to all.

With over 42 million men and women who have served in our armed forces, chances are you know someone who has served.  Our NNSA family has always included many dedicated men and women in uniform, and we appreciate their contributions to our mission.

As you take this day off work on Friday, please join me in saluting our military members.  Take a moment to remember the contributions they have made to our safety and way of life, and the sacrifices they continue to make for all of us on a daily basis.  Our veterans deserve our gratitude, and we look forward to the day when those serving abroad will return home safely.

Nov 10, 2011 at 5:15 pm

A sharp eye and a lot of luck led to an interesting discovery at Pantex last month.

Workers excavating at the construction site for the new High Explosives Pressing Facility uncovered the jawbone of an ancient peccary, a prehistoric pig related to modern javelinas, but the discovery was nearly lost amongst the giant piles of earth.

“If we’d have taken another bucket of dirt out of the wall of that pit, we’d have never known they were there,” Don Lankford, contractor on the project, said of the bones. “We just happened to knock off for the day right there, and the next morning, the light was hitting the bones just right, and one of the workers spotted them.”

Lankford said the bones were imbedded about eight feet down in the walls of the excavation, with a color that nearly matched the surrounding dirt, so the proper light was crucial to the discovery. The bucket of the massive excavator would almost certainly have destroyed the bone fragments if it had taken another bite out of the wall of the pit, he said.

Plant Historian Monica Graham joined with plant wildlife biologist Jim Ray, geologist Mike Keck and other personnel to excavate the bones. Dr. Gerald Schultz from West Texas A&M University identified the bones as belonging to a Platygonus, an extinct genus of herbivorous peccary of the family Tayassuidae that roamed the area in ancient times. According to Ray, Platygonus were similar to modern species of peccaries (also known as javelinas) but were larger, likely reaching 290-360 pounds.

Platygonus became extinct at least 11,000 years ago, but the bones could be as old as 23 million years old.

BonesWork crews were able to move to other areas of the HEPF site and continue excavation for the foundation and flooring of the facility for several days while the find was dug out and catalogued. Work on the HEPF was not delayed.

“We were very fortunate to find the bones and to be able to get in there and remove them without impacting the schedule on the HEPF,” Graham said. “It’s a win-win for everyone when we can learn about the ancient history of this site at the same time we are ensuring the future with this new facility.”

The HEPF is a $65 million, 45,000-square-foot facility that is being built to modernize the high explosive capabilities at Pantex. Ground was broken on the HEPF in August, and construction is expected to take about two-and-a-half years.

Pantex has policies in place that govern the excavation of paleontology sites. Graham said plant personnel have quite a bit of experience with excavation, having previously recovered historical remains from a site located near Pantex Lake, a playa northeast of the site. The peccary bones will be preserved and stored along with other finds from the site.

Nov 10, 2011 at 4:00 pm


I’m excited to welcome you to the new blog of the National Nuclear Security Administration.  I want this to be a unique place for you to hear from some of the dedicated men and women who help keep our country safe, protect our allies, and enhance global security every day.

We have a lot of interesting content to share.  As we work to lock down dangerous nuclear material across the globe and execute our nonproliferation mission, we will give you an inside look at some of the challenges we face and how we overcome them.  As we continue to develop cutting-edge science and technology in support of our stockpile stewardship mission, we will share those innovations and what they mean for our national security.    And as we modernize our enterprise and make critical investments in our future – whether the MOX Fuel Fabrication Facility in South Carolina, CMRR in New Mexico , or UPF in Tennessee – we will share our progress along the way.  

This will also be a place for you to learn more about the important work NNSA is doing to prevent terrorists from acquiring a nuclear weapon, to prepare to respond to a nuclear emergency anywhere in the world, and to ensure that American sailors and submariners reach their destinations safely and reliably in ports across the globe.  

I’m committed to posting notes here as often as I can.  And I’m sure you’ll be hearing from Neile Miller, Principal Deputy Administrator, very soon.  

President Obama has laid out an ambitious nuclear security agenda, and thousands of people across the country are working hard to implement it as I type this.  This will be a place to tell their stories , and I hope you’ll read along.  


Nov 9, 2011 at 6:33 pm


Y-12 National Security Complex employees recycled more than 6,100 pounds of their personal electronics recently during Pollution Prevention Week at an on-site event. The materials were collected by e-Cycle, a local company that recycles or finds new homes (reuses) for electronics. 

“It was great to see Y-12 employees and subcontractors recycle their home electronics,” said Sustainability and Stewardship’s Jan Jackson. “Employees brought in their old personal equipment – hard drives, monitors, printers and fax machines that will now be reused or recycled properly.”

e-Cycle takes the items and reuses as many as possible; the company works with a local nonprofit organization that donates computer systems – free of charge – to needy families.

Items that can’t be reused are recycled. “Before we ship the materials off-site for reuse or recycling, we erase computer hard drives. We work with electronics recycling companies located throughout the United States,” e-Cycle's Marvin Peek said.

e-Cycle does not charge a fee for recycling the items.

The event was held as part of the Federal Electronics Challenge initiative of which B&W Y-12 is a participant. The program encourages federal facilities to purchase greener electronic products, reduce impacts of electronic products during use and manage obsolete electronics in an environmentally safe way.

Nov 9, 2011 at 4:00 pm

NNSA recently announced that it successfully conducted the second seismic Source Physics Experiment (SPE-2) at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). This seismic SPE experiment is the second part of a series of eight underground, fully-coupled, high-explosive field tests. 

The series represents a long-term NNSA research and development effort that aims at improving arms control and nonproliferation treaty verification; the experiment’s findings are intended to advance the United States’ ability to detect and discriminate “low-yield” nuclear explosions amid the clutter of conventional explosions and small earthquake signals.

SPE-2 included detonating a chemical explosive equivalent to 2,200 pounds of TNT in a contained, confined environment 150 feet below ground. Information gathered from this experiment includes high-resolution accelerometer, infrasound, seismic, explosive performance, and radio frequency data. This data will advance current, state-of-the-art strong ground motion and seismic wave propagation models and algorithms toward a predictive capability.

“These seismic Source Physics Experiments are significant achievements in the United States’ efforts to develop, validate and improve on emerging technology that will be used to assure compliance with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty,” said NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, Anne Harrington, “The work conducted at the NNSS and by the NNSA’s Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation programs serves to advance the implementation of President Obama’s nuclear nonproliferation agenda.”

The NNSA national laboratories have already used the data from SPE-1, executed on May 3, 2011, to refine and improve geophysical models and to make pre-shot predictions for SPE-2. The results of SPE-2 and all further experiments will continue to advance the national nuclear security strategy, across the whole of government. The Source Physics Experiments represent a U.S.-interagency wide endeavor, with NNSS, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories and the Department of Defense’s Defense Threat Reduction Agency all serving as partners in SPE-2. Each entity brings their expertise and resources to the experiment and all will share in the data obtained, saving the U.S. taxpayers the expense of conducting separate experiments for the various scientific disciplines that require these data.

Nov 9, 2011 at 4:16 pm

Los Alamos National Laboratory has completed demolition of its former Administration Building. Demolition of the 316,500-square-foot building that was home to seven laboratory directors was completed five months ahead of the original schedule and significantly under budget.

“After we removed all regulated, hazardous materials such as asbestos, our team was able to recycle about 95 percent of the building,” said Darrik Stafford, LANL’s project director for the demolition.

“At more than 300,000 square feet, this was a sizable undertaking,” added John Gallegos of the NNSA’s Los Alamos Site Office. “I am pleased with the results of this project.”

ARSEC Environmental, LLC was the general contractor for the demolition of the structure—four stories plus a basement—which opened in 1956 and closed in September 2008. Norris Bradbury was the first Lab director to occupy the building. Bradbury followed J. Robert Oppenheimer, the Lab’s first director. Bradbury was director from 1945 to 1970.

Project activities started in April 2009. LANL moved its administrative functions and lab directors in 2006 to the National Security Sciences Building, immediately northwest of the former facility.

Demolition of the former Administration Building also helps Los Alamos meet an NNSA directive to reduce its structural footprint, modernize its infrastructure, and provide LANL workers with safe, energy-efficient facilities. Between 2010 and 2014, LANL anticipates removing nearly 1 million square feet (including the Administration Building) as part of its footprint reduction strategy.

The site of the former Administration Building, in the short term, will become an open area to include sidewalks, low-maintenance landscaping, and parking for about 140 vehicles. Longer term, land also will be available for construction of facilities.

Nov 9, 2011 at 4:00 pm