Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) has teamed up with the San Diego Zoo and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect desert tortoises in the area.  60 juvenile tortoises from the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center in Las Vegas were released last week on the southern end of the site. 

The tortoises, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, were fitted with special radio tracking devices so their movements can be studied.  Benefits of the study include identifying their preferred habitat features, assessing the health and condition of desert tortoises at NNSS, and determining causes of tortoise injuries and mortality.  The effort is part of a year-long study to help re-introduce tortoises back into the wild.

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Sep 24, 2012 at 1:00 pm

NNSA BlogSandia researcher Greg Nielson is “one of the 10 most promising young scientists working today,” says Popular Science magazine.

Nielson garnered one of the magazine’s “Brilliant 10” awards for helping lead the Sandia effort to create solar cells the size of glitter.

Past Brilliant 10 honorees have gone on to win the Fields Medal (considered the Nobel Prize of mathematics) and MacArthur Foundation “genius” awards. Nielson and the other 2012 award winners will be featured in the October issue of Popular Science, available in late September.

Read about Nielson’s work.

Greg Nielson, Sandia photovoltaic researcher. (Photo by Randy Montoya, Sandia National Laboratories)

Sep 24, 2012 at 1:00 pm

The Pantex Ordnance Plant began operations 70 years ago, turning out conventional bombs that helped end World War II and secure the world for peace. Pantex closed after the war ended and was reopened in 1951 as a nuclear weapons facility. Over the next several decades, missions from other facilities were consolidated at Pantex, which is now the nation’s primary facility for the assembly, disassembly and maintenance of nuclear weapons.

During the last seven decades, the plant’s mission has evolved greatly, but one thing remained the same: the pride Pantexans feel at fulfilling their critical role in helping to secure the nation.

As part of the 70th anniversary celebration last week, Pantex honored the thousands of current and former Pantexans, as well as the communities of the Texas Panhandle that have supported the plant. Last week, all plant employees marked the event with cake and a commemorative gift. That event was followed by a reception at the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce to thank community leaders who have supported Pantex over the years.

About the photos
From left, LTC William Czajkowski, executive director of the NNSA’s Office of Stockpile Management, B&W Pantex General Manager John Woolery, NNSA Production Office Manager Steve Erhart, Deputy Assistant Deputy Administrator for Stockpile Management Deborah Monette and Director of the Office of Nuclear Weapons Stockpile Joseph Oder enjoy a piece of cake at a celebration of the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Pantex Plant last Thursday. Workers across the plant celebrated seven decades of service to America with commemorative cakes. An evening reception with leaders in Amarillo celebrated the special contributions Pantex and its employees have made to the communities of the Texas Panhandle over the past 70 years.

Sep 24, 2012 at 10:00 am

More than 200 individuals on eight teams from Pantex have received recognition for their work supporting NNSA’s Defense Programs.

The awards recognize on an annual basis the contributions of work performed in support of the Stockpile Stewardship Program. The awards are given for significant achievements in quality, productivity, cost savings, safety or creativity in support of the nuclear weapons program.

Read about the awards.

Sep 21, 2012 at 3:00 pm

A $53 million state-of-the-art, international smart grid project has been powered-up on land belonging to NNSA in Los Alamos, N.M. The New Energy and Industrial Technology and Development Organization (NEDO) of Japan, Los Alamos County through the Dept. of Public Utilities (DPU), and Los Alamos National Laboratory hosted a ceremony to unveil a photovoltaic array, a battery storage system, a smart house, and a state of the art energy management system that will serve Los Alamos residents.

Los Alamos National Laboratory smart house

The project demonstrates smart grid technology and applications which contribute to international standards for energy solutions and minimize environmental impacts world-wide. Specifically, the project partners will show how to provide a significant proportion of renewable energy on the electric grid to meet a community’s residential needs, while making the grid more efficient and stable.

The smart grid facility consists of 2 megawatts of photovoltaic power constructed on a recently capped landfill (the first in New Mexico), 8.3 megawatt hours of battery storage with state-of- the-art controls, a smart house equipped with its own photovoltaic and battery system, a smart meter and smart appliances.

LANL smart grid ceremony

About the photo:
New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez, NEDO Chairman Kazuo Furukawa, U.S. Congressman Ben Ray Lujan, Los Alamos County Council Chair Sharon Stover, Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Charles McMillan, Toshiba CEO Norio Sasaki along with other key executives from major participating companies such as Kyocera, Hitachi, Sharp, Itochu, NGK Insulators joined in the event to power up the smart grid in Los Alamos.

Sep 20, 2012 at 9:00 am


During a ceremony held last week, the RightPath Integrated Project Team (IPT), a collaborative group of individuals from the Department of Energy (DOE) and NNSA, was awarded the Secretarial Achievement Award for its efforts to transform and modernize existing IT environments.

The IPT is made up of the following members:

Jared T. (Travis) Howerton – National Nuclear Security Administration – IPT Lead

Anil Karmel – Los Alamos National Laboratory – Chief Architect

Robbie Green – DOE Office of Chief Information Officer – Operations

Mary Helen Hitson – Y-12 Site Office – Cyber Security

Peter Tseronis – DOE Office of Chief Information Officer – Policy

In support of Secretary Chu’s vision to achieve management and operational excellence, the DOE and NNSA Offices of the Chief Information Officer established the RightPath framework and partnership to coordinate delivery of a robust set of IT capabilities. In doing so, the IPT created an impressive network of sub-IPTs and advisory councils. These groups develop IT business solutions, gather user requirements, streamline procurement processes, reduce spending redundancies, write policy and establish risk-based cybersecurity guidelines across the department.

Over the last six months, the IPT has worked tirelessly to coordinate efforts across the agency to align mission areas and cybersecurity needs with IT services and policies. The end goal of these efforts is to build a system and infrastructure that is cost effective, supports efficient operations, and ensures the cutting edge application of technology and creative solutions in a framework that provides flexibility.

The RightPath IPT is working hard to make these IT modernization initiatives a model for other federal agencies to follow.

Sep 19, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Construction of the Kansas City Plant at the new National Security Campus has included some unique building requirements in support of the national security mission.

Before operations begin at the Linear Acceleration Test Lab, KCP installed a safety steel cable mesh that can stop a 20-pound item traveling 240 mph inside a centrifuge.

KCP regularly tests materials in a variety of environmental conditions including pressure, temperature, acceleration and vibration to enable designers and product engineers to identify design weaknesses and failure modes before production.

The new National Security Campus will be move-in ready by January 2013. Nearly half the size of our existing facility, the new, state-of-the-art green facility will reduce annual operating costs by $100 million and cut energy consumption by 50 percent.

Safety steel cable mesh that can stop a 20 pound item traveling 240 mph.

About the photo:
A safety steel cable mesh has been installed at Kansas City Plant’s new National Security Campus that can stop a 20-pound item traveling at 350 feet per second (240 mph) inside a centrifuge.

Sep 19, 2012 at 9:00 am

B&W Pantex employees served barbecue to hungry patrons of the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce Good Times Celebration and Barbecue Cook Off recently. This was the 17th consecutive year Pantex has served award-winning barbecue at the event, which is a fundraiser and community outreach event for the Chamber. The Pantex Fire Department and other volunteers spend days preparing food that is some of the most popular at the event, said Debra Halliday, B&W Pantex community outreach coordinator.

Sep 18, 2012 at 2:00 pm

The July 2012 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 facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory, National Ignition Facility 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 Program to assess the safety, security and effectiveness of the stockpile. An extraordinary set of science, technology and engineering facilities have been established in support of the stockpile stewardship program.

Sep 18, 2012 at 9:00 am

Nonproliferation and border security training just got easier. Since 1997, thousands of border enforcement, military, and law enforcement personnel from 67 countries have been trained at the Department of Energy’s Volpentest HAMMER Training and Education Center in Richland, Wash. On Sept.13, a new, 17,000-square foot Field Exercise Building was dedicated there, making training even more efficient for the next generation of participants.

The new building will support the international border security and law enforcement training that Pacific Northwest National Laboratory conducts for NNSA, the Department of State, and the Department of Homeland Security. The State Department funded the $2.9 million building to train personnel to detect and interdict weapons of mass destruction. NNSA will also fund the installation of additional equipment in the building to support nuclear safeguards applications.

The new building enables all-weather training with all the equipment in one place. It’s large enough to drive vehicles into, for simulating port of entry checkpoints. The new facility will significantly improve the quality of the training provided, lower the cost of training, and extend the life of the training props.

Constructing, equipping, and operating the building represents the best in government organizations partnering to share a national asset. Most importantly, participants leave with greater proficiency in preventing dangerous radioactive and nuclear materials from being transported illegally across international borders.

About the photos :
As part of a training exercise, Ukrainian and Moldovan border security officials stand by to use detection instruments to find “smuggled” radioactive materials in a shipping container. The container triggered a radiation portal monitor when it rolled into the building on a semi-truck.

Nonproliferation and border security training

Nonproliferation and border security training

Sep 17, 2012 at 2:00 pm