WASHINGTON, DC – Special nuclear material quantities requiring the highest level of security protection have been removed from the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) Sandia National Laboratories, according to NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino. This move completes the first phase in NNSA's efforts to consolidate special nuclear material at five sites by 2012.
"When I became administrator I wanted to reenergize NNSA's consolidation efforts, which are a key part of an overall plan to transform the nuclear weapons complex into a smaller, safer, more secure and more efficient national security enterprise," D'Agostino said. "We reached our goal to remove the high-security quantities of special nuclear material out of Sandia seven months ahead of schedule, and I am thankful for the dedication and hard work of everyone involved."
Sandia National Laboratories is the first NNSA site to reduce its on-site inventory of nuclear materials below the level requiring "category I and II" protection. These security categories require the highest level of security to protect material that includes plutonium and highly enriched uranium.
D'Agostino said nuclear material consolidation is an important and challenging activity because of the kind of material involved, as well as the logistics with the sites that will receive the material. Other difficulties include obtaining the proper certifications for packaging the material, fully complying with all safety and environmental laws and procedures, and taking extremely high security measures before, during and after each shipment.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a separately organized agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the United States and abroad.
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