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Sensitive Nuclear Material Out of Los Alamos TA-18 Facility

November 02, 2005

Most now housed at the highly secure Device Assembly Facility in the Nevada desert

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Completing a process that began last year, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has successfully removed the most sensitive nuclear weapons-usable materials (category I and II special nuclear material) from Los Alamos National Laboratory's Technical Area (TA) 18 to more secure locations.

NNSA Administrator Linton F. Brooks said the nuclear material, which includes weapons grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium, has been sent to the Nevada Test Site, the Y-12 National Security Complex and Los Alamos' TA-55.

NNSA announced in December 2002 that the TA-18 mission would be moved to the high security Device Assembly Facility (DAF) located on the Nevada Test Site in the Nevada desert. Over half of the nuclear material formerly housed at TA-18 now resides at DAF to support the TA-18 mission. NNSA plans to have all nuclear materials (the less sensitive categories III and IV) out of TA-18 by 2008.

"It is important to U.S. national security that we have the highest level of security for our most sensitive assets, including the material formerly at TA-18," Brooks said. "This material transfer would not have happened without the cooperative efforts by a number of DOE and NNSA sites, including our Los Alamos Site Office and the lab itself, and the Nevada Site Office and its contractors. I am proud of the hard work and cooperation that went into sending this material to more secure locations."

The project began with the first shipment of TA-18 programmatic material in September 2004. Despite a seven-month Los Alamos stand-down, the relocation was completed less than a month after the originally forecast completion date of September 30, 2005.

The material transfer is part of Brooks' five-part initiative started in July 2003 to reinforce security oversight and strengthen long-term security operations in the nuclear weapons complex.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for maintaining and enhancing the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; working to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; providing the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responding to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Media contact(s):
Bryan Wilkes, NNSA (202) 586-7371

Number: NA-05-27