WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) has begun reducing the inventory of special nuclear material at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. Special nuclear material, including plutonium and highly enriched uranium, is fissile material used in nuclear weapons and for research and development purposes at the laboratory.
"Consolidating material is one of our main goals to transform the Cold War-era nuclear weapons complex to be even more secure, more efficient and more modern. We are taking concrete steps to reduce the number of locations where we process and store significant quantities of nuclear weapons materials," said NNSA Administrator Linton F. Brooks.
The first shipment of material out of Livermore was recently completed in full compliance with existing safety and environmental authorizations. The material was sent to a secure site at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. NNSA plans to remove nearly all nuclear material from Livermore by 2014. A small inventory of nuclear materials will remain at the laboratory for research with overall security requirements greatly reduced.
NNSA's strategy is to reduce the number of sites and facilities with Category I and II amounts of special nuclear materials, which require the highest level of security. Consolidating nuclear materials and eliminating duplicative capabilities at facilities will allow NNSA to further reduce the total square footage set aside for weapons work at the eight sites around the country in the nuclear weapons complex, thus reducing resource-intensive physical security requirements.
Additional consolidation efforts are currently underway and planned across the complex. Facilities are being constructed to enhance security and consolidate highly enriched uranium at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee. Special nuclear materials will be removed from Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico by 2008 and from Los Alamos National Laboratory by 2022. Like Livermore, Sandia and Los Alamos will retain small amounts of special nuclear materials.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous 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 U.S. and abroad.
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