Thornberry hosts House Majority Leader at Pantex visit

Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, hosted Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-CA, at both Pantex and Bell Helicopter in Amarillo recently to discuss the Texas Panhandle’s role in national security.

At Pantex, Thornberry and McCarthy viewed the High Explosives Pressing Facility along with the locations where nuclear weapons are assembled, disassembled and stored.

“I especially wanted him [McCarthy] to come to the Panhandle to see the contributions we make to national security,” Thornberry said in a statement to the press.

McCarthy is currently the second ranking Republican serving in the House of Representatives and was first elected to Congress in 2006. Thornberry has served continuously since 1995 and currently is the Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, the first Texan to hold this position. 

Oct 26, 2015 at 11:00 pm

Current and former members of the Lab’s Protective Force gathered to reflect on and recognize the contributions ProForce has made to securing Sandia National Laboratory’s resources, facilities, and people. Over the past 65 years, the force has changed in size and structure but its mission has remained the same: To ensure the protection of accountable nuclear material, classified matter, and other Safeguards and Security interests from theft, espionage, and acts that may cause unacceptable adverse effects on national security or the health and safety of DOE and contractor employees, the public, or the environment.

Jim Armijo, a retired member of ProForce, and son Lawrence Armijo show pride in their collective decades of service to Sandia and the nation. 

Retired ProForce members Celso Montaño, left, Mario Garcia, Jim Armijo, and Ruben Garcia look on as Harold Garcia points out some highlights in photos from ProForce’s early days. 

Oct 25, 2015 at 11:00 pm

Mark Meyer, training coordinator and field engineer at Sandia.
Mark Meyer, training coordinator and field engineer at Sandia National Laboratories.

Over the past five years, Mark Meyer, training coordinator and field engineer at Sandia National Laboratories, has introduced thousands of people across the Department of Energy and Department of Defense nuclear enterprise to the inner workings of U.S. nuclear weapons.

Using Sandia’s realistic trainers for every enduring stockpile weapon, Meyer’s training provides the technical, hands-on information needed to operate, maintain, and securely store the weapons in the current U.S. nuclear stockpile. It focuses on orienting students to the nuclear weapons enterprise, on stockpile maintenance and sustainment and providing background information on stockpile logistics and operations.

Students include those serving in the U.S. Navy and Air Force whose responsibilities include operating and maintaining stockpile weapons, plus employees from a variety of agencies across the DoD and NNSA weapons enterprise.

 “They can’t train on actual stockpile weapons, so this is the best way to for them to improve their proficiency: non-functioning trainers,” Meyer said. “We strive to make our trainers as realistic as possible, including frequently updating them with new components when changes are made in stockpile weapons.”

Sandia has offered the Military Liaison Nuclear Weapons Training course in some form since the 1940s. Meyer estimated that he’s trained more than 6,000 people since he came to Sandia from a career with the Air Force, including support for missile operations at Malmstrom Air Force Base in Montana.

Meyer also was lead field engineer for the W87 and backup field engineer for the W78, and led a team of technical experts to troubleshoot and repair a critical high fidelity Joint Test Assembly re-entry vehicle. His efforts kept the ICBM Joint Flight Test program on schedule and resulted in the first-ever successful launch on the Minuteman III.

Oct 19, 2015 at 9:00 am

The W80-4 mechanical team at Sandia National Laboratories reviews results.
The W80-4 mechanical team at Sandia National Laboratories reviews the results of thermal analysis. From the top center, counterclockwise, are Ryan Johnson, Bryn Miyahara, Alvin Leung and Matt H. Jones.

Sandia National Laboratories is doing what it hasn’t done in decades: extending the life of a nuclear warhead at the same time the U.S. Air Force develops a replacement cruise missile that will carry the weapon.

The goal of the W80-4 Life Extension Program (LEP) is refurbishing the W80 warhead with replacement components for aging technology and components that have limited lifespans. Sandia’s California site is responsible for development of non-nuclear components and subsystems and for systems integration. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is responsible for the refurbishment of the nuclear explosive package and joint development of detonators with safety features.

Read more.

Oct 16, 2015 at 9:00 am

Pantex engineers and scientists attended the event.
Pantex industrial engineer Natalie Waters, Ph.D., was a keynote speaker at the Louise Daniel Women’s History Luncheon. Pantex scientists and engineers attending the event included (from left) Rachel Ehler, Hannah Pemberton, Isela Galan, Erin Robinson, Raquel Barrera-Chavez, Halianne Crawford, Waters, Brandy Ramirez, Meagan Brown, Courtney Waddell, Karishma Myers, Jessie Phifer, Zelda Martinez and Ava Azores.

Since the 1940s when they traded in their aprons for coveralls and gas masks, women have played a key role at the Pantex Plant. To honor their past contributions and celebrate the work they currently perform, Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC was a corporate sponsor of the recent 2015 Louise Daniel Women’s History Luncheon and Women’s Equality Day Celebration.

The sponsorship was fitting because this year’s event highlighted the work done by women in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

Natalie Waters, a Pantex industrial engineer, spoke about the history of local women in STEM and presented a vignette about female STEM professionals at Pantex.

“Young girls and women who live in the Panhandle today should be proud of the women pioneers who worked hard, paved the way and excelled in their STEM fields,” said Waters.

Read more about the joint resolution on the Pantex website

Oct 15, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Sandia National Laboratories chemist Mark Allendorf

Sandia National Laboratories chemist Mark Allendorf, shown here at Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source facility, is leading the Hydrogen Materials – Advanced Research Consortium (HyMARC) to advance solid-state materials for onboard hydrogen storage.

Sandia National Laboratories will lead a new tri-lab consortium to address unsolved scientific challenges in the development of viable solid-state materials for storage of hydrogen onboard vehicles. Better onboard hydrogen storage could lead to more reliable and economic hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

Called the Hydrogen Materials – Advanced Research Consortium (HyMARC), the program is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Fuel Cell Technologies Office within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at $3 million per year for three years, with the possibility of renewal. In addition to Sandia, the core team includes Lawrence Livermore and Lawrence Berkeley national laboratories.

The consortium will address the gaps in solid-state hydrogen storage by leveraging recent advances in predictive multiscale modeling, high-resolution in situ characterization and material synthesis.

Read more

Oct 15, 2015 at 12:00 pm

The management and operating contractor for the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) Nevada National Security Site, has been recognized for having one of the cleanest, most fuel-efficient vehicle fleets in the nation.

Competing with more than 38,000 public fleets, National Security Technologies' (NSTec) Fleet, Fuel & Equipment Service operation was rated 4th by the 2015 100 Best Fleets, Green Fleet Awards organization, which tracks and rates the performance of vehicle fleets throughout the continent.

To be recognized for having a top fleet, a company must demonstrate vision, outstanding operations, and strategic planning toward the future environmental role of fleet that other public fleets can emulate; reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, and fleet composition demonstrating a commitment to alternative fuel vehicles such as hybrid vehicles, plug-in electric vehicles and alternative fueled vehicles. Candidates must also demonstrate fleet utilization goals that validate a strong commitment to a “green” approach toward keeping the environment clean.

 NSTec’s fleet is comprised of 960 vehicles, ranging from sedans to large trucks. More than 40 of them are alternative-fueled or plug-in electric vehicles.

“Congratulations all. This is quite an accomplishment!” said Jim McConnell, Assistant Administrator for Safety, Infrastructure and Operations for NNSA.

Oct 9, 2015 at 2:02 pm


The NNSA Livermore Field Office in California donated over 4,000 pounds of food to local food banks, food pantries and other local groups in support of the 2015 Feds Feed Families campaign. As part of the campaign LFO staff, family and friends worked with The Urban Farmers to pick 600 pounds of apples for donation to local organizations. Urban Farmers is an all-volunteer, non-profit that harvests fresh backyard fruit for donation to those in need. 

Oct 9, 2015 at 8:00 am

NNSA BlogSandia National Laboratories post-doctoral fellow Stan Chou demonstrates the reaction of more efficiently catalyzing hydrogen. In this simulation, the color is from dye excited by light and generating electrons for the catalyst molybdenum disulfide to evolve hydrogen.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —Sandia National Laboratories researchers seeking to make hydrogen a less expensive fuel for cars have upgraded a plentiful catalyst nearly as cheap as dirt — molybdenum disulfide, “molly” for short — to stand in for platinum, a rare element with the moonlike price of $1,500 a gram.

Simple Sandia-induced changes take the 37-cents-a-gram molly from being a welterweight outsider in the energy-catalyst field — put crudely, a lazy bum that never amounted to much — to a possible contender with the heavyweight champ.

The catalyst’s action can be triggered by sunlight, which eventually may provide users an off-the-grid means of securing hydrogen fuel.

To learn more, click here.

Oct 7, 2015 at 12:00 pm


Brigadier General Stephen L. Davis, NNSA’s Acting Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs, gets a lesson on how to drive a Safeguards Transporter during a recent visit to the Office of Secure Transportation (OST) headquarters in Albuquerque, New Mexico. OST is responsible for transporting nuclear weapons, components and special nuclear materials to Department of Energy and Department of Defense customers throughout the nation.


After his driving lesson at a training pad, General Davis poses outside the vehicle with his instructors and OST management. From left, they are: William Vigil, Senior Federal Agent; Angel Hernandez, Squad Commander; General Davis; Isaiah Bullock, Senior Federal Agent; Mark Jackson, OST Acting Deputy Assistant Deputy Administrator; Fred Roberts, Deputy Director Facility; and Kerry Clark, OST Acting Assistant Deputy Administrator.

Oct 6, 2015 at 7:00 am