NNSA Blog

NNSA Blog

NNSA activities are vital to detecting nuclear explosions and helping verify compliance with the testing ban worldwide.

Recent developments at NNSA’s Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) will help NNSA meet this commitment. Using computer-generated models and field experiments, LLNL simulates how gases produced from nuclear tests leak out and mix with the air. Using this method, international inspectors can then locate and identify a clandestine underground explosion site within 1,000 square kilometer search areas.

This detection method is especially useful in cases when the site of the underground nuclear test is unknown, since gases from these tests can be carried by winds far from the point of detonation.

The new simulations take information gathered during field experiments conducted as part of CTBTO’s Integrated Field Exercise 2014 and combine it with new data generated by monitoring gases exiting old nuclear explosive cavities in different parts of the world. In addition to helping develop the computer models, the new tests reveal other potential indicators of hidden underground tests that are otherwise difficult to detect during an on-site inspection.

The new tests were performed as part of the multi-laboratory experimental effort, which is supported by NNSA’s Office of Proliferation Detection. Click to read more about the new LLNL techniques, and more about CTBT.

Apr 6, 2016 at 10:31 am

Members of the U.S. delegation, led by Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, were met by Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai at the Center of Excellence on Nuclear Security in Beijing.

In March, National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Principal Deputy Administrator Madelyn Creedon traveled to China to participate in activities related to NNSA’s cooperative engagement with various Chinese ministries on nuclear security.

Creedon was accompanied by Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator Dave Huizenga and Associate Deputy Administrator Art Atkins. They later joined U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, who was also in China for meetings with Chinese counterparts.

The trip was a great success, according to Creedon. “When it comes to nuclear security, the U.S. and China have a very good relationship,” she said. “I was pleased to visit with colleagues at Customs and the China Atomic Energy Authority, as well as others involved in bilateral efforts with the Department of Energy.”

As part of the trip, the NNSA delegation visited the Port of Yangshan in Shanghai to observe a demonstration of a radiation detection system installed by China’s General Administration of Customs (GACC) with the technical assistance of NNSA. The system is designed to detect and intercept nuclear and other radiological materials.

The Port of Yangshan processes the more than 35 million shipping containers’ worth of cargo each year, making it one of the busiest ports in the world. Currently, the system at the port scans all outgoing cargo for the presence of radiation. GACC, on its own initiative and at its own cost, is expanding the system to cover all cargo entering the port. In addition, it is deploying a similar system to the Port of Tianjin, near Beijing. 

“Our relationship with GACC is particularly strong,” Huizenga said. “They have been a model partner, working jointly with NNSA in the Port of Yangshan and embracing the importance of radiation scanning as a key element of preventing nuclear smuggling. We are encouraged to see GACC implementing and expanding this work to other Chinese ports at their own cost.”

Later in the trip, the NNSA team joined Secretary Moniz in Beijing at the official opening of the Center of Excellence on Nuclear Security (COE). Other attendees included Chinese Vice Premier Ma Kai and representatives from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the European Commission, and several Asian countries. The China Atomic Energy Authority (CAEA) hosted the event.

“When I took part in the groundbreaking ceremony two and a half years ago, I had high expectations for the quality and scale of this Center, and you have exceeded those expectations,” Moniz noted.

Creedon added, “The COE opening capped off the trip. This new facility is truly a world-class venue for nuclear security training and best practices engagement, and I look forward to NNSA’s continued engagement there.”

The center was announced in a joint U.S.-Chinese statement at the first Nuclear Security Summit in April 2010. It will serve China’s domestic nuclear security training needs, offer a forum for sharing best practices, and provide an international venue for demonstrating advanced nuclear security technologies. The COE is a significant Chinese deliverable for the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, March 31-April 1 in Washington.

The cost of the COE’s development was shared between DOE, the Department of Defense, and CAEA. China paid for the land and the facility. The United States provided technical advice during the design and construction phases and supplied some training equipment. Going forward, DOE and CAEA will continue to partner on curriculum development, train-the-trainer, and nuclear security best practices.

Creedon, middle by window, and the American group listens to a Chinese guide describe the training facility.

Secretary of Energy Moniz, and a group including Creedon (pink jacket) watch part of the dedication ceremonies.

Apr 4, 2016 at 3:00 pm

NNSA Blog

Radiological Assistance Program (RAP) teams from around the country gathered in Albuquerque in late March as part of RAP Training for Emergency Response (RAPTER). This training consists of an intensive series of drills conducted four times a year to provide recertification for members of Department of Energy (DOE)/National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) nuclear incident response teams.

“RAPTER ensures the readiness and competence of individual team members to respond to radiological events or emergencies,” said Jay Tilden, NNSA Acting Associate Administrator and Deputy Under Secretary for Counterterrorism and Counterproliferation.

RAP is the nation's premier first-response resource in assessing a radiological emergency and advising decision-makers on further steps to take to evaluate and minimize the hazards of a radiological incident. There are nine RAP regions around the country. Federal, state and local organizations including  NNSA, the FBI, New Mexico State Police and other city, county and state assets are participating in the Albuquerque RAPTER training.

Established in the late 1950s, RAP provides radiological emergency response assistance to the states, tribal entities, and federal agencies. The teams provide a 24/7 response capability for any incident or accident involving radioactive material. RAP Teams consist of federal and contract employees who regularly work with radioactive material at DOE and NNSA facilities.

The RAPTER program was created in 1994 to provide additional technical training needed for RAP Teams. The RAPTER class consists of lectures, capability exercises, and team response exercises.

Mar 31, 2016 at 11:00 am

From left, Sandra Caesar, NNSA’s M&O Contracting Branch; Ann Madison, DOE CFC Campaign Manager; Sheri Bone, NNSA CFC senior coordinator, Senior Program Manager in the Office of Cost Estimating and Program Evaluation; Sylvester L. Harris, Senior Strategic Planner for the Office of Defense Nuclear Security; NNSA Principal Deputy Administrator Madelyn Creedon; Jason H. Gerbsman, Executive Director for the NNSA’s Office of Defense Programs; Cheryl Brawner, NNSA’s Office of Emergency Operations; Michele Cohen, NNSA’s Office of the Chief Information Officer; Andi Kasarsky, Chief of Staff for the NNSA’s Defense Program’s Office of Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation; Saundra White, NNSA’s Office of Management and Budget; and Savannah Fitzwater, NNSA’s Office of Infrastructure Planning and Analysis.

In a late March ceremony, NNSA Principal Deputy Administrator Madelyn Creedon thanked key workers in NNSA’s most recent season of giving in the largest and most successful workplace fundraising campaign in the world, the 2015 Combined Federal Campaign (CFC).

Largely due to the efforts of 14 people, NNSA employees raised more than $200,000 toward the CFC goal of improving the quality of life for all, exceeding the organizational goal by 9 percent. Fundraising isn’t the main job of these key workers; their full-time roles range from human resources, to acquisition attorney, to strategic planning. But their relentless and often creative efforts to get NNSA employees on board for CFC giving made all the difference.

Over the past 50 years, the CFC has raised $7 billion to help neighbors in need around the corner, across the nation, and throughout the world. Learn more on the CFC website, and see what it takes to be a CFC Keyworker in the CFC National Capital Area’s video.

Other NNSA CFC key workers:

  • Bill Rosati, YN1(SS), USN, Naval Reactors Headquarters
  • Clarence Bishop, Associate Administrator for NNSA External Affairs
  • Leah Cochran, NNSA’s Office of Nuclear Threat Science
  • Matthew Butsick, NNSA’s Office of Counsel
  • Melissa Hoffman, Management Analyst, NNSA’s Office of the Assistant Deputy Administrator for Nonproliferation and International Security
Mar 31, 2016 at 9:00 am

NNSA BlogOn Thursday and Friday President Obama will host his fourth and final Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C. Leaders from 53 nations and four international agencies will come together to discuss nuclear security challenges as well as demonstrate measurable progress toward securing nuclear material and combatting nuclear terrorism.

Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, Deputy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, and NNSA Administrator Frank G. Klotz will participate in the summit and related activities. NNSA is responsible for implementing many of the commitments made at the previous summits and has provided technical assistance to help our international partners.

NNSA has supported the removal or disposition of more than 3,300 kilograms of nuclear material through the summit process. This required dozens of removal campaigns, each with its own technical challenges. In 2014, for example, the organization worked with Italy to remove 17 kilograms of highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium. NNSA experts had to create a process to convert HEU into a different physical form, coordinate shipments from three separate locations, and develop special plutonium packaging.

NNSA is uniquely qualified to take on these kinds of challenging projects in support of the President’s policy goals because of the scientists and engineers at our laboratories, plants, and sites nationwide. These specialists are the most powerful tool we have to reduce global nuclear dangers.

NNSA has provided many other forms of support to the summit process, including:

In fact, NNSA is able make the world safer in a more direct way by sharing its nuclear knowledge and expertise with international partners like the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Since 1980 all new IAEA nuclear safeguards inspectors have received world-class training from NNSA's Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Following previous nuclear summits, the people of NNSA have worked tirelessly to implement U.S. commitments: enabling international nuclear cooperation, bolstering nonproliferation efforts, enhancing nuclear safety, and ensuring nuclear security worldwide. We look forward to additional landmark accomplishments – and missions – originating from this week’s summit.

Mar 30, 2016 at 3:00 pm

From left, Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) Site Readiness Federal Project Director Eric Thompson; UPF Federal Project Director Dale Christenson; Deputy Secretary of Energy Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall; U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Huntington, WV, Program Manager Sherry Adams; and UPF Construction Manager Lynn Nolan, Bechtel National Inc.

NNSA was presented with two Department of Energy Secretary’s Achievement Awards at a ceremony in Arlington, Va., on Wednesday. The awards, presented by Deputy Secretary of Energy Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, commend NNSA on delivering the Y-12 Nuclear Facility Risk Reduction Project $5.7 million under budget and 11 months ahead of schedule, and completing the Uranium Processing Facility (UPF) Site Readiness subproject on time and $20 million under budget.

The projects’ combined savings of more than $25 million demonstrates NNSA’s improved delivery of major projects within approved cost and schedule baselines, said NNSA Associate Administrator for Acquisition and Project Management Bob Raines.

“These two projects are great examples of what NNSA’s project management culture is all about," Raines said. “Our goal is always safe, high-quality, state-of-the-art facilities that provide excellent value to the taxpayer.”

The team was commended for the under-budget and on-time delivery of the first subproject of UPF, which is DOE’s single largest capital investment in Tennessee since World War II and NNSA’s largest-ever construction project. UPF will replace the hub of the nation’s uranium processing operations.

Raines applauded the Y-12 Nuclear Facility Risk Reduction Project Team’s successful completion nearly a year ahead of schedule and $6 million under budget. The project replaced electrical, ventilation, steam, and cooling water systems in two Y-12 production buildings that dated back to the 1940s.

“This team’s success on the Nuclear Facility Risk Reduction Project allows NNSA’s Office of Defense Programs to ensure the continued safety, security, and reliability of our Nation’s nuclear weapon stockpile,” Raines said. “We are proud to have made two of Y-12's primary production facilities safer and extended their operational lives, thus maintaining the nation’s essential uranium processing capability.”

Learn more about the NNSA Administrator’s visit to Y-12 to celebrate the successful completion of the Nuclear Facilities Risk Reduction project, and learn more about NNSA Acquisition and Project Management.

 

Federal Project Director Anna Beard receives the award from Deputy Secretary of Energy Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall on behalf of NNSA’s Y-12 Nuclear Facility Risk Reduction Project.

Mar 30, 2016 at 3:00 pm

United Way contributions at the Pantex Plant and the Y-12 National Security Complex totaled some $1.1 million, Consolidated Nuclear Security, the managing and operating contractor, announced today. Contributions from employees, retirees and the corporation were gathered during the sites’ recent campaigns.

The campaigns also added more than 500 Leadership Givers, who have pledged to donate $1,000 or more.  Corporate gifts of some $155,000 also added to the total.

“Once again, we as Pantexans came together and helped improve lives in the Texas Panhandle,” said Pantex Site Manager Todd Ailes. “Through United Way, we are helping others to achieve income stability, education and health so that they may build a better quality of life.”

“I'm proud of the contributions made by Y-12 employees to the United Way,” said Y-12 Site Manager Bill Tindal. “Their generosity and dedication to this cause shows that not only do we protect our nation and our allies every day with the work we do, but we also are committed to supporting and improving our local communities through volunteering and United Way donations.”

Funds also were raised through special events, such as silent auctions, and the sales of jewelry, books and food items. More than $2,100 was raised at Pantex during a recent hamburger cookout.

Y-12 employee contributions to the United Way are distributed in 17 East Tennessee counties, while Pantex contributions benefit the Texas Panhandle region and equated to 11 percent of the overall Amarillo and Canyon United Way campaign.

Mar 29, 2016 at 1:00 pm

Several of the participants at the NNSA 1st Year Program’s training session took the opportunity to visit nearby Sandia National Laboratories while in Albuquerque. Gathered at the the Microsystems & Engineering Sciences Applications complex with a statue of Willis Whitfield, the inventor of the clean room, are from left: Timothy Alvarado (Nuclear Production Office), Hazel Rosenthal (Office of Acquisition and Project Management), Kerri Wilson (Nuclear Production Office), Ashley Wach (Office of Defense Programs), Rita Varley (Office of Acquisition and Project Management), Ryan Le-Doux (Nuclear Production Office), Randall Horst (Nuclear Production Office), Linda Vickers (Nuclear Production Office), in back is Jason Armstrong (Nuclear Production Office), Mike Sterling (Nuclear Production Office), Nathan Morley (Office of Safety, Infrastructure and Operations), Sarah Hammond (Office of Acquisition and Project Management), and Bernadette Kerkhoff (Office of Acquisition and Project Management).

Nearly 20 new agency employees participated in the NNSA 1st Year Program’s 2-day training session “Building Your Foundation” at the NNSA Albuquerque Complex earlier this month. The program is part of NNSA’s OneLeadership Initiative and was established to help integrate new employees into the organization and provide them with the tools, resources, and knowledge to become successful and productive. The onboarding program includes various activities occurring over a period of 12 months with the goal of improving employee performance, increasing employee engagement, increasing employee retention and accelerating productivity. The “Building Your Foundation” training session is offered twice a year and is geared to providing new employees with insights into NNSA’s mission as well as reviewing important information new employees need to know like the agency's Pay Banding and Performance-Based Pay Adjustments Demonstration Project and career development opportunities. In addition to information sharing and networking, the course is yet another way to officially welcome the new employee and help NNSA build a strong foundation for its workforce.

Mar 29, 2016 at 9:00 am

An NNSA national laboratory is taking advantage of California’s blue skies to power critical national security and science research. The solar power system installed at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) is now fully functional and producing electricity.

In 2015, NNSA announced the agreement for a solar electrical generation system onsite at LLNL. The power generated by this system will represent the NNSA’s largest purchase of solar power from an onsite facility. Solar commercial operations began on Feb. 17, roughly three months after construction began.

“This solar power purchase through Western supports national energy security, the clean energy economy, and climate change goals articulated by the President,” said NNSA Administrator Frank Klotz.  “NNSA is proud to contribute to these important goals and enhance energy security and renewable energy efforts at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.”

The Whitethorn Solar Facility generates 3.35 Megawatts (MW) on a clear, sunny day with expectations to generate approximately 6,300 MWh annually. Solar industry estimates indicate that 3.35 MW of solar power is enough electricity to power more than 600 homes.

Juwi Solar Inc. designed, engineered, installed and maintains the fixed-tilt solar photovoltaic array. The bundled renewable power generated from this system will be sold to the Western Area Power Administration through a 20-year purchase power contract, and NNSA will purchase the renewable power for LLNL and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

In the spring, NNSA’s Livermore Field Office will co-host a dedication and open house for the system.

Read more about solar power generation at Livermore on the LLNL website.

Mar 25, 2016 at 9:00 am

Scores of teenagers can be found waiting outside the Bankhead Theater in Livermore, Calif., early on Saturday mornings throughout the month of February, hoping for a seat to one of the city’s longest running feature presentations, Science on Saturday. The crowd gathers for stars, light and chemistry on stage – all part of science presentations given by leading researchers from NNSA’s Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and local high school teachers providing demonstrations to integrate the concepts into practice.

"The enthusiasm for the program is gratifying," said Dr. Joanna Albala, manager of LLNL's Science Education Program. “Many students attend all four presentations in the series, and the house is always packed.”

The lab offered its first feature lecture series in 1994 aiming to inspire interest and knowledge in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) among middle and high school students and the community. Admission to the lectures is free, with two presentations given each Saturday in the series. The Lab has also extended the Science on Saturday series to a second location at The Grand Theatre Center for the Arts in Tracy, Calif.

The presentations give students and the public a first-hand look into cutting-edge research being conducted at the Lab. The lectures have featured LLNL’s work on making medical diagnostic tools more usable, study of the planet Mercury, early life on earth and protection of livestock

The Science on Saturday series that began in February—themed “Women in STEM”—features female LLNL researchers discussing fusion, statistics, medical microchips, and LLNL’s recent discovery of new elements.

Many Science on Saturday lectures are available for streaming online from the University of California Television network. This service is available free of charge. For those attending in person, LLNL recommends attendees get in line early, as seating is first-come, first-serve. Directions, maps and a complete list of lectures are available on the Science on Saturday website.

Mar 25, 2016 at 9:00 am