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Top Ten of 2010: NNSA Lists Year’s Ten Best Stories

Washington, D.C. – As 2010 draws to a close, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) today highlighted the 10 best NNSA news stories of 2010. From promoting some of the best science and technology in the world, to enhancing global security, to finding innovative ways to drive down costs across the enterprise, NNSA’s tenth year was a tremendous success.

“Without question, 2010 was a banner year for the nuclear security enterprise,” said NNSA Administrator Thomas D’Agostino. “From the men and women working on the frontlines of the fight to prevent nuclear proliferation, to the scientists and engineers pushing the frontiers of discovery, to the innovators working behind the scenes to improve the way we do business, NNSA continues to play a vital role in enhancing our nation’s security and making the world a safer place.”

In no particular order, the following are the ten best stories from NNSA in 2010:

  • Driving Cost Savings Across the Enterprise: In 2010, NNSA demonstrated its commitment to being good stewards of the taxpayers’ money by finding innovative ways to drive cost savings across the enterprise.  Through its Supply Chain Management Center, NNSA has saved more than $213 million since 2007 by using technology to improve procurement of common items. When Secretary Chu announced his effort to promote the use of cool roofs across the federal government, he highlighted NNSA’s effort to install more than two million square feet of cool and white roofs at NNSA sites across the country, which currently saves an average of $500,000 a year in energy costs and expects to save more than $10 million over the next 15 years. 
  • NNSA Sites Receive 16 R&D 100 Awards: At NNSA, cutting edge science and technology is at the core of its mission. In 2010, NNSA’s nuclear security sites received 16 R&D 100 Awards. Awarded each year by the R&D Magazine to the best technological advances at universities, private corporations, and government labs around the world, the R&D 100 Awards are referred to as “the Nobel Prizes of technology.” 

  • CT Scans for Nuclear Weapons: Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists teamed with NNSA's Pantex Plant to develop a cutting edge new CT Scanner to image nuclear weapon components, significantly improving NNSA’s ability to conduct its program to detect the impact of aging on critical components in the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile. NNSA Administrator D’Agostino called the new system “a prime example of NNSA's ability to leverage the best science and technology in the world to solve complex national security challenges.” 

  • NNSA’s X-Ray Toolkit Provides Cutting-Edge Emergency Response Capability: NNSA’s Office of Emergency Operations developed and delivered a new X-ray image processing capability to the nation’s emergency response community.  Developed using the unparalleled nuclear security expertise across the NNSA enterprise, this X-Ray Toolkit (XTK) is an application used by field responders and NNSA Laboratory experts to acquire, process, and analyze X-ray images obtained during a potential nuclear terrorism incident. 

  • Security Robots Improve Security While Reducing Costs: NNSA bought three Mobile Detection Assessment Response System (MDARS) robots to improve security patrols at remote portions of the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). These security robots, which are remotely operated from a command center at NNSS, will result in an estimated cost avoidance of $6 million in infrastructure investments for equipment such as cameras, towers, lights, trenching and burial of cables to support towers and motion detection units to support protection of remote sensitive areas.

  • Dedication of the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility at Y-12: In March, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu gave the keynote address at a ceremony marking the start of operations at the Highly Enriched Uranium Materials Facility (HEUMF) — the ultra-secure uranium warehouse at the Y-12 National Security Complex. HEUMF replaces multiple aging buildings with a single state-of-the-art storage facility and is a critical part of NNSA’s effort to transform a Cold War nuclear weapons complex into a 21st Century nuclear security enterprise.
  • Milestones & Innovation in Dismantlement Program: In 2010, NNSA marked several major milestones in its dismantlement program. Completed a full year ahead of schedule, the W62 dismantlement program safely and securely took apart the retired 1970s era warhead, which will never again be a part of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. At the same time, NNSA’s Pantex Plant began dismantlement of two more weapons systems: the B53 (which entered the stockpile in 1962 and was retired in 1997) and the W84 (a thermonuclear warhead that entered the stockpile in 1983). Pantex’s dismantlement programs benefited from innovations like a special tooling system designed to improve the processing time of the B83. The system, which will cut in half the number of facilities needed to process a B83 unit and reduce the time it takes to process each unit, is an example of NNSA’s commitment to leveraging the best science, technology and engineering in the world to safely and securely complete NNSA’s mission. Together, these technologies and authorizations mean NNSA can now work on all of the weapon systems in the stockpile. 
  • Introducing the First LEU Produced Mo-99 to the U.S. Market. As part of its critical role in implementing President Obama’s unprecedented nuclear security agenda, NNSA partnered with the South Africa Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) to introduce the first shipment of the medical isotope molybdenum-99 (Mo-99) produced with low enriched uranium (LEU) and approved for patient use in the United States. While the Mo-99 is an important example of a peaceful use of nuclear technology, the use of HEU in its production contributes to global proliferation challenges. The conversion of those production facilities to use LEU is part of NNSA’s broader mission to minimize the use of HEU worldwide.

For a photo gallery highlighting NNSA’s accomplishments, click here.

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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 in the nation’s national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the 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.