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:
Securing Vulnerable Nuclear Material Worldwide: President Obama’s 2009 announcement of “a new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years” has placed NNSA’s nuclear nonproliferation programs in the global spotlight. In 2010, NNSA completed the largest highly enriched uranium (HEU) fuel return campaign in its history, endured an 8.8 magnitude earthquake in Chile to remove the last HEU from that country, and completed a large-scale campaign to provide secure long-term storage for more than 10 metric tons of highly enriched uranium and three metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium in Kazakhstan – enough material to make 775 nuclear weapons. In the fight to stop smuggling of nuclear materials, NNSA’s Second Line of Defense Program expanded its deployments, with installations completed at 64 targeted land border crossings, airports, and seaports around the world.
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.
For a photo gallery highlighting NNSA’s accomplishments, click here.
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.