Saturday, October 29, 2005

Interesting bit from John Fleck's Albuquerque Journal Blog

Excerpt from a longish post on the final Fiscal Year 2006 Energy and Water appropriations bill, which funds the U.S. nuclear weapons program for the coming year.


Linton Brooks, head of the NNSA, added a key element to the discussion last Friday when he told me in an interview that the agency was considering asking for additional money in FY07 for plutonium pit production at Los Alamos for RRW pits. That's a huge deal, though Brooks made an additional point that didn't come through in my story: The pit money for Los Alamos does not mean, he said, that the NNSA is abandoning the idea of eventually building a Modern Pit Facility - a big new bomb factory - somewhere in the future.

My take on this, shared by one of my smart 'splainers I was talking to this afternoon, is that there is little energy now behind the Modern Pit Facility, which will cost gobzillions of dollars. Once it's clear that Los Alamos can do the job in the interim, it will get likely get harder to move forward on MPF.


[In other words, once production-capacity pit production comes to Los Alamos, it stays there. --Doug]

"...once production-capacity pit production comes to Los Alamos..."

I would be real interested in what the differences are between Linton Brooks' definition of "production-capacity" plutonium pit production, and the actual current pit production capacities at LANL. Not that people at large will ever become privy to this info, since the LANL production data is classified. It is well known, however, that LANL has been quietly attempting to gear up its pit production capacity for years and may well already meet somebody's definition of being a production facility.

It seems that LANL management will do just about anything for money, and that for quite some time now the science mission has taken a distant back seat to anything that brings in mega bucks. Like plutonium pit production.
If true, do you realize what damage that does to Los Alamos National LABORATORY? (Emphasis is intended to differentiate--discriminate even--from FACTORY.) Now, the tough question: How many staff members at LANL care? (We need not ask how many Congresspersons care.)

What do you think would be the results of a poll conducted of every resident of Los Alamos, White Rock, Santa Fe, and Espanola, if the question were:

"Would you like to see LANL turned in to a Plutonium pit production factory?"

You begin to sound like one of the LANL managers (whose backsides we should soon be seeing) that would do anything for money.
Doug, "Lucky" has just posted actual pit production numbers in his post (8:54 AM).
What's the classification level of this information? Has "Lucky" just run over the
grey line? If so, then I suggest you take careful take note of his IP address.
"Lucky" may have just run out of luck.
Thanks StickyBuns. It figures that somebody would pick a day when I was out of town to exercise such poor judgement regarding whether material is appropriate for posting on this blog. I deleted the post this afternoon as soon as I saw it and your note about it. I do, in fact have the access log of all IP address connections to the blog for the time period of the post.

If the material was indeed classified, can provide the FBI with "Lucky's" contact information as well.

Good question about how many staff members care. Don't know the answer currently, but I suspect it will be a decreasing function of time.
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