Thursday, October 20, 2005

Is the U.S. Getting Enough Bang From Los Alamos Tests?

Science Magazine, 14 Oct 2005, p. 218

A key facility for hydrodynamic tests faces questions that could impact a U.S. nuclear weapons complex in transition

Experts inside and outside the U.S. government agree that researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) are not blowing up stuff often enough....

.... But all is not well at DARHT. Completed in 2003 to replace an older, less capable instrument, the $350 million facility has missed a series of technical deadlines. A report last month by the DOE inspector general (IG) says the problems could delay refurbishment of the W76, a warhead aboard submarines that officials worry might be degrading over time. "Without critical hydrotest data, scientists lose one of their most important tools for evaluating … the performance of key weapons components and the reliability of the stockpile," says the new IG report. * DOE officials disagree with the IG's assessment, saying the hydrotest program is on track and has provided outstanding data this year. .......

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