Sunday, October 09, 2005

Nuke Programs Have 'Systemic Problems'

By John Fleck
Journal Staff Writer

When Los Alamos National Laboratory scientists in 1988 first proposed building an enormous machine to take three-dimensional X-rays of exploding nuclear weapon parts, they thought it would cost $30 million.

Seventeen years and more than $300 million later, it still does not work.

Some major nuclear weapons projects launched over the last two decades suffer similar problems, from a massive laser in California at least $2 billion over budget to Los Alamos' inability to make plutonium bomb parts four years after it was supposed to.


Full Story

DAMN! Livermore is beating our DARHT fiasco with their NIF! I hate being #2. We will have to try harder.

Sandia doesn't even have any projects like NIF or DARHT. Is that our future under Lockmart? No cost overruns! Whatever shall we do?
The author of this story, John Fleck, has made larger excerpts of the story available on one of his blogs,

I don't care to subscripe to ABQ journal to acces this article, but it sounds like "Weaponeers of Waste" a NRDC report from April 2004. A Google search for the title will find it.
Well, I *did* subscribe to the Abq. Journal online version a while back, just so that I could gather news references about LANL and make them available on the blog. One of my few actual dollar expenses spent on keeping the blog running, BTW.

While John Fleck's article and the NDRC story both discuss the costs of running the weapons production complex, and the associated cost overruns, their themes are somewhat different. The NDRC study suggests that a more conservative approach to stockpile stewardship could reduce costs. My interpretation of Fleck's piece is that it was suggesting that LANL and LLNL managers had discovered a form of job security, in that repeated failures paid large bonuses. Missed deadlines and cost overruns were simply paid for by the customer with no substantial penalties ever incurred.

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