Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Lab Expected to Get New Plutonium Unit

By John Arnold and John Fleck
Journal Staff Writers

A project to replace one of Los Alamos National Laboratory's largest and oldest buildings— an aging nuclear research facility with a history of safety problems— would receive its largest chunk of funding to date under a new Department of Energy spending plan.

A $30.5 billion Energy and Water Appropriations bill hammered out by House and Senate negotiators Monday includes $55 million for construction of a new Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Facility.

The existing 550,000-square-foot building, located in the lab's Technical Area-3, dates back to the early 1950s and is used to test and analyze plutonium and other nuclear materials. But safety problems, including a 1996 explosion, have plagued the facility over the last decade, and lab officials say it's been expensive to upgrade and maintain.

Lab spokesman Kevin Roark said the new building will be more efficient, more secure and much smaller— about half the size of the current building.

"Really, the driver (for the new facility) was we don't need as much space. We need a facility that's cheaper to maintain, and we need a facility that's located inside an existing security perimeter," Roark said.

The new facility, to be located with other plutonium facilities in Technical Area-55, will cost an estimated $838 million, according to Sen. Pete Domenici's office. In addition to this year's pending appropriation, Domenici, R-N.M., helped secure $40 million for the project last year and $10 million the previous year.

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Comments:
Well there you have it.

"The new facility, to be located with other plutonium facilities in Technical Area-55, will cost an estimated $838 million, according to Sen. Pete Domenici's office."

Are still any lingring doubts about the national plan to turn LANL into a plutonium pit production plant?
 
They're still low-balling the price. Inside estimates (even before the design is completed) are in the 1.2-1.5 G$ range. This could be LANL's answer to NIF.
 
"This could be LANL's answer to NIF."

I thought that was dhart.

Or ASCII.

Or the Enterprise System.
 
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