Tuesday, June 27, 2006
The Associated Press
June 27, 2006
WASHINGTON -- Energy Department officials want to quadruple the number of plutonium pits, or triggers, for nuclear bombs that can be made at Los Alamos National Laboratory.
National Nuclear Security Administration officials want to manufacture as many as 80 new triggers a year as part of its plan to build a new plutonium-research facility in coming decades. The pits provide the initial spark that detonates the weapon's thermonuclear blast.
Those two goals are as follows: (1) do not have a single safety or security incident at LANL, and (2) produce the pits on schedule.
The lab will quickly begin to migrate it's focus and workforce toward achieving these two goals. Everything else you hear is probably just commentary and noise to help make the troops at LANL feel a bit better about this new direction.
"Safe Pit Production" appears to be LANL's new chant for the coming decade. Feel free to start updating your LANL business cards and vu-graphs with the new motto.
cs350 maybe is unaware that Los Alamos has been a nuclear weapons facility dating back to 1943. Actually, Los Alamos was the first nuke weapon manufacturing facility when they built a couple of items called Fat Man and Little Boy. I'm sure cs350 has heard about these from his/her visits to the Bradbury Museum.
Perhaps cs350 is also unaware that the first U.S. nuclear weapons stocpkpile was stored in the cave under McDonalds....fabricated and tested by good old Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory. Perhaps cs350 should read some history.
Los Alamos has always been a nuclear defense facility and always will be. I repeat: ALWAYS WILL BE. If you believe D'Agnosto of the NNSA that plutonium will be removed from Los Alamos eventually, then I have a Bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. There have been discussions and planning about developing a nuclear park in and around TA-55 dating back many years. Actually it makes sense. Makes more sense than building a modern Pit Facility in Carlsbad, NM.
There has been talk about moving Pu from the LLNL SuperBlock and turning LLNL into a green lab for many, many years. I'm sure Boxer and Feinstein and the rest of the CA conressional delegation all now concur with D'Agnosto and support the idea that Pu should be moved from LLNL. Not in YOUR lifetime, cs350. I know Senator Pete and Bingaman will also support moving all Pu out of Los Alamos. (What have I been smoking???)
What can you say about guys like Jay Coghlan? Probably nothing positive. He has to be a Harvard graduate too.Myabe cs350 knows him. He certainly needs to learn about current events by reading the NYTimes. There he will learn (maybe) about countries such as Iran, N. Korea and the good friend of the U.S., Communist China, and how they support Los Alamos gettng out of the nuke business and going into a global warming mission. Maybe cs350 can get a stipend and do a sabbatical in N. Korea. They could use a few more Harvard graduates there working on global warming.
I normally don't intercede in the little spats that periodically erupt here, but I'm willing to make an exception in your case.
How about if you just pretend that you haven't heard of the blog for three more days? Your contributions do not add much, except to suggest that you have not fully ripened yet.
In other words, please go away.
Fat Man was one pit, Little Boy was another. However, with this new announcement from NNSA we are now talking about something completely different - perhaps an annual production of 80 pits per year, year-in and year-out. Let's get one issue straight. Most of the LANL staff are not anti-nuke. I have no problem with the idea of limited pit production at LANL. Five, ten, maybe even 20 pits per year. That's not what we are hearing with this latest announcement. This announcement is setting LANL up to be the Modern Pit Facility. NNSA just doesn't have the guts to tell that to us to our face.
Reflect for a moment on just what 80 pits per year might mean. Just the security apparatus for dealing with this much plutonium material on site will forever change the style of life at both LANL and the town site. The current brouhaha over the Security Perimeter Road will soon be seen as relatively minor compared to the types of security apparatus that will be required to secure this new level of pit production at the TA-55 facilities. And then there are the huge security concerns involved with transporting dangerous production materials into Los Alamos and sending all these completed pits out the front door. Are you beginning to get the picture? This is a very big deal, if for no other reason than the immense security concerns that could impact all of Los Alamos County on a daily basis.
Beyond the security issues, committing LANL to this level of pit production could easily cause most of the science at LANL to be overshadowed by the pit production factory. Making the pit quota will soon become LANL's over-riding goal for satisfying NNSA's requirements.
When you put it all together, it quickly becomes apparent that this may be something of which neither LANL nor the town site have experienced since the War Years. Like it or not, much of Los Alamos County appears destined to become Rocky Flats II, and the impacts are going to be dramatic. The Los Alamos you once knew, both at the lab and within the town site, could forever be changed, and probably not for the better. If you live or work within Los Alamos County, this news of NNSA's desire for greatly increased pit production at LANL should cause you grave concerns.
With hindsight, it is now beginning to appear to me that NNSA's recent push to build the Security Perimeter Road, the lock-down of Parajito Road, the RFP with its demand of "for-profit" management, and the subsequent selection of engineering firms Bechtel and BWXT to run LANL may have all been part of a larger, unspoken scheme to turn Los Alamos into the Rocky Flats II production facility. This recent news article only reinforces that suspicion.
In scanning the SWEIS, I found an equal or greater concern with plans to dismantle up to 600 ppy along with the production of up to 80 ppy. Both of these numbers are at least an order of magnitude greater than has been done at LANL. All this in a 30-year old facility that was designed for R&D.