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September 2012

B&W Pantex employees served barbecue to hungry patrons of the Amarillo Chamber of Commerce Good Times Celebration and Barbecue Cook Off recently. This was the 17th consecutive year Pantex has served award-winning barbecue at the event, which is a fundraiser and community outreach event for the Chamber. The Pantex Fire Department and other volunteers spend days preparing food that is some of the most popular at the event, said Debra Halliday, B&W Pantex community outreach coordinator.

The July 2012 NNSA quarterly summary of experiments conducted as part of its science-based stockpile stewardship program is now available here.

The quarterly summary prepared by NNSA’s Office of Defense Programs provides descriptions of key NNSA facilities that conduct stockpile stewardship experiments. These include some of the most sophisticated scientific research facilities in the world, including the Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory, National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the Z machine at Sandia National Laboratories. The summary also provides the number of experiments performed at each facility during each quarter of the fiscal year.

The U.S. Stockpile Stewardship Program is a robust program of scientific inquiry used to sustain and assess the nuclear weapons stockpile without the use of underground nuclear tests. The experiments carried out within the program are used in combination with complex computational models and NNSA’s Advanced Simulation and Computing Program to assess the safety, security and effectiveness of the stockpile. An extraordinary set of science, technology and engineering facilities have been established in support of the stockpile stewardship program.

Nonproliferation and border security training just got easier. Since 1997, thousands of border enforcement, military, and law enforcement personnel from 67 countries have been trained at the Department of Energy’s Volpentest HAMMER Training and Education Center in Richland, Wash. On Sept.13, a new, 17,000-square foot Field Exercise Building was dedicated there, making training even more efficient for the next generation of participants.

The new building will support the international border security and law enforcement training that Pacific Northwest National Laboratory conducts for NNSA, the Department of State, and the Department of Homeland Security. The State Department funded the $2.9 million building to train personnel to detect and interdict weapons of mass destruction. NNSA will also fund the installation of additional equipment in the building to support nuclear safeguards applications.

The new building enables all-weather training with all the equipment in one place. It’s large enough to drive vehicles into, for simulating port of entry checkpoints. The new facility will significantly improve the quality of the training provided, lower the cost of training, and extend the life of the training props.

Constructing, equipping, and operating the building represents the best in government organizations partnering to share a national asset. Most importantly, participants leave with greater proficiency in preventing dangerous radioactive and nuclear materials from being transported illegally across international borders.

About the photos :
As part of a training exercise, Ukrainian and Moldovan border security officials stand by to use detection instruments to find “smuggled” radioactive materials in a shipping container. The container triggered a radiation portal monitor when it rolled into the building on a semi-truck.

Nonproliferation and border security training

Nonproliferation and border security training

Thanks to research at Sandia National Laboratories, magnetically imploded tubes called liners, intended to help produce controlled nuclear fusion at scientific “break-even” energies or better within the next few years, have functioned successfully in preliminary tests.

The work, funded by Sandia’s Laboratory Directed Research and Development program and NNSA, has been accepted for publication by Physical Review Letters (PRL).

To exceed scientific break-even is the most hotly sought-after goal of fusion research, in which the energy released by a fusion reaction is greater than the energy put into it — an achievement that would have extraordinary energy and defense implications.

That the liners survived their electromagnetic drubbing is a key step in stimulating further Sandia testing of a concept called MagLIF (Magnetized Liner Inertial Fusion), which will use magnetic fields and laser pre-heating in the quest for energetic fusion.

In the dry-run experiments just completed, cylindrical beryllium liners remained reasonably intact as they were imploded by huge magnetic field of Sandia’s Z machine, the world’s most powerful pulsed-power accelerator. Had they overly distorted, they would have proven themselves incapable of shoveling together nuclear fuel — deuterium and possibly tritium — to the point of fusing them. Sandia researchers expect to add deuterium fuel in experiments scheduled for 2013.

Read about the liners.

Sandia researcher Ryan McBride

About the photo:
Sandia researcher Ryan McBride pays close attention to the tiny central beryllium liner to be imploded by the powerful magnetic field generated by Sandia’s Z machine. The larger cylinders forming a circle on the exterior of the base plate measure Z’s load current by picking up the generated magnetic field. (Photo by Randy Montoya)


NNSA’s Chief Technology Officer Travis Howerton, and M&O Chief Technology Officer Anil Karmel, recently participated in the VMworld 2012 conference in San Francisco. Howerton and Karmel delivered a presentation that detailed NNSA’s new cloud computing solution, YOURcloud, due to roll out later this year.

YOURcloud will provide NNSA with its own cloud computing environment to manage data more securely, efficiently and effectively. During the conference, both officials shared with several hundred people how they have worked with industry partners to leverage existing marketplace solutions to engineer a result that will cater to the agency’s specific needs.

In keeping with President Obama’s vision for a Digital Government, the NNSA Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) is working in partnership with the Department of Energy OCIO and other NNSA labs to modernize IT infrastructure, drive down costs and secure networks to better enable the agency’s mission.NNSA Blog


Here are some highlights from last week’s presentation:

YOURcloud’s service broker model: “Think travel search engine meets cloud server creation. Users will be able to input their server requirements into a dashboard tool developed specifically for NNSA, and then get options for solutions that best match their criteria sorted by price and performance. This will cut the traditional server spin up process from 30 days to 30 minutes, saving both time and money.”

YOURcloud service broker enclaves: “YOURcloud will provide a secure hybrid community cloud containing service broker enclaves. This ‘cloud of clouds’ model allows enclaves to be partitioned to allow an organization to use one cloud, while protecting sensitive data from users who lack the credentials to access the information.”

Members of NNSA Radiological Assistance Teams (RAP) attended intensive training classes this week in Albuquerque, N.M. In the exercise scenario, a vehicle deliberately crashed into the side of an NNSA Office of Secure Transportation tractor-trailer rig on Interstate-25 in Albuquerque. The training sessions are held four times a year. The training exercise involved OST federal agents, RAP team members from throughout the U.S., FBI agents, the State of New Mexico and Albuquerque law enforcement and fire officials. A team from the Argonne National laboratory Risk Communication and Management Center for Integrated Emergency Preparedness provided mock media support for the training. The training was coordinated by RAP Region 4 RAP federal team leader Kent Gray.

News Conference Prep News conference prep:  Members of the unified command at an NNSA Radiological Assistance Program (RAP) training exercise in Albuquerque prepare for a mock news conference to answer questions about the scenario.

Mock News Conference
Mock news conference: Pictured here (from left) are Johnafred Thomas, RAP Region 2 Team Captain; Doug Hildebrand, RAP Region 8 Team Leader; and representatives of the New Mexico State Police, the FBI and the State of New Mexico during a mock news conference.

For the 3,600 proud Americans working at Pantex on that fateful day, the events of September, 11, 2001, can never be forgotten. The impact of the airliners crashing into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and an open field in Pennsylvania reverberated at the nuclear weapons plant near Amarillo, Texas. The nation that Pantexans had worked to defend for more than 50 years had been attacked.

11 years later, in a ceremony outside the Pantex Fire Department, a memorial was dedicated that will ensure the memories of that terrible day will long outlive us all. Etched in marble, flanked by two quartz towers and topped with a piece of steel from the World Trade Center, the memorial to all who lost their lives in the attack has now become a permanent part of the landscape at Pantex.

“9/11 has become a day of special commemoration across our nation,” said B&W Pantex General Manager John Woolery, speaking at the dedication. “Taking the time to remember the tragic events and the loss of life has been woven into the fabric of our lives, and we should never forget that day.”

Pantex Fire Department Battalion Chief Donavon Morgan led the initiative to acquire the 100-pound, 42-inch steel beam that was the centerpiece of the memorial. The steel, which was sent to Pantex by the New York/New Jersey Port Authority, was placed on top of the 1,600 pound monument at the end of the ceremony Tuesday.

Mark Padilla, Assistant Manager for Programs and Projects with the NNSA Production Office (NPO), also spoke at the ceremony, capturing the emotion of Sept. 11.

“It is extremely appropriate that we place this memorial in front of the building that houses our first responders, because it serves as a symbol of our gratitude for the service they provide to this plant,” Padilla said. “It also serves as a bridge between our first responders and the first responders who gave their lives on that fateful day.”

The ceremony featured the Pantex Honor Guard presenting the colors and lowering them to half-staff, followed by the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance and a moment of silence for those who died. Following comments by Pantex leadership, Pantex Security Police Officer Jamie Johnson sang “America the Beautiful” before the steel was placed in the memorial. Two smaller pieces of steel in display cases were presented to Woolery and Padilla for display at B&W Pantex and NPO offices.

About the photos:
A memorial in honor of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks is dedicated at Pantex Tuesday. The memorial, which features a steel beam recovered from the rubble of the World Trade Center, was built in front of the Pantex Fire Department.

NNSA BlogA new website has been created that provides location-based radiation dose estimate reports for adults and children comprised of the Department of Defense (DoD)-affiliated population on or near mainland Japan following the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011.

Data for the Operation Tomodachi Registry was collected and provided by NNSA following the incident.

DoD-affiliated members who were in Japan during the nuclear reactor crisis, medical providers, and the public at large will be able to download location-based radiation dose estimate reports from the website. These reports include medical interpretations and provide comparisons of the Operation Tomodachi radiation doses with more commonly experienced radiation doses.  

See the registry for additional details.

The Weapon Intern Program last week held its graduation ceremony at Sandia National Laboratories. Don Cook, Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs, addressed the graduating class and thanked the interns for their dedication to the national nuclear enterprise.

The nuclear weapons mission requires the transfer of decades of nuclear weapon-related knowledge and experience to new generations of nuclear weaponeers. The program is structured to significantly accelerate this process.

Since its inception, almost 300 individuals from the nation’s weapons community have gone through the program. Through a combination of classroom study taught by active and retired weaponeers, site visits, and individual and team projects, weapon interns have honed their skills, broadened their knowledge base, and expanded their network of colleagues in the nuclear weapons community.

Read more about the Weapon Intern Program (page 4).

About the photos:
Don Cook, Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs, addresses the Weapon Intern Program.

Weapon Intern Program Graduating class.

Geoff Beausoleil, Sandia Site Office Manager, Jerry McDowell, Sandia Deputy Laboratories Director and Executive Vice President for National Security Programs, and Don Cook, Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs, attended the ceremony.