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Posted By Office of Public Affairs

Pantex Security Police Officers Byron Logan and Randy Stokes completed their annual Run Against Hunger last week. The two officers ran and biked approximately 50 miles Friday to raise awareness of the problem of hunger in the Texas Panhandle and to raise money for the High Plains Food Bank.

On the route, Logan and Stokes stopped talk to the students from Highland Park High School in Amarillo, Texas, about the importance of getting involved to address community problems.

Pantex runs against hunger

Pantex runs against hunger

Posted on December 18, 2013 at 3:00 pm ET
Posted By Office of Public Affairs

Preparing the Nuclear Security Science Minds of TomorrowOn a recent Saturday at the Department of Energy, 45 Boy and Girl Scouts earned their Science Merit Badges/Patches, thanks to the Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation R&D staff that held an annual class for the scouts. Sponsored by the Energy Information Administration, the class covered the basics of nuclear science from elementary particles to nuclear power generation. Mini-courses, coordinated by Dr. Arden Dougan, included topics on electricity, energy, and nuclear science. The scouts took part in hands-on activities such as building an electroscope to detect charge, completing a circuit, using a Geiger counter, building atom models, and locating their nearest nuclear power plant.

Eight members of DNN R&D (and several of their family members), along with other DOE, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) employees taught the courses that were designed for kids aged 12 to 18. The American Nuclear Society provided informational handouts and Geiger counters that the scouts could take home after the event.

A high point of the day was the demonstration of the “mousetrap reactor” on loan from NIST.  The reactor simulated nuclear fission through the collision of ping pong balls placed atop mouse traps.  When the first trap was set off, the scouts were able to observe a visual representation of an atomic chain reaction. 

You can view the photos and blog from the event here. Additional resources for nuclear science education can be at the following websites:

Preparing the Nuclear Security Science Minds of Tomorrow

Posted on December 17, 2013 at 11:00 am ET
Posted By Office of Public Affairs

This week, NNSA is highlighting its nonproliferation programs that have supported efforts to secure vulnerable nuclear material around the world. In support of President Obama’s Four Year Effort, the Office of International Material Protection and Control (IMPC) works with partner countries to establish a first line of defense that secures warheads and weapons-usable nuclear materials at their source, and a second line of defense at strategic border crossing points, ports, and other locations to deter and detect the illicit transfer of nuclear materials. IMPC’s two complementary programs – Material Protection, Control and Accounting (MPC&A) and Second Line of Defense (SLD)—work with partner countries to: significantly increase the security of vulnerable stockpiles of nuclear weapons and weapons-usable nuclear material (WUNM); reduce the quantity of WUNM by downblending non-weapons-origin HEU into LEU; consolidate nuclear materials into fewer, more defensible, and more sustainable secure locations; and improve the deterrence, detection, and interdiction of illicit trafficking of nuclear and radiological materials. 

As part of the Four Year Effort, the MPC&A Program is working collaboratively with our partners to complete security upgrades at nuclear facilities in Russia and the former Soviet Union, and is supporting the downblending of HEU to LEU so that the material can no longer be used for nuclear weapons.  The MPC&A Program is also working with China to establish a Center of Excellence for nuclear security best practices training in China, and with India to incorporate nuclear security elements into India's Global Centre of Nuclear Energy Partnership.  The SLD Program has deployed thousands of fixed radiation portal monitors at hundreds of sites and dozens of mobile detection units around the world.

IMPC also works to  improve partner countries’ nuclear security infrastructure at the site and national level by improving countries’ regulations and procedures, inspections, training, maintenance capabilities, performance testing, life-cycle planning, and nuclear security culture.  A recipient country’s capability to secure, reduce, and interdict nuclear materials must be sustained by that country over the long term.

Click here to read more about President Obama’s Four-Year Effort to secure vulnerable nuclear material around the world.

IMPC began in 1994 as a task force to mitigate the security vulnerabilities of special nuclear material arising from the collapse of the Soviet Union.  Since that time, the program has evolved into a global effort, engaging over 50 countries to deny terrorists the vital materials needed to engage in acts of nuclear terror.

Posted on December 12, 2013 at 5:35 pm ET
Posted By Office of Public Affairs

NNSA Defense Programs today presented hundreds of toys to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve as part of their Toys for Tots Program. The unwrapped toys were donated by employees throughout Forrestal Building. Don Cook, Deputy Administrator for NNSA’s Defense Programs, presented the toys to the Marines at the annual DP holiday party. Dr. Cook thanked everyone who participated in the program and commended the Marines for their commitment to the country and for spearheading the toy drive each year.

NNSA DP does it again! Collects boxes and boxes of toys

Posted on December 12, 2013 at 5:00 pm ET
Posted By Office of Public Affairs

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory employees, along with Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC (LLNS), have raised $3.3 million to give to charities within their surrounding communities.

Laboratory employees pledged $2.3 million to the HOME (Helping Others More Effectively) Campaign - an annual charitable drive that benefits community/nonprofit agencies in the Tri Valley, San Joaquin Valley, Greater Bay Area and beyond. In addition, Lawrence Livermore National Security, LLC, which manages the Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy, announced it would donate $1 million in matching funds.

See more.

 Lawrence Livermore raises $3.3 million for local organizations

Posted on December 12, 2013 at 4:00 pm ET
Posted By Office of Public Affairs

Four scientists have been inducted into the Los Alamos National Laboratory Fellows, a distinguished organization that honors outstanding contributions to science and technology. Today, Laboratory Director Charles McMillan appoints new Fellows Mark Chadwick, Cheryl Kuske, Geoff Reeves and Frank Pabian.

The fellows are lauded for their sustained, high-level achievements and exceptional promise. Fewer than two percent of the Lab’s technical staff attain fellow status, and for 30 years the fellows’ organization has helped guide the laboratory’s scientific direction. The fellows also organize symposia and public lectures and administer prizes for outstanding research and leadership in science and engineering.

See more.

Clockwise from top left: Chadwick, Pabian, Kuske, and Reeves.

Los Alamos names four to Laboratory Fellows list

Posted on December 11, 2013 at 5:00 pm ET
Posted By Office of Public Affairs

Continuing with this week’s coverage of nonproliferation programs that supported President Obama’s Four-Year Effort, NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) describes the various challenges they faced during operations to remove and secure vulnerable nuclear material around the world. GTRI was at the forefront of implementing the President’s Four-Year Effort, and completion required the hard work and dedication of hundreds of individuals from DOE, the national laboratories, the U.S. federal government and international partners in 27 countries.

The completion of a typical nuclear material removal or elimination project includes a variety of political, technical, and regulatory activities. Throughout this effort, GTRI and its partners overcame several significant technical obstacles. The program’s noteworthy technical achievements included several firsts, including:

  • The first international transport of spent fuel by air, the first transport of both separated plutonium and non-U.S.–origin spent fuel to the United States;
  • The first known reuse of previously irradiated research reactor fuel;
  • The development of new processes and procedures to stabilize plutonium and convert uranium solutions to solid oxide;
  • The first international validation of a U.S DOE–designed Type B nuclear materials package for plutonium; and
  • The development of the first Type C cask to be used for the air transport of spent nuclear fuel.

Culmination of the Four-Year Effort: Overcoming Obstacles to Securing Nuclear MaThese achievements allowed GTRI to address additional forms of nuclear material and accelerate activities to remove material more quickly to achieve the goals laid out in the Four-Year Effort.

In addition, the program had to overcome numerous bureaucratic obstacles (often before or during a shipment), including having a shipment canceled by the foreign government after the spent fuel had been packaged and was ready for transport, having overflight permits canceled at the last minute, and having a transit permit canceled while a shipment was ongoing. In each case, GTRI and its partners were able to quickly implement contingency plans to ensure shipments were completed successfully.

Finally, GTRI and its partners overcame environmental impediments, such as an earthquake in Chile three days before a shipment, a blizzard in Russia that closed airports, and a typhoon that jeopardized a shipment from Vietnam.

In all cases, to make the President’s words reality, the task required the technical expertise, creativity, flexibility, perseverance, teamwork, and dedication of the hundreds of people who worked across the globe on the Four-Year Effort. The world now is a safer place because of their contributions.

Click here to read highlights of GTRI’s contributions to President Obama’s Four-Year Effort to secure vulnerable nuclear material around the world. See which countries and areas have had HEU or plutonium removed and secured by GTRI with this interactive map.

Posted on December 11, 2013 at 5:06 pm ET
Posted By Office of Public Affairs

The United States and Russia are today commemorating the completion of the 1993 U.S.-Russia HEU Purchase Agreement, commonly known as the Megatons to Megawatts Program. Under this agreement, more than 500 metric tons of weapons-origin highly enriched uranium from Russian nuclear warheads was downblended and shipped to the U.S. to fuel nuclear reactors. Over the past fifteen years, ten percent of all U.S. electricity has been supplied by fuel containing material from former Russian nuclear weapons. The final shipment of low enriched uranium under the agreement arrived in Baltimore this week, signaling the start of a new era of collaborative work between the U.S. and Russia.

Read more here. See additional photos of yesterday's shipment here.

Final Shipment of Fuel Converted From 20,000 Russian Nuclear Warheads Arrives

Posted on December 11, 2013 at 4:09 pm ET
Posted By Office of Public Affairs

 Pantex demonstrates ‘What’s the Matter’

Pantex scientists Barry Hill, left, and Matt Reyes demonstrate the properties of matter to a group of fifth graders at a recent Windows on a Wider World event at the Don Harrington Discover Center in Amarillo. Hill and Reyes, who both work in the Explosives Technology Division at Pantex, put on the “What’s the Matter” demonstration using liquid nitrogen to freeze a variety of items – including balloons, a banana and a racquetball – to demonstrate the different properties of matter and how they can be changed.

B&W Pantex supports a variety of educational outreach events throughout the year in an effort to foster an interest in science and math among students in the Texas Panhandle.

Posted on December 11, 2013 at 1:00 pm ET
Posted By Office of Public Affairs

President Barack Obama in Prague, Czech Republic April 5, 2009“Today I am announcing a new international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world within four years. We will set new standards, expand our cooperation with Russia, pursue new partnerships to lock down these sensitive materials.”

- President Barack Obama
Prague, Czech Republic April 5, 2009

As President Obama’s Four-Year Effort comes to a close this month, NNSA is highlighting the work carried out by its nonproliferation programs to reduce the threat of vulnerable nuclear material around the world. In support of the Four-Year Effort, NNSA’s Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) led the effort to secure and, when possible, eliminate these dangerous materials. Working at civilian sites in more than 100 countries, GTRI executes its mission by converting research reactors and isotope production facilities from using HEU to using low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel/targets, removing and/ or dispositioning excess nuclear and radiological materials, and protecting nuclear and radiological materials from theft. As such, GTRI was at the forefront of implementing the Four-Year Effort.

Under the effort, GTRI accomplished the following major tasks:

  • Removed and/or dispositioned nearly 3,000 kilograms of HEU and plutonium, bringing the lifetime total to more than 5,060 kilograms—enough material to produce more than 200 nuclear weapons.
  • Removed all HEU material from 11 countries plus Taiwan, bringing the lifetime total to 27 locations: Austria, Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, Colombia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Georgia, Greece, Hungary, Iraq, Latvia, Libya, Mexico, Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vietnam.
  • Secured more than 10 metric tons of HEU and 3 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium from Kazakhstan’s BN-350 reactor and transferred the material to long-term storage.

Click here to read highlights of GTRI’s contributions to President Obama’s Four-Year Effort to secure vulnerable nuclear material around the world. See which countries and areas have had HEU or plutonium removed and secured by GTRI with this interactive map.

Posted on December 9, 2013 at 12:00 pm ET