Consolidation of Nuclear Weapons Material Continues

Press Release
Jan 7, 2008

Consolidation of Nuclear Weapons Material ContinuesPlutonium Moved From Lawrence Livermore National Lab to Savannah River Site

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced today that it has removed another shipment of nuclear weapons grade plutonium from NNSA's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in California. NNSA, a separately organized agency in the Department of Energy, recently moved the plutonium under high security to the Savannah River Site in South Carolina.

The shipment is part of an accelerated effort announced last month to remove nuclear material from LLNL by 2012 - two years earlier than planned when the first shipment of plutonium left LLNL in late 2006. Similar actions are underway at other nuclear weapons complex sites, including the removal of weapons materials from Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico.

"There is too much nuclear weapons material stored at too many different sites around the country. One of my top priorities has been to speed up the consolidation of NNSA's material, and we are doing that," said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino. "Our consolidation efforts will reduce security costs and are an integral part of transforming the U.S. nuclear weapons complex to one that is smaller, safer, more secure, and more efficient."

As part of D'Agostino's recently announced vision of the future U.S. nuclear weapons complex, NNSA plans to consolidate nuclear materials at five sites by 2012, with significantly reduced square footage at those sites by 2017. This will further improve security and reduce security costs, and is part of D'Agostino's overall effort to transform the Cold War era nuclear weapons complex into a 21st century nuclear security enterprise.

The shipment was completed in full compliance with existing safety and environmental laws and procedures, and is in line with the September 5, 2007 decision made by the Department of Energy to consolidate surplus non-pit plutonium at Savannah River Site (SRS) where the excess material is planned to be turned into fuel at the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility. Construction on the MOX facility began August 1, 2007 and the total project is now 25 percent completed.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.

Media contact(s):
NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371