NNSA Approves Final Analysis of Plan To Transform and Downsize Nuclear Weapons Complex

Press Release
Oct 9, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The head of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announced today that he has approved the final environmental analysis of his plan to transform the aging, Cold War-era nuclear weapons complex into a 21st century national security enterprise.  The analysis contains NNSA's preference – or preferred alternative – for the future of the enterprise.

"The world is changing and we are changing along with it," said NNSA Administrator Thomas D'Agostino. "The number of U.S. nuclear weapons is shrinking, budgets are flat or declining, and we need a smaller, more secure, more efficient infrastructure that reflects these realities, and yet retains our essential capabilities and enables our workforce to perform this vital mission."

The environmental analysis, or Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (SPEIS), analyzed several different options for the future of the nuclear weapons complex.  One of those options outlines D'Agostino's preference for transformation and would consolidate missions and facilities within the existing NNSA sites, known as distributed centers of excellence.  While not eliminating any sites, NNSA would eliminate redundancies in missions, capabilities, and facilities at all of them, eventually saving money in the future.

In December 2007, D'Agostino announced the draft SPEIS.  Since that announcement, thousands of citizens attended more than 80 hours of public hearings and provided more than 600 oral comments regarding the proposed transformation plan.  During the public comment period there were a total of 20 public hearings over a 36 day span at NNSA sites and other locations. In total, NNSA received over 100,000 comments.

NNSA officials went through each comment while preparing the final SPEIS.  The final preferred actions, based on public comments, outside reviews and environmental and socioeconomic analyses include:

  • Consolidation of high-security special nuclear material: NNSA would continue to consolidate this material from seven sites down to five.  NNSA has already completed its shipments from Sandia National Laboratories and will do so at Livermore National Laboratory by 2012.
  • Plutonium manufacturing and R&D: Los Alamos National Laboratory would provide a consolidated plutonium research, development, and manufacturing capability.
  • Uranium manufacturing and R&D: Y-12 would continue as the uranium center producing components and canned subassemblies, and conducting surveillance and dismantlement.
  • Assembly/disassembly/high explosives production and manufacturing: Pantex would remain the assembly/disassembly/high explosives production and manufacturing center.
  • Tritium R&D:  NNSA would consolidate tritium research and development at the Savannah River Site.

A summary of the preferred alternative and other information on the proposal can be found at:
Complex Transformation.

The Notice of Availability of the final SPEIS will be posted in the Federal Register on October 24.  The preferred alternative for the SPEIS reflects NNSA's current preference, but it is not a decision.  NNSA will announce its implementation decisions in one or more records of decision roughly 30 days after posting in the Federal Register.

The plan would create an infrastructure that would help achieve President Bush's vision of the smallest nuclear stockpile consistent with U.S. national security needs.  The entire U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile has been reduced by 50 percent since the President took office in 2001, making it the smallest stockpile since the Eisenhower Administration.  Last December, the President directed the stockpile be reduced another 15 percent over the next several years.

NNSA's national security enterprise consists of the eight major facilities across the country that work together to keep the nation's nuclear weapons safe and reliable without underground nuclear testing.  The facilities are: Los Alamos National Laboratory (NM), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (CA), Sandia National Laboratories (NM and CA), Pantex Plant (TX), Y-12 National Security Complex (TN), Kansas City Plant (MO), Savannah River Site (SC), and Nevada Test Site (NV).

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a separately organized 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 United States and abroad.

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