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Project on Government Oversight

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex: Homeland Security Opportunities

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May 19, 2005 | By: Peter Stockton

Table of Contents

Executive Summary
Map of Current Sites Where Special Nuclear Materials Exist
Introduction
Chart: DOE Category I (CATI) Sites
The Threat of a Nuclear Detonation in the United States: Improvised Nuclear Devices
Secretary Abraham's Initiatives
The History of Consolidation: Report After Report Makes the Case
Final Disposition of Special Nuclear Materials
Cost Savings Through Consolidation
Map of POGO's Recommendations for Consolidation of Special Nuclear Material
Sites That Should Be De-Inventoried Immediately
     Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
     Oak Ridge National Laboratory
     Los Alamos National Laboratory's Technical Area 18
     Sandia National Laboratory
     Hanford Reservation
Sites with Inadequate Security Standards
     Nuclear Fuel Services
     Nuclear Products Division of BWXT
On-Site Consolidation Opportunities
     Y-12 Facility at Oak Ridge
     Pantex Plant
Unused Secure Storage Sites
     Device Assembly Facility (DAF) at the Nevada Test Site
     Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL)
Facilities That Should Ultimately Be De-Inventoried
     Argonne National Laboratory, West
     Savannah River Site
Glossary
Appendices
Endnotes


Executive Summary

The Department of Energy (DOE) maintains its stockpile of Special Nuclear Materials (SNM) at 13 laboratories and facilities nationwide. Many of these sites store materials in World War II- and 1950s-era buildings that were never designed to deter modern-day terrorist assaults. Moreover, many of these sites no longer need Special Nuclear Materials to fulfill a national security mission, but store them at great cost and risk.

This map of the United States shows current sites where special nuclear materials exist.

Current Sites Where Special Nuclear Materials Exist

Click here for larger view

Security experts' greatest concern is that a suicidal terrorist group would reach its target at one of the facilities and, in an extremely short time, create an improvised nuclear bomb on site.  It is only now becoming known outside DOE how easily this could be accomplished: using a critical mass (about 100 pounds) of highly-enriched uranium, a terrorist could trigger a detonation of a magnitude close to that which devastated Hiroshima. One site alone stores 400 metric tons of this material. The possibility of this scenario was a primary motivation for the DOE's decision to significantly increase security requirements at nuclear weapons facilities last year.

Starting in 2008, security forces at facilities storing Special Nuclear Materials must be able to repel an assault by more than three times the number of attackers they had to be prepared for prior to 9/11, involving far more lethal weapons and truck bombs. The increased requirements will place a heavy financial burden on the American taxpayer at a time of fiscal constraint. While increased security is unquestionably necessary, some changes to the current configuration of the nuclear weapons complex could actually make it more secure for less money.

In consultation with security experts throughout the federal government, the Project On Government Oversight conducted an investigation to determine how nuclear weapons sites could best meet the new security requirements while also lessening the financial impact of improvements. The results of this investigation have found that by disposing of excess nuclear materials and by consolidating the remaining materials to fewer and more easily-defended locations, the government could save nearly three billion dollars over three years while also better protecting the public from terrorist threats.

SITES THAT SHOULD BE DE-INVENTORIED IMMEDIATELY

This map of the United States shows where POGO recommends consolidation of special nuclear material.

POGO's recommendations for consolidation
of special nuclear materials

Click here for larger view

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Department officials admit that weapons being used to protect Livermore are not as lethal as those required at other nuclear facilities. This is because houses have now been built across the street from the Lab, some of which are only 800 yards from the building storing plutonium. Without adequate protection, a possible nuclear incident at Livermore puts in danger the population of seven million residents living within 50 miles of the Lab. POGO recommends removing the site's weapons-grade nuclear materials. SAVINGS: $375-$385 million

Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Oak Ridge stores one thousand cans of Uranium-233, a material that is just as potent and dangerous as highly-enriched uranium for making an improvised nuclear bomb. Despite this, the site does not have basic security measures in place, including fences and SWAT-capable protective forces. In 2004, the Lab failed a self-assessment security test – with "attackers" successfully breaching security at the Lab and "killing" the entire protective force in 90 seconds. The U-233 should be moved immediately to Y-12 where it can be appropriately secured. Priority attention needs to be paid to whether or not medical isotopes (i.e. Thorium) can be extracted economically from Uranium-233 and, if so, commit to accomplishing this immediately. Once resolved either way, the U-233 should be downblended as quickly as possible. SAVINGS: $290 million

Los Alamos National Laboratory's Technical Area 18. Widely recognized as the most vulnerable site in the nuclear weapons complex, TA-18 is scheduled to be de-inventoried of weapons-grade nuclear materials by the end of 2005. However, LANL is pushing to continue activities at TA-18, further postponing the move at least six months. Furthermore, some of the surplus material will be stored at the Los Alamos ' Technical Area 55 until 2008. Instead, POGO recommends that all material be moved to the Device Assembly Facility at the Nevada Test Site by the end of FY2005. SAVINGS: $370 million

Sandia National Laboratory. DOE planned to de-inventory Sandia of weapons-grade materials by 2007. However, in recent months, safety problems have arisen which are likely irreconcilable and place the public at great risk. Furthermore, Sandia's burst reactor experiments can be conducted at other facilities. As a result, POGO recommends that Sandia be immediately de-inventoried. SAVINGS: $275 million

Hanford Reservation.  Hanford has retained a large quantity of plutonium that is not scheduled to be moved until 2007, and some from the Los Alamos Molten Plutonium Reactor Experiment for which there are no plans for removal or disposition at all. This is of particular concern, as Hanford failed a force-on-force exercise after 9/11. POGO recommends the remaining weapons-grade plutonium be moved to Savannah River immediately. SAVINGS: $295 million

SITES WITH INADEQUATE SECURITY STANDARDS

Nuclear Fuel Services and the Nuclear Products Division of BWXT.  These are commercially-operated facilities that provide nuclear fuel for the Office of Naval Reactors. Unfortunately, although DOE materials are stored at these sites, they are secured and tested under the much lower standards of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Security has not been tested by the government since 1998 at Nuclear Fuel Services. POGO recommends that both sites have the same security requirements as other sites storing weapons-grade nuclear materials and that oversight be moved to the DOE. COST: $180 million each site, $360 million total

ON-SITE CONSOLIDATION OPPORTUNITIES

Y-12 Facility at Oak Ridge. This plant, located outside Knoxville, Tennessee, is home to the nation's stockpile of highly-enriched uranium (HEU), the most attractive material for terrorists who want to create an improvised nuclear explosion. The current plan is to build two above-ground facilities, despite concerns that the design is less secure and more expensive than one underground facility. POGO recommends consolidating weapons-grade materials to a single underground or bermed (covered with earth) facility at Y-12; accelerate the plan to downblend 174 metric tons of excess HEU; and consider declaring an additional 100 metric tons of HEU excess and available for downblending to make it less attractive to terrorists. SAVINGS: $1.2-1.67 billion

Pantex Plant. Pantex stores thousands of plutonium pits in World War II-era bunkers located at the end of an Amarillo airport runway, creating an optimal terrorist target. Since these pits will never be used, they should be immobilized so that they are no longer available to suicidal terrorists. In the mean time, plutonium should be better secured at a location away from the airport or in an underground facility. SAVINGS: $140 million

UNUSED SECURE STORAGE SITES

Device Assembly Facility (DAF) at the Nevada Test Site. Special Nuclear Materials from the notorious Los Alamos TA-18 are now being shipped to the DAF, the most secure storage facility in the country. However, DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration and security contractor Wackenhut have not increased security in preparation for these shipments. As a result, the site failed a mock terrorist test in 2004. POGO recommends increasing the size of the protective force, and improving training and defensive strategy at the site. COST: $90 million

Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL). INEEL is one of only two facilities in the entire nuclear weapons complex to actually have an appropriately-secure underground repository for Special Nuclear Materials. The great irony is that this is the only site in the complex expected to meet its schedule for de-inventorying (by Summer 2005). In fact, the facility was slated for "rubblization" until only recently, when government officials realized this facility might fulfill most needs for underground storage for the complex. POGO recommends preparing the underground facility to store plutonium and highly-enriched uranium. A relatively modest investment in this facility would pay for itself in six years. COST: $150 million

FACILITIES THAT SHOULD ULTIMATELY BE DE-INVENTORIED

Argonne National Laboratory, West. Argonne West is building a new facility to store plutonium for a NASA space program.  The Lab also stores more than nine tons of highly-enriched uranium and plutonium, although it has no weapons-related need for this material. Two years ago, the Lab's security was found to be unsatisfactory, and it continues to have trouble developing updated security plans. POGO recommends de-inventorying Argonne West and moving the NASA-related materials to an existing building at the Idaho National Lab (formerly INEEL). SAVINGS: $75 million

Savannah River Site. Savannah River is home to the nation's stockpile of plutonium. Although a plan had been under way to consolidate materials to one building, DOE has proposed several new facilities to house plutonium, including one that would be used to convert plutonium into nuclear power plant fuel. POGO recommends that DOE consider relocating any proposed new facilities to Pantex, and that Savannah River ultimately be de-inventoried by moving plutonium to one of the secure storage sites at the Idaho National Lab or the Nevada Test Site. In addition, the amount of plutonium declared excess should be more than doubled and made unusable by terrorists by immobilizing it. SAVINGS: $460 million


Introduction

This map of the United States shows current sites where special nuclear materials exist.

Current Sites Where Special Nuclear Materials Exist

Click here for larger view

"The Nations of the world must do all we can to secure and eliminate … nuclear materials."

-- President George W. Bush in remarks at the National Defense University , February 11, 2004.[1]

After 9/11, when we learned that terrorists are far more capable than had previously been imagined, officials viewed the security of the Department of Energy's (DOE) nuclear weapons facilities in a whole new light. While there will continue to be political debates regarding the mission of the nuclear weapons complex, there is no longer any debate about the fact that these facilities have certain vulnerabilities, and pose risks to public health and safety, unlike any other sector in the country.  It is critical that these risks and vulnerabilities be reduced as much as possible, and as quickly as possible.  This means reducing the number of targets and reducing the stockpiles of excess nuclear materials.

The Department maintains its stockpile of nuclear weapons quantities of bomb-grade plutonium and highly-enriched uranium (commonly known as "Special Nuclear Materials" or SNM) at 13 locations.  Because of the fearsome capacity of these materials, any facility storing them is classified as a Category I (CAT I) site.

DOE Category I (CAT I) Sites 

  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in Livermore, California
  • Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee
  • Los Alamos National Laboratory in Los Alamos, New Mexico
  • Sandia National Laboratory in Albuquerque, New Mexico
  • Savannah River Site near Aiken, South Carolina
  • Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas
  • Nevada Test Site, north of Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Hanford Reservation near Richland, Washington
  • Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory,west of Idaho Falls, Idaho
  • Argonne National Laboratory West, west of Idaho Falls, Idaho
  • Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Oak Ridge, Tennessee
  • Nuclear Products Division of BWXT in Lynchburg, Virginia
  • Nuclear Fuel Services in Erwin, Tennessee  


The DOE owns eleven of these sites: seven are run by the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and four by the Office of Energy, Science and Environment (ESE). The sites in Lynchburg, Virginia and Erwin, Tennessee are commercially owned. Although the commercially-owned sites are primarily funded by DOE's Office of Naval Reactors, they are licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The security for these two sites is tested by the far less demanding NRC, using a security standard, or Design Basis Threat (DBT),[2] which appears to be weaker than that applied to DOE facilities.  For instance, security at the Nuclear Fuel Services has not been tested by the NRC since 1998.

Many of the Category I sites store their Special Nuclear Materials in inadequately secured World War II and 1950s-era buildings that were never designed for long term storage or with modern-day terrorist threats in mind. Moreover, many of these labs and facilities do not need Special Nuclear Material for their mission, but are simply storing these materials – at great cost and risk to the health and safety of the public.

In 2003 and 2004, several hearings were held by the House Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security and the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.  At one of the hearings, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported back to National Security Subcommittee Chairman Chris Shays (R-CT), who had requested a wide-ranging review of security at the nuclear weapons complex. The Congressional investigators' testimony was unusually critical of security at NNSA sites.[3]  The GAO's review of security at the ESE sites is expected in June 2005. The Senate has remained largely silent on the subject.

On September 14, 2004, DOE Headquarters in Washington, D.C., sent a directive to all sites in the nuclear weapons complex ordering a significant increase in their security posture (known as the Design Basis Threat, or DBT). The intent was to require better protection for sites containing weapons quantities of plutonium and highly-enriched uranium. This move was codified in October when then-Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham officially announced the increase in requirements, the second since 9/11.[4] Under the new requirements, security forces will have to be prepared to repel more than three times the number of attackers they were required to protect against prior to 9/11. Furthermore, it will be assumed that adversaries will be using far more lethal weapons and much larger truck bombs than had previously been considered.

Yet the new standards will not be fully implemented until 2008 – seven years after 9/11. The NNSA estimates that for its seven sites the new security plans will cost $500 million annually in manpower alone.[5] This does not include further technological upgrades such as more secure storage facilities, activated barriers[6], high-tech sensors, cameras and other infrastructural improvements. For instance, a line of two fences with sensors and cameras between them[7] would cost each site, on average, $14,000 per linear foot.


The Threat of a Nuclear Detonation in the United States: Improvised Nuclear Devices

"The gravest danger, however, and the one requiring urgent attention is the possibility that terrorists could obtain highly-enriched uranium or plutonium for use in an improvised nuclear device. This book correctly highlights the priority of securing, consolidating, and eliminating HEU, while maintaining rigorous security around plutonium."

-- Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) and former Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA), 2004.[8]

An array of concerns arises when it comes to securing America's nuclear material. But security experts' greatest fear is very distinct: a terrorist group successfully reaches its target at one of the facilities and within minutes uses the highly-enriched uranium (HEU) to create an improvised nuclear bomb on site (known as an Improvised Nuclear Device, or IND).[9]

In October 2001, the Project On Government Oversight (POGO) issued its report "U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex: Security at Risk" recommending, among other things, consolidation of the Department's HEU and plutonium. This report included the first public discussion of Improvised Nuclear Devices (IND), the simplicity with which they could be assembled and detonated, and the dangers they posed to the areas surrounding the sites that store HEU and plutonium. With little public awareness of the IND problem, DOE had been able to ignore it by classifying discussion of the vulnerability as a "Special Access Program" or SAP.  For decades, only a select few government officials were allowed to discuss INDs.  Even the name of the SAP was classified.[10]  Despite the devastating security concerns raised by INDs, one DOE official articulated the head-in-the-sand approach to this problem in a 1999 meeting, saying, "We were told by Headquarters not to spend a cent on this problem."[11]

Highly-enriched uranium would clearly be the material of choice to create an IND. It only takes a critical mass (about one hundred pounds) of HEU to create an IND.[12] One site alone stores about 400 metric tons of HEU. INDs are frequently referred to as a "gun type" weapon – firing a piece of HEU at another piece to create a chain reaction. This was the method used to create the Hiroshima bomb. Using the same theory, terrorists could create a crude IND by taking two pieces of HEU and slamming them together with conventional explosives. In fact, a far more crude IND can be created even without the use of explosives. This nearly happened accidentally at Y-12 years ago.  As Nobel Prize-winning physicist Luis Alvarez explained it:

With modern weapons-grade uranium, the background neutron rate is so low that terrorists, if they had such material, would have a good chance of setting off a high-yield explosion simply by dropping one half of the material onto the other half.  Most people seem unaware that if separated U-235 is at hand, it's a trivial job to set off a nuclear explosion. . . . Given a supply of U-235 . . . even a high school kid could make a bomb in short order.[13]

According to Princeton University 's Frank von Hippel, "a 100-pound mass of uranium dropped on a second 100-pound mass, from a height of about 6 feet, could produce a blast of 5 to10 kilotons."[14]  The blast from the Hiroshima atomic bomb was only slightly larger, and it killed over 200,000 people.

Two other nuclear materials exist that have the same properties as highly-enriched uranium in that they can be used to create an IND – Neptunium-237 and Uranium-233.[15]

Several DOE sites store substantial amounts of Neptunium-237, but DOE has been silent on whether these materials need to be protected at the new DBT levels. Neptunium-237 is produced in nuclear power reactors as a byproduct of the chain reaction.  It has a very low neutron background and can be chemically separated out of spent reactor fuel using basic chemistry rather than the large and expensive processes required to enrich uranium. According to a Los Alamos press release, in 2002 Los Alamos demonstrated that the critical mass of Neptunium-237 is about 60kg. A bomb with a large yield could therefore be made with less than 2 critical masses of Neptunium-237 (but more than 60 kg total). (APPENDIX A) As a result, Neptunium-237 is not simply the valueless byproduct of a chain reaction, as previously thought. Instead, it can be a dangerous nuclear material that is attractive to terrorists.

It was during the 1990s that the DOE became concerned about the potential of neptunium as an isotope that could be used in the creation of a nuclear weapon.  U.S. officials had several meetings with the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) about imposing new protection standards for neptunium as a Special Nuclear Material.  Although they resisted at first, citing concerns that neptunium abounds worldwide, in 1999 the IAEA at least began to regard it as an "alternate nuclear material" requiring tracking but not safeguarding. [16]

Another such material that has fallen below the radar is Uranium-233. This material was produced by the nuclear weapons complex as a byproduct of the weapons program. Although DOE does not yet publicly acknowledge the risk, senior nuclear engineers advise POGO that in sufficient quantities, U-233 can be as potent and dangerous as highly-enriched uranium for making an improvised nuclear bomb.  According to the private Nuclear Threat Initiative, "The properties of U-233 as a nuclear explosive would seem to make it quite attractive to bomb-makers."[17] Until recently, U-233, which is typically contaminated with highly radioactive U-232, had been considered too hazardous to be a security risk – it was considered "self-protecting" against theft because a person could die from handling it.  However, 9/11 has taught us that many terrorists are willing to die to inflict the maximum damage to their targets.  The radioactivity can no longer be viewed as an obstacle because a terrorist would still have enough time to set off an IND before dying from the radiation, given the relatively short amount of time needed to assemble an IND.

In addition to detonating an IND on site, terrorists could steal weapons quantities of plutonium or highly-enriched uranium and detonate a crude nuclear weapon in a major American city.  Terrorists could also simply attack a facility and detonate conventional explosives in the nuclear material storage rooms to create a radiological dispersal device or "dirty bomb" sending radiation downwind, putting thousands of lives at risk and creating unimaginable property damage.  However, an IND is orders of magnitude more devastating than a "dirty bomb."

The DOE has now recognized the potential threat posed by INDs. In fact, the possibility of an IND detonation at a number of sites around the complex was a primary motivation for the dramatic increase in the Design Basis Threat in 2004.


Secretary Abraham's Initiatives

In May 2004, then-Secretary Abraham announced some bold initiatives for improving the security of the entire nuclear weapons complex. Faced with an inadequate security program, Abraham acknowledged and began to address many of the weaknesses. (APPENDIX B)

The initiatives included considering declaring an additional 100 metric tons of highly-enriched uranium to be surplus, and downblending the HEU to make it unattractive to terrorists.[18] Abraham also encouraged consolidating nuclear materials: "Ultimately, I believe we need to both reduce the number of sites with Special Nuclear Material to the absolute minimum, consistent with carrying out our missions, and to consolidate the material in each of those sites to better safeguard that material." Specifically, he recommended considering removing weapons-grade material from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratory.

Shortly thereafter, Abraham took the dramatic step of significantly increasing security standards around the complex.

However, there is a major problem with these initiatives: the former Secretary failed to establish timely deadlines for their implementation and, as a result, many of these initiatives have now stalled.  To get back on track, current DOE Secretary Samuel Bodman has several issues he needs to address. First, he needs to set strict deadlines and, because officials throughout the nuclear weapons complex have strongly resisted any change, he needs to assign trusted staff to constantly follow up on the progress.  Adding to the current bureaucratic inertia is the belief by those inside the complex that they can just wait out any new directives until the current Secretary has moved on, and the status quo can be maintained. There is also the lack of incentive to change created by the revolving door between the Department of Energy and the weapons labs, particularly at the NNSA.  It creates an insular environment in which people coming into the DOE bring with them their biases in favor of the status quo: no one likes to criticize their own actions.

DOE's Office of Safety and Security Performance Assurance Director Glenn Podonsky was entrusted with keeping track of the status of these initiatives. He was also tasked with conducting Site Assistance Visits at each of the Category I sites in order to determine recommendations for consolidation options, such as the material "remains at current location, is consolidated, material is moved off-site, etc." (APPENDIX C) This effort will be an invaluable tool for determining opportunities for consolidating nuclear materials in the complex.  It should also highlight the security upgrades and commensurate additional expenditures necessary for those facilities that will continue to maintain Special Nuclear Materials.


The History of Consolidation: Report After Report Makes the Case

Proposals to consolidate and secure America 's nuclear arsenal have long been on the table. In the past ten years alone, the DOE has spent millions of dollars on security reviews by various commissions. Most of these reviews supported consolidation.

For instance, in 1999, the classified Hagengruber Report strongly recommended consolidation and building underground storage facilities at Y-12 and Savannah River . According to several sources who read the report, it recommended using the Air Force's KUMSEC underground storage facility in New Mexico and the bermed Device Assembly Facility in Nevada as design templates for storing nuclear materials, rather than spending millions of dollars on unique designs for each site in the complex.

Another study was done in 2001-2002, after the National Security Council and the Department of Defense (DOD) ordered a review of the security of the entire U.S. nuclear weapons program, including DOE's nuclear weapons sites and the DOD's storage sites, deployed nuclear weapons, and nuclear submarines.[19] Again, government officials found significant security problems at DOE sites. And in 2003, amid criticism of security failures at the weapons labs, NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks commissioned yet another review of security. The report has, at this time, been in draft form for more than six months. The next year, in May 2004, then-Secretary Abraham ordered NNSA to develop an analysis of what the complex should look like over the next 25 years. POGO has been told that NNSA has just begun this analysis—nine months after they were assigned the task.

Despite the studies' findings, little has changed. The reports were dutifully filed away (if they were completed at all), and their conclusions ignored.

The Department has made some strides since 2001 toward accomplishing consolidation: the Rocky Flats Plutonium Plant outside Denver has been de-inventoried and Technical Area 18 at Los Alamos is at long last being de-inventoried despite ongoing efforts to derail the process.


Final Disposition of Special Nuclear Materials

In addition to consolidating the number of sites housing Special Nuclear Materials, it is essential that excess materials be disposed of in such a way that they no longer create an unnecessary homeland security vulnerability.  While the U.S. has been financing the Russian government's effort to downblend 500 metric tons of highly-enriched uranium and to corral all "loose nukes," here at home the efforts have been half-hearted at best. The Russians have already downblended 200 metric tons – enough for approximately 9,000-10,000 weapons. The United States has only downblended 34 metric tons. Although the U.S. plans to downblend 140 metric tons more, it is not scheduled for completion until 2016 or beyond. (APPENDIX D)

In the late 1990s, the U.S. was moving ahead with plans to immobilize some part of its excess weapons-grade plutonium inventory – which entails stabilizing it in a glass or ceramic matrix and immersing it in canisters of glassified, highly-radioactive waste. In September 2000, the U.S. and Russia signed a plutonium management and disposition agreement to each dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons grade plutonium. This arrangement has been stalled for nearly five years, while the surplus plutonium in both countries continues to present security and proliferation risks.

Initially, the U.S. was planning to use two disposition methods: irradiation to create mixed-oxide fuel for commercial reactors and immobilization. In 2001, the U.S. abandoned its immobilization plans, and decided to pursue turning 100% of the excess plutonium into mixed-oxide fuel (MOX). However, the MOX plan has not turned out to be the quick and cheap path to disposition that some believed it to be. Turning the excess plutonium into MOX is currently estimated to take approximately seventeen years, versus the seven years estimated for immobilizing the plutonium. Because of delays, cost overruns and other problems, the current projected cost to the U.S. is around $6-7 billion for turning both U.S. and Russian plutonium into MOX. Furthermore, there are certain security concerns with MOX. Immobilization of plutonium is therefore clearly a quicker and cheaper disposition path than MOX, and does not have the security concerns of mixed-oxide conversion. Moreover, the MOX option was promoted pre-9/11, when the ongoing homeland security vulnerabilities posed by the plutonium inventories were not fully recognized. The good news is that the FY2006 budget includes $10 million for a conceptual design of a new plutonium immobilization plant at the Savannah River Site.[20] This evaluation should be accomplished by scientists and engineers with some recognized independence and balance such as the National Academy of Sciences. (APPENDIX E)


Cost Savings Through Consolidation

Some key weapons facilities, including Los Alamos' TA-18 and Lawrence Livermore National Lab, will not be able to protect against the new threat level no matter how much money is spent, because of their location. Removing all Special Nuclear Materials from those facilities dramatically reduces security vulnerabilities for those facilities while also dramatically decreasing security costs.

DOE's only immediate alternative in the aftermath of 9/11 was to increase its protective force capability.  As time passed, other actions across the DOE complex included a host of assessment and communication enhancements, and target consolidation.  However, the most critical aspect of DOE's response to the terrorist threat continues to be larger, better-trained, properly-equipped, and more robust protective forces.  Unfortunately, protective forces by their very nature are manpower-intensive and are a very expensive recurring cost. The increase in protective force strength necessary to address the increased threat is exponential. If the number of terrorists a site is required to protect against increases by a factor of three, DOE facilities with multiple targets may need to add more than 30 protective force members per shift. This is true because the adversary has the advantage of concentrating all its resources (tactics and firepower) in a narrow corridor for entry and target acquisition. Of course, there is no way for the protective force to know where that attack is going to occur, so it must protect the entire facility equally. For every additional "bad guy" the guard force has to protect against, the DOE requires three new "good guy" posts. Each post requires five people to cover all the shifts.  Therefore, for each new adversary, DOE needs to hire 15 new protective force guards.

The only way to reduce the most costly element of DOE protection systems – protective force response – and maintain overall system effectiveness is to substantially increase the delay in a terrorist attack before a terrorist can get "hands-on" SNM.  Activated barriers provide delay in the tens of minutes versus fixed barriers which typically provide only tens of seconds. Although delay mechanisms are not a panacea for fundamental structural or geographic limitations at a site, they should be more seriously considered for wider use.

The following cost figures are POGO's best estimates for meeting the 2004 DBT in the complex's current configuration, versus the estimated cost of meeting the same standards with POGO's recommended consolidation. These estimates are necessarily approximate because the exact amounts of Special Nuclear Materials are classified, as are the proposed security upgrades, many of which are yet to be determined. These estimates and recommendations have been reviewed by current and former DOE and DOD security officials, other government agencies, and U.S. Special Operations personnel familiar with the weapons complex.

Estimated Consolidation Savings Over Three Years
(in millions of dollars)
 

Savings
 Elements

National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA)

Energy, Science & Environment (ESE) & Naval Reactors

Sites

Livermore

Y-12

Los Alamos'
TA-55 & TA-18+

Sandia

Savannah River

Pantex

Nevada Test Site

Hanford

INEEL & Argonne West

Oak Ridge Nat'l Lab*

NFS & Lynchburg

Guard Force

315

0270

270

225

360

90

-90

225

0

180

-360

Infrastructure

60

750mil. to 1.4 bil

100

50

100

50

0

70

-75

110

**


Subtotal

375

1.02 to 1.67 bil

370

275

460

140

-90

295

-75

290

-360

Has Special Nuclear Materials after Consolidation

NO

YES

YES/NO

NO

NO

YES

YES

NO

YES/NO

NO

YES/YES

 
 

NNSA

ESE and NAVAL

 

 

Savings

$2.55 billion

$150 million

 

 

TOTAL 

$2.7 Billion

 
*Plus cost to downblend U-233
**Plus cost of unknown infrastructure requirements
+These facilities are scheduled to be de-inventoried before the new security standards are required to have been fully implemented in 2008. However, POGO has been told that the current schedule is already slipping. Immediate de-inventorying will remove the need for incremental security upgrades in FY2005-FY2008.
Compiled by Project On Government Oversight, March 2005 

 
The manpower savings are calculated by taking our best estimate of the cost of pre-9/11 manpower and multiplying by three because the 2004 DBT is more than triple the pre-9/11 DBT.  Each protective force member costs approximately $125,000 annually.  Therefore, each additional post, with four shifts plus one person to cover vacation and sick leave, will cost an additional $625,000.

We have tripled the annual savings from protective force reductions because it is the industry standard to estimate return on investment by including annual savings for three years into the future. There are no significant increases in transportation costs (other than fuel) derived from recommended moves of material from one site to another, as transportation assets are a pre-existing sunk cost to the complex. There will be additional, marginal increased costs to packaging the materials for transportation.

POGO's Reccomendations for Consolidation of Special Nuclear Materials*
*Category I and II weapons grade plutonium and
highly-enriched uranium

click on map above for larger view (high resolution file)


SITES THAT SHOULD BE DE-INVENTORIED IMMEDIATELY

This map of the United States shows where POGO recommends consolidation of special nuclear material.

POGO's recommendations for consolidation
of special nuclear materials

Click here for larger view



 Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory

This aerial view photograph of Livermore National Laboratory's boundaries.

Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory - Photo from October 2003 DOE document

"[A]lthough the Subcommittee has heard suggestions to eliminate special nuclear material at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, our judgment is that such a step would preclude our carrying out important Stockpile Stewardship assessments."

-- NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks, April 2004.[21]

Livermore, just to the East of the San Francisco Bay Area, is managed by the University of California. It is a weapons design lab, has a role in stockpile stewardship, and houses hundreds of pounds of highly-enriched uranium and plutonium. Currently the only mission for Special Nuclear Materials at the Lab is for studying the aging of plutonium and studying cracked plutonium pits[22] for nuclear warheads. This same work is also conducted at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

This aerial photograph of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory with a larger view of the residential housing area perimeter.

Lawrence Livermore
National Laboratory-Current Day Photo

Click here for
larger view of housing area

Roughly seven million people live within a 50 mile radius of the Livermore Lab.  In fact, many residential homes now exist across the street from the Lab's fence line, and new townhouses with mini-vineyards are being built along the edge of the fence line. These homes sit only 800 yards from the Superblock, which houses the Lab's plutonium. If a terrorist group detonated an Improvised Nuclear Device at the Lab, the San Francisco Bay Area and inland regions – the key agricultural areas of California – could be devastated. These consequences appear to have been lost on the NNSA. In February 2004, the NNSA proposed doubling Livermore 's plutonium to 1,500 kilograms.  (APPENDIX F)

According to DOE documents, as well as interviews POGO has conducted with numerous DOE security experts about Livermore, the Lab's security is marginal. Surprisingly, the protective forces at Livermore are issued far less lethal and less powerful weapons than protective forces at other sites that store the same Special Nuclear Materials.[23] Security personnel also lack breaching explosives (used for breaching doors or creating holes in the side of the building), which they would need to use if terrorists barricaded themselves inside a storage vault or lab to construct an improvised nuclear bomb or prepare a radiological dispersal device.

This is a photograph of the 1-ton truck that breached the Sandia and Lawrence Livermore security perimeters.

Sunday, February 8, 2004 -
The 1-ton truck that breached the Sandia and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories' security perimeter.

Click here for larger view

The security at the site is so inadequate that, in February 2003, a one-ton truck crashed through the perimeter security fence at Livermore and the neighboring Sandia California facility,[24] and was able to travel "a considerable distance inside the site security perimeter" before being stopped by security. The DOE's Inspector General discovered that ten months after pop-up barriers had been installed at a cost of millions of dollars, the NNSA had still not authorized their activation.[25]

Department officials state that the security force is not armed with more lethal weapons because the Lab is bordered by residential neighborhoods. As one former senior Department security official told POGO, "The [Department] and the Livermore neighbors are concerned about the use of automatic weapons and small explosives. But what are their concerns about radiological sabotage or an IND [a nuclear explosion] in their neighborhood?"

The encroaching residential community surrounding Lawrence Livermore has made it nearly impossible to properly protect the Lab's weapons quantities of plutonium and highly-enriched uranium. Security officials at other sites have responded to the new security standards with the proposal of extending the perimeter fences around the nuclear facilities. Livermore cannot make this change because homes and businesses surround Livermore. There is simply no room.

Furthermore, the security officers' corps is suffering from severely low morale because, in addition to being inadequately armed, they have inadequate first-responder benefits. Three years ago, the Livermore security officers brought their concerns about the lack of first-responder benefits to the attention of Congress. Despite this, they still have not received life or disability insurance or other benefits equivalent to those provided to Livermore firefighters, or to local and state police forces. This, understandably, dampens the security officers' willingness to accept higher levels of risk and raises the question about whether or not they will stay and fight if real bullets fly. Security officers wonder why first responders and local police and fire departments have first-responder benefits and they don't. As one officer pointed out, if a Livermore security officer and a Livermore firefighter both respond to an incident or attack and both get injured or killed, the firefighter and his family get a whole package of benefits including health, disability and life insurance, while the security officer and his family get none of these benefits. The disparity is not a result of the different policies of different employers because Livermore security officers and firefighters are employed by the University of California . The result of this unequal policy is a security force whose members wonder each day they go to work, "Who is going to look after my family if I get killed saving the day?" (APPENDIX G)

POGO spoke with a senior University of California official in 2004 about this issue. The official assured POGO that this problem would be resolved during labor negotiations. It was not.

One of Secretary Abraham's May 2004 initiatives was to review the necessity of maintaining Livermore 's Special Nuclear Materials. "As part of the review we will consider whether certain essential work performed at Livermore could be relocated to allow us to remove the [weapons grade material] stored there," he said in his May speech.

Even a decade ago, government officials questioned Livermore 's need to house Special Nuclear Material. In 1995, then-Secretary of Energy Hazel O'Leary established a task force on "Alternative Futures for the Department of Energy National Laboratories," comprised of leaders from industry and academia, including former Livermore Lab Director Herbert York.  Known as the "Galvin Report" after Chairman Robert Galvin of Motorola Inc., the task force recommended:

[Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory] would transfer, as cost-efficiency allows, over the next five years its activities in nuclear materials development and production to the other design laboratory. [Livermore] would transfer direct stockpile support to the other weapons laboratories as the requirements of science-based stockpile stewardship, support of the DoD nuclear posture, and the status of test bans allow. Under these conditions, the Task Force believes that the transfer can be made in five years. (APPENDIX H)

The commission believed Livermore could be de-inventoried of Special Nuclear Materials by 2000.

There is great resistance within the NNSA and Livermore to the removal of the Special Nuclear Materials from Livermore. Lab officials appear to feel that without nuclear materials, the Lab's relevance might be questioned.  Phil Coyle, the former deputy director at Livermore and a former Assistant Secretary of Defense, told the Los Angeles Times in May 2004 that removing bomb-grade material from Livermore would make it more difficult to justify continued research with highly-enriched uranium or plutonium. "If they have to reduce materials at Livermore to the point where they can't do their work, then people will ask why everything just can't be done at Los Alamos," he said.  The article continued, "Since the end of the Cold War, Livermore successfully has rebuffed critics who said that the nation does not need two labs supporting the nuclear weapons program and that Los Alamos could handle all the work."[26] [27]

Currently, the safety problems at Livermore are so extensive that all plutonium activities at the Superblock have been discontinued – perhaps for as long as six months to two years. (APPENDIX O)

RECOMMENDATION: Remove all weapons-grade plutonium and highly-enriched uranium from Livermore. The current shut-down at the Superblock is the perfect opportunity to prepare a path for de-inventorying the Lab of Special Nuclear Materials. If Livermore continues to need some amount of this material for its mission, the required material should be stored at the Device Assembly Facility in Nevada, only an hour's plane ride away. Livermore scientists who need to work with the material can travel there to conduct research, something they did for years during the nuclear testing program.

Financial Implications of Changes:

  • Total manpower savings: $315 million
    • Current cost of manpower: $35 million
    • Manpower tripled to meet new DBT
    • Over three years
  • $60-70 million saved because infrastructure improvements at Livermore would not be required to meet the new Design Basis Threat.

TOTAL SAVINGS: $375-385 million

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), which is adjacent to Y-12 and overseen by DOE's Energy, Science, and Environment (ESE) Division, dates back to the Manhattan Project and performs basic scientific research for a variety of disciplines. ORNL maintains some stockpiles of Neptunium-237 and stores one thousand cans of Uranium-233.[28]  It has generally been assumed that the Uranium-233 could not be transported, nor would it be accepted by Y-12, which is far more capable of protecting the materials.  Although the Lab does not yet acknowledge the risk of U-233, senior nuclear engineers advise POGO that this material is as potent and dangerous as highly-enriched uranium in terms of making an improvised nuclear bomb.

For years, there has been the hope of extracting Thorium-229 from U-233 to produce medical isotopes used in cancer research and treatment.  However, this effort has not progressed.  Questions have been raised about the cost effectiveness of this effort, and whether there are alternatives.  In the end, the belief that U-233 might provide a useful isotope has become a stumbling block for disposing of these hazardous materials. In 2002, the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board strongly suggested that, "considering the unique hazards associated with U-233," ORNL not wait for a proposed plan to extract medical isotopes from Uranium-233 to begin downblending it, but instead develop a back-up plan.  It appears such a back-up plan does not yet exist. (APPENDIX I)

Given these circumstances, it is extraordinary that ORNL does not have the security systems required for housing weapons-grade materials.  It has not had an approved security plan (known as a Site Specific Security Plan) since 1997.  It is missing some fundamental aspects of a basic security system: a double fence line with sensors and cameras between them,[29] an adequate number of guards, and a Special Response Team (SRT) – an on-site security team with SWAT capabilities.  In fact, ORNL's defensive strategy depends on the protective force (particularly the SRT team) from Y-12 to respond to a security emergency at ORNL. This strategy is seriously flawed: it makes the already-vulnerable Y-12 even more so, especially if the attack on ORNL is a diversion and the real target is Y-12's massive stockpiles of HEU.

ORNL security officers failed a self-assessment force-on-force test in 2004, according to DOE security officials. Special Response Team members from Y-12 acted as attackers, successfully breaching security at the Lab and "killing" the entire ORNL protective force in 90 seconds. It is important to recognize that this test was not as rigorous as an independent test administered by DOE.  Although DOE did come to ORNL in 2000 to assess security at the Lab, they did not run a performance test.

RECOMMENDATION: ORNL should be de-inventoried of all Special Nuclear Materials. The Neptunium-237 should be shipped to the underground storage facility in Idaho . It has generally been assumed that the Uranium-233 could not be transported, nor would it be accepted by Y-12, which is far more capable of protecting the materials.  However, POGO has recently learned from the manager of Y-12 that BWXT, the contractor, would be willing to make the arrangements necessary to store the U-233 if asked to do so by the government.  This request should be made immediately. Furthermore, a decision regarding the feasibility of extracting medical isotopes should be made promptly, in order to allow for downblending the U-233 as quickly as possible. If the U-233 is downblended and an economical way to extract medical isotopes is eventually found, the Russians also have stockpiles of U-233 that could be used for this purpose.

Financial Implications of Changes:

  • Total manpower savings: $180 million
    • Current cost of manpower: $20 million
    • Manpower tripled to meet new DBT
    • Over three years 
  • Unknown Costfor downblending U-233
  • $110 million saved because infrastructure improvements would not be required to meet the new Design Basis Threat.

TOTAL SAVINGS: $290 million

Los Alamos National Laboratory's Technical Area 18

"Getting this material out of TA-18 and to Nevada will assist NNSA in more quickly establishing critical national security missions in Nevada while consolidating special nuclear materials in a newer, more secure facility."

-- NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks, March 31, 2004.[30]

For decades, the Los Alamos National Laboratory's Technical Area 18 (TA-18) has been the most vulnerable site in the entire weapons complex. There is about 1.5 metric tons of Special Nuclear Material and other items at the site, which is situated at the bottom of a canyon (the most indefensible area in the entire weapons complex). In an October 2000 test of security at TA-18, the "terrorists" took over a facility containing large plates of highly-enriched uranium. The protective force could not get them out or "kill" them. Real terrorists would have had plenty of time to create an IND that would have decimated a significant portion of northern New Mexico.

In late 2004, the Department began de-inventorying the notorious TA-18 of its weapons-grade material, and is now preparing to move the material to the more secure Design Assembly Facility at the Nevada Test Site.[31] DOE is scheduled to complete this long-overdue move in September 2005.

NNSA can meet its goal, but DOE Headquarters and Congress should actively oversee the process. As of March 2005, Los Alamos was still pushing to conduct five experiments at the site, which would require a six month slip in schedule. When this was brought to the attention of National Nuclear Security Administration Director Linton Brooks at a closed Congressional hearing, Brooks committed to ensuring these experiments would not cause a schedule slip.

However, NNSA and Los Alamos have a history of ignoring problems and directives. For instance, in 2000, recognizing the insurmountable security problems at the site, then-Secretary Bill Richardson ordered NNSA to remove these materials by the end of 2004. Los Alamos stalled, and NNSA simply did not take any action. In March 2004, then-Secretary Abraham reissued Richardson's order. But the NNSA has a mixed record of addressing this issue. Recent NNSA memos show that senior agency officials were giving conflicting orders about what would happen to TA-18. (APPENDIX J)  Without oversight from higher up, NNSA may yet again do nothing.

The Department's Los Alamos Site Office is aggressively overseeing the move, but there is reason for concern about the pace of the operation. In September 2004, the Department announced with great fanfare that a shipment of Special Nuclear Materials had gone to the Nevada site. It turned out the shipment did not contain weapons-grade material. A weapons-grade shipment went in December, but it contained less than 80 pounds of bomb-grade material.

RECOMMENDATION: TA-18 is currently scheduled to be de-inventoried by the end of 2005, before the new security standards are required to have been fully implemented in 2008. However, POGO has been told that the current schedule is already slipping. Furthermore, some of the surplus material will be stored at the Los Alamos' Technical Area 55 until 2008. Immediate de-inventorying will remove the need for incremental security upgrades in FY2005-FY2008. The material currently slated to be temporarily stored at TA-55 should also be moved from Los Alamos's to the Device Assembly Facility at the Nevada Test Site by the end of FY2005.

Financial Implications of Changes:

  • Total manpower savings: $270 million
    • Current cost of manpower: $30 million
    • Manpower tripled to meet new DBT
    • Over three years 
  • $100 million saved because infrastructure improvements would not be required to meet the new Design Basis Threat.

TOTAL SAVINGS: $370 million

Sandia National Laboratory

Sandia National Laboratory is a nuclear weapons engineering laboratory located in the highly-populated area of Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Kirtland Air Force Base. The only weapons quantities of Special Nuclear Material stored at Sandia are some minor weapons parts and the HEU fuel plates in the Lab's SPR III Burst Reactor, a machine specifically designed to test the effects of radiation on nuclear weapons' components. This still poses a risk to the population because the fuel plates for the burst reactor can be used to make an IND.

There has been a number of embarrassing high-profile security failures at Sandia, including sleeping guards and lost keys to secure areas.[32] Then-Secretary Abraham announced in May 2004 that Sandia will cease operations of the reactor by 2007 and replace it with computer simulations. "This represents an intelligent substitution of advanced technology for brute force, and I applaud it," he stated. The Department has yet to justify any ongoing operations for the burst reactor. However, it intends to keep the reactor until late 2007, at which point Sandia is scheduled to be de-inventoried of its SNM. (APPENDIX B)

Both DOE and the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board have found serious safety problems with Sandia's burst reactor. Resolving these problems will be expensive and time-consuming, another reason for terminating the use of the unnecessary SPR III immediately.

RECOMMENDATION: Immediately de-inventory the SPR III burst reactor's HEU fuel plates and weapons parts, thereby removing the need for incremental security upgrades in FY2005-FY2007. If Lab scientists need to test components, as they claim they will in 2007, they could use the almost-identical burst reactors at the Army's Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland or White Sands facility in New Mexico . DOE should dramatically accelerate plans for de-inventorying Sandia of all Special Nuclear Materials.

Financial Implications of Changes:

  • Total manpower savings: $225 million
    • Current cost of manpower: $25 million
    • Manpower tripled to meet new DBT
    • Over three years 
  • $50 million saved because infrastructure improvements would not be required to meet the new Design Basis Threat.

TOTAL SAVINGS: $275 Million

Hanford Reservation

Hanford produced the plutonium for the Nagasaki bomb and, along with Savannah River, produced the rest of the plutonium stash for U.S. nuclear weapons. In the 1980s, plutonium production was terminated at Hanford. A number of non-weapons research projects continue at Hanford, but there is no requirement for Special Nuclear Materials for the weapons program itself. The de-inventorying of Hanford's SNM has gone on for years, with most Department officials believing there was no SNM left.  However, Hanford has retained a large quantity of plutonium that is not scheduled to be moved until 2007, and some SNM from the Los Alamos Molten Plutonium Reactor Experiment (LAMPRE) for which there are no plans for removal or disposition. (APPENDIX K) This is of particular concern, as Hanford failed a force-on-force exercise after 9/11.

RECOMMENDATION: Ship all the remaining Special Nuclear Materials to Savannah River immediately so that Hanford will not incur the enormous cost of meeting the new Design Basis Threat.

Financial Implications of Changes:

  • Total manpower savings: $225 million
    • Current cost of manpower: $25-30 million
    • Manpower tripled to meet new DBT
    • Over three years 
  • $70 million saved because infrastructure improvements would not be required to meet the new Design Basis Threat.

TOTAL SAVINGS: $295 Million


SITES WITH INADEQUATE SECURITY STANDARDS

Nuclear Fuel Services

Located in Erwin, Tennessee, Nuclear Fuel Services (NFS) is a commercially-operated Category I nuclear fuel facility.  It spans more than 60-acres, with a 21-acre protected area. NFS contains tons of highly-enriched uranium for the production of naval reactor fuel, and downblends HEU.[33] The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) licenses this site and is responsible for testing security, but it has not tested the site's security since 1998. Although problems with security were identified at that time, the Office of Naval Reactors reportedly fixed them quickly.

In October 2004, NRC announced that this site had started downblending 33 metric tons of HEU from Savannah River for the Tennessee Valley Authority's nuclear power plant.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Hold this facility to the same upgraded Design Basis Threat as the Department of Energy's sites.

Shift responsibility for testing security from the NRC to the DOE's Office of Safety and Security Performance Assurance.

Financial Implications of Changes:

  • Total manpower cost: $180 million
    • Current cost of manpower: $20 million
    • Manpower tripled to meet new DOE DBT
    • Over three years 
  • Unknown needs for increased security infrastructure.

TOTAL COST: at least $180 million

Nuclear Products Division of BWXT

Nuclear Products Division is a commercially-operated Category I fuel facility in Lynchburg, Virginia. It spans 437 acres and has 60 buildings and trailers. It houses HEU for the production of naval reactor fuel, and downblends HEU into fuel for commercial reactors. Even though Nuclear Products Division is primarily funded by DOE's Office of Naval Reactors and contains Category I Special Nuclear Materials, the NRC licenses and is responsible for testing security at this site.[34]

RECOMMENDATIONS: Hold this facility to the same upgraded Design Basis Threat as the Department of Energy's sites.

Shift responsibility for testing security from the NRC to the DOE's Office of Safety and Security Performance Assurance or as a minimum ensure consistency of both standards in testing.

Financial Implications of Changes:

  • Total manpower cost: 180 million
    • Current cost of manpower: $20 million
    • Manpower tripled to meet new DOE DBT
    • Over three years
  • Unknown needs for increased security infrastructure.

TOTAL COST: at least $180 million


ON-SITE CONSOLIDATION OPPORTUNITIES

Y-12 Facility at Oak Ridge

"I know that security at the Y-12 facilities at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, is of particular concern to this Subcommittee. These facilities do represent some of the most difficult security problems we face in some parts of the complex – aging, outdated facilities built in the early days of the Cold War – or earlier – when no threat of the current nature was envisioned."

-- NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks, before the House Government Reform National Security Subcommittee, April 27, 2004.[35]

"My concerns about Los Alamos … pale in comparison to the Y-12 facility at Oak Ridge, Tennessee. … That is a very vulnerable site."

-- Representative Chris Shays (R-CT), Chairman of the House Government Reform National Security Subcommittee, November 2003.[36]

The Y-12 plant, located near Knoxville, Tennessee, is an 811-acre compound where the DOE manufactures highly-enriched uranium weapons components. Roughly 700,000 people live within a 100 mile radius of the nuclear facility. The plant, which dates from WWII and the Manhattan Project, is the world's largest repository of highly-enriched uranium in metal form – approximately 400 metric tons. In 1996, 174 metric tons of HEU were declared surplus, meaning that it was no longer necessary for the weapons program. (APPENDIX D)  In his May 2004 speech, then-Secretary Abraham proposed the downblending of 100 additional metric tons (beyond the surplus 174 metric tons) of Y-12's surplus highly-enriched uranium.

However, according to DOE officials, an initial program review of HEU stockpiles across the complex was stymied by complaints from the Office of Naval Reactors, a nearly-autonomous arm of the DOE, claiming they may need it some day for their reactors.  The long-held territorialism by Naval Reactors dates back to its origins under Admiral Hyman Rickover, and presents a formidable bureaucratic hurdle to the downblending of HEU.

Timeline tests have shown that during an attack, intruders can get from outside the fence line to inside one of the six storage buildings that house the HEU in the time it takes to microwave a cup of coffee. Each of these storage buildings is a prime target for a terrorist attack and security at Y-12 is precarious at best. As the site is currently configured, it would be virtually impossible to protect the Special Nuclear Material under the increased Design Basis Threat.

Y-12's security problems first came to light in the early 1980s, when congressional investigators discovered that highly-enriched uranium was being stored in wooden buildings. Since then, and especially during the past 18 months, there have been a series of security debacles that are indicative of the systemic problems at Y-12.

The Department tested the security in 2003 and found it "pretty ugly" – even with the older, weaker standards, Y-12's protective force was unable to defend the site.[37] The same year, the DOE's Inspector General reported that in order to pass government security tests, the security contractor Wackenhut, as well as previous security contractors, had been cheating on security exercises for two decades.[38] And in September 2004, Wackenhut's incompetence during a security drill nearly cost several guards their lives. The drill – an exercise where one group of guards acts as terrorists trying to penetrate the facility – almost degenerated into a live-fire engagement. The Wackenhut officials overseeing the drill mistakenly told an armed group of guards not involved in the drill that the mock attackers were indeed real terrorists. The armed guards deployed and came within seconds of opening fire on their own colleagues.[39]

Wackenhut has further compromised security at Y-12 by forcing the security officers to work 65-72 hours per week causing extraordinary fatigue and low morale. Exacerbating this problem has been Wackenhut's decision to temporarily shift some of Y-12's protective force to another Wackenhut-protected site, the Nevada Test Site, which is inadequately staffed with security officers and had recently failed a DOE security test. This practice has further taxed the security officers remaining at Y-12.

Another problem is the Department's current plan for an above-ground storage facility. Until four years ago, while Lockheed Martin still managed Y-12, there were plans to build an underground or bermed storage facility. Virtually all modern storage facilities are underground, including the Device Assembly Facility (DAF) and KUMSEC at Kirtland Air Force Base.  An underground facility would be much harder to penetrate and would serve as a greater deterrent to terrorists.  U.S. Special Operations Command personnel have told POGO that an above-ground facility is a substantially more vulnerable design and that the underground option is the only credible one. Yet in 2004, the current contractor, BWXT, changed the plan to build an underground or bermed (partially underground and covered with 24 feet of earth) facility to that of an above-ground facility.

This is an artists rendering of the Highly-Enriched Uranium Materials Facility (HEUMF)

Highly-Enriched Uranium
Materials Facility (HEUMF)

Click here for larger view


The Department is currently engaged in site preparation for the above-ground building known as the Highly-Enriched Uranium Materials Facility (HEUMF) to store the plant's hundreds of tons of HEU.  The DOE Inspector General has criticized the design and cost of this new building, concluding that it will cost more and be less secure than the original plan for a bermed facility. Department officials estimate the cost of the HEUMF to be $313 million. Originally, the bermed facility was going to cost $250 million.  (APPENDIX K & APPENDIX L)

In his report, Inspector General Friedman wrote that the HEUMF design will have:

  • Higher life-cycle costs than the original design

  • Personnel security requirements that would be greater than the bermed design

  • More complex construction requirements that may add cost and time to the project schedule

In 2004, Sandia National Lab was asked by NNSA to evaluate the HEUMF plans. It was ultimately Sandia's approval of this design that persuaded DOE Headquarters to give the green light for the above-ground building.  POGO has learned, however, that the Sandia study never made a comparison of the HEUMF design to an underground or bermed design, explaining in the small print they did not want to have to consider an entire redesign for the building.  Ironically, it was an earlier Sandia study, the 1999 Hagengruber Report, that had recommended using existing designs from two other government-owned underground facilities to solve the Y-12 storage problem.

There are also plans to build a second building identical to the HEUMF to house the manufacturing of weapons parts from HEU.  It is a poor security practice to create two targets, and inefficient at best to have two separate buildings between which the materials must be transported regularly, creating further risk as well as dramatically increasing security costs.

RECOMMENDATION:  Immediately stop work on the above-ground HEUMF storage facility and reconsider building a bermed facility to store both the non-surplus HEU as well as the new modern manufacturing facility. This would result in substantially better security against terrorist attacks.  A modified DAF design could accommodate both functions.

The schedule for downblending the surplus 174 metric tons (MT) of HEU should be significantly accelerated. Only 34 MTs have been downblended.  Currently, plans are to complete downblending only 64 MTs by 2006.  The rest is not scheduled for downblending until 2016. An additional 100 MTs should also be considered for being declared surplus.  This would leave at least 100 MTs of HEU that could be set aside for naval reactors.  The reduced stockpiles of HEU will significantly reduce storage needs.

Financial Implications of Changes:

  • $50-100 millionsaved from canceling the HEUMF project and building a bermed or underground structure to house both the storage and manufacturing facilities.
  • $600 million-1.2 billionsaved by not constructing a separate manufacturing building.
  • $100 millionsaved in reduced PIDAS costs, because there will be only one rather than two perimeters at $14,000 per linear foot.
  • Total manpower savings: $270 million
    • Current cost of manpower: $30 million
    • Manpower tripled to meet new DBT
    • Over three years 
  • The sale of downblended low-enriched uranium for power reactor fuel will help to offset the cost of downblending.

TOTAL SAVINGS: $1.2 - 1.67 billion

Pantex Plant

Pantex is the assembly/disassembly facility for nuclear weapons in Amarillo, Texas. It stores thousands of plutonium pits, some from 40-50 year old weapons, in World War II era bunkers in an area called "Zone 4." Zone 4 borders the end of an Amarillo airport runway. There has been concern for over 30 years about a plane, either accidentally or intentionally, crashing into these bunkers and causing a major radiological dispersal of plutonium.

For years, security officials have talked about instituting no-fly zones over Pantex, or closing certain runways at the Amarillo airport, but have never done so.  However, "no-fly" zones will not stop a suicidal terrorist.

RECOMMENDATION: These plutonium pits will never be used in either refurbished or new nuclear weapons.  They should be declared surplus plutonium and immobilized as soon as possible at Pantex.  In the meantime, plutonium in Zone 4 should be consolidated on-site to the more appropriately-located and secure Zone 12.  Reconsider building the Plutonium Immobilization Plant and the Pit Disassembly and Conversion Facility underground at Pantex, particularly given the proximity to the airport.  Concerns about the impact to the aquifer must be taken into account.

Financial Implications of Changes:

  • Total manpower savings: $90 million
    • Current cost of manpower for Zone 4: $10-15 million
    • Manpower tripled to meet new DBT
    • Over three years 
  • $50 million saved in infrastructure upgrades no longer needed to meet new Design Basis Threat.

TOTAL SAVINGS: $140 million


UNUSED SECURE STORAGE SITES

Device Assembly Facility (DAF) at the Nevada Test Site

"… recent significant physical security performance problems at Nevada Test Site that had … not been detected by NNSA oversight combine to suggest a systematic problem [in the complex]."

-- Deputy Secretary Kyle McSlarrow and NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks, January 21, 2005.[40]

This is a photograph of the Device Assembly Facility (DAF) at the Nevada Test Site

Device Assembly Facility (DAF)
at the Nevada Test Site

Photo courtesy of Globalsecurity.org

Click here for larger view

The 300,000 square-foot Device Assembly Facility (DAF), a partially-underground bermed facility at the Nevada Test Site (NTS), is the most secure storage facility in the country.  It was built in the early 1990s where both the Los Alamos and Livermore Labs could assemble their nuclear weapons for underground testing. By the time it was completed, the test program had ended.  It has been operational since 1996, but empty. DOE is in the process of moving the SNM from Los Alamos' TA-18 to the DAF, making it a Category I facility.  While shipments have begun, there have not yet been any shipments of weapons quantities of materials.  This move is scheduled to be completed by the end of September 2005.

However, NNSA and security contractor Wackenhut did not increase the protective force in preparation for these materials, nor did they conduct adequate training or performance testing.  In August 2004, a force-on-force was conducted by DOE Headquarters.  Wackenhut guards were not able to defend the facility.  In fact, during the test, there was a friendly-fire incident in which one guard "shot" another with laser equipment. The incident degenerated into a fist fight.  As a result of the security failures, the NNSA security director at the site was forced to retire. Wackenhut has had to transfer guards from an already-depleted guard force at Y-12 to bolster the force at the DAF.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Increase the size of the protective force, and increase training and improve their defensive strategy.

Financial Implications of Changes:

  • Total manpower cost: $90 million
    • $10 millionadditional annual cost in increased size of protective force and increased training.
    • Manpower tripled to meet new DBT
    • Over three years

TOTAL COST: $90 million

Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL)

"The [Fuel Processing Restoration (FPR)] offers an opportunity to consolidate materials into a secure facility and minimize resource expenditures at other locations."

-- Internal Department of Energy document, December 2004.

Idaho Building 691

Click here for larger view

INEEL is one of only two facilities in the entire nuclear weapons complex to have an appropriately-secure repository for Special Nuclear Materials. The great irony is that this facility is the only site in the complex expected to meet its schedule for de-inventorying (by Summer 2005).

Newly re-discovered is a 170,000 square-foot underground facility – it had been largely forgotten by DOE Headquarters. The facility, INEELs Fuel Processing Restoration facility, or Building 691, was designed for long-term storage and security. Built in a remote area, DOE started constructing Building 691 in the 1980s as an underground facility for reprocessing spent nuclear fuel. In 1992, the program was abandoned and construction halted. Incredibly, Building 691 was slated for destruction – or as Department personnel strangely refer to it, "rubblization" – until government officials began questioning whether this facility could fulfill most of the needs for underground storage for the complex. (APPENDIX M)

The Department's current construction and demolition plans are logically invalid: NNSA plans to construct a costly and poorly designed above-ground facility at Y-12 to store Special Nuclear Materials, despite criticism of the proposed facility by the Department's own Inspector General and other top Energy officials; at the same time, until 2004, the Department planned to "rubblize" the massive and secure underground Building 691 – a building which is all-but completed. The cost to finish it would be minimal. Clearly these two operations make no sense, and they are illustrative of the bumbling approach DOE officials often take to nuclear security.

The Department has now set aside $10 million for a feasibility study on using Building 691.  DOE officials believe, "Conservatively, based on the volume available, approximately 130 Metric Tons (MT) of Plutonium or 260 MT of Uranium could be stored in the facility."[41] This underground facility has numerous benefits, notably that it has never been used, which means there is no threat of the building being contaminated by previously stored nuclear weapons materials. (APPENDIX M)

When construction was terminated on Building 691 thirteen years ago, over $450 million had already been spent on the construction of this facility. At the time, Lab officials estimated it would cost $12 million to finish the project (this included completing the fire suppression system and electrical and plumbing systems), approximately $20 million in today's dollars.

Department officials now estimate it would take $100 million to $200 million to complete the Idaho facility in order to store significant quantities of weapons-grade materials, but serious questions have been raised about the validity of these estimates. No one has yet explained why the cost is so high. Even using the estimate of $100 to 200 million, officials believe the "payback period" would be less than six years after the facility becomes fully operational. (APPENDIX M)

INEEL contains 1.4 metric tons of Special Nuclear Materials. There is no weapons-related need for this material, nor is there a research related requirement for it. The Lab is scheduled to complete de-inventorying all weapons-grade material to Savannah River and Y-12 by mid-2005.

RECOMMENDATION: NNSA should immediately prepare INEEL Building 691 for use by 2006.  Serious consideration should be given to moving Argonne West's NASA space battery mission over to another of INEEL's existing and well-designed but under-used buildings, Building 651.

Financial Implications of Changes:

  • Initial cost of approximately $100 million(despite inflated estimates) to complete and reconfigure Building 691 for storage of HEU and plutonium. Some DOE officials expect the building to pay for itself in less than six years.
  • Initial cost of $50 million for preparing Building 651 for transferring NASA's battery mission to INEEL site.

TOTAL COST: $150 million


FACILITIES THAT SHOULD ULTIMATELY BE DE-INVENTORIED

Argonne National Laboratory, West

In February 2005, INEEL and the Argonne National Laboratory, West were merged into one, becoming Idaho National Laboratory.  As a result of this merger, the significant security vulnerabilities existing at Argonne West have now become INEEL's problem.  At the same time, there are two unused facilities at INEEL that could be the answer to a number of problems existing around the complex.

In 2004, DOE transferred the production of nuclear generators, which use Plutonium-238 (irradiated Neptunium-237), for NASA's space program to Argonne West. Plutonium-238 is considered extremely lethal and presents an enormous radiological sabotage ("dirty bomb") concern, although not an IND concern.  Argonne West is in the initial stages of building a facility with vaults designed to store this SNM. Unfortunately, they overlooked the possibility of using INEEL's Building 651 for this program.

In addition, Argonne West has more than nine tons of highly-enriched uranium and plutonium. There is no weapons-related need for this material. The Lab spends more money to protect this unneeded Special Nuclear Material than it does on its actual programs.

Two years ago, when DOE's Independent Oversight office tested Argonne West's security, they found it unsatisfactory – the facility would be unable to protect the tons of highly-enriched uranium and plutonium from a terrorist attack.

Argonne West has had serious problems developing a new site security plan and tactical plan for the new DBT.  Their analysis to date indicates that they are woefully understaffed even to deal with the pre-9/11 threats.

RECOMMENDATION: DOE should temporarily augment Argonne West's security force, which is seriously depleted, with security force members from INEEL.

Because there is no nuclear weapons-related mission requiring any Special Nuclear Material at Argonne West, the more than nine tons of weapons material should be de-inventoried before any additional money is spent on expensive security and structural upgrades. As soon as Building 691 at INEEL is ready, Argonne West's Special Nuclear Materials, as well as its protective force, should be relocated to the INEEL underground facility.

Serious consideration should be given to moving Argonne West's NASA space battery mission over to INEEL.  Otherwise, this work will be the only program requiring SNM at the poorly defended Argonne West.

Financial Implications of Changes:

  • With the temporary removal of Special Nuclear Materials from INEEL, DOE can shift guards from that lab to Argonne West, at no cost.  
  • $75 million savings because infrastructure improvements would not be required to meet the new Design Basis Threat at Argonne West.

TOTAL SAVINGS: $75 million

Savannah River Site

Savannah River is located about 20 miles south of Aiken, South Carolina and spreads across 315 square miles. Almost 500,000 people live within 100 miles of Savannah River. It formerly produced plutonium and tritium for the weapons program, but the production reactors have been shut down since the early 1990s. Things are in serious flux at Savannah River, where plans for the Plutonium Immobilization Plant have been cancelled; and plans for the Pit Disassembly and Conversion Facility, the Modern Pit Facility, and the Mixed-Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (in which DOE would turn 34 tons of plutonium into mixed-oxide fuel (MOX) for nuclear power reactors) are stalled.[42] (Appendix N) In addition to the 34 tons of plutonium slated to be turned into MOX, there remains at least 50 additional metric tons of plutonium that should be declared excess and immobilized.

Savannah River is the U.S.'s main repository for plutonium and stores it in three locations on site, although the majority of its plutonium is stored in the old K Reactor building. DOE plans to consolidate all of Savannah River 's plutonium from the other areas into the K Reactor building.  However, if DOE plans to move ahead with building the new facilities, Savannah River will again have several Category I targets to protect.

Generally, security at Savannah River has been better than at most of the Category I sites in the nuclear complex.  However, currently there is no nuclear weapons mission for most of the plutonium stored there.

RECOMMENDATION: Reconsider the plans to turn plutonium into mixed-oxide fuel. The plans are years behind schedule and costs are rising dramatically. Furthermore, MOX fuel would remain a terrorist target while being produced and while being transported and stored at the commercial reactors where it is slated to be irradiated.

Rather than creating a new mission for SNM at Savannah River , reconsider building the Plutonium Immobilization Plant and the Pit Disassembly and Conversion Facility at Pantex instead, where the vast majority of the plutonium pits are currently stored.[43]

As soon as is feasible, begin immobilization of the 34 metric tons of plutonium that have been declared surplus. Consider declaring an additional 50 tons as surplus, both from Savannah River and Pantex.

Transfer the remaining plutonium, potentially required for new pits, to INEEL's Building 691 or the underground DAF at the Nevada Test Site. Ultimately de-inventory Savannah River of all Special Nuclear Materials.

Financial Implications of Changes:

  • Total manpower savings: $360 million
    • Current cost of manpower: $40-45 million
    • Manpower tripled to meet new DBT
    • Over three years 
  • $100 million saved because infrastructure improvements would not be required to meet the new Design Basis Threat.

TOTAL SAVINGS: $460 million


Glossary

BWXT – BWX Technologies, Inc. Current contractor at Y-12 facility

CAT I – Category I Site

DAF – Device Assembly Facility at the Nevada Test Site

DBT – Design Basis Threat

DOD – Department of Defense

DOE – Department of Energy

ESE – Energy Department's Office of Energy, Science and Environment

GAO – Government Accountability Office

HEUMF – Highly-Enriched Uranium Materials Facility

HEU – Highly-Enriched Uranium

IAEA – United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency

IND – Improvised Nuclear Device

INEEL – Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory

MOX – Mixed-Oxide Fuel

MT – Metric Tons

NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NFS – Nuclear Fuel Services

NTS – Nevada Test Site

NNSA – National Nuclear Security Administration

NRC – Nuclear Regulatory Commission

OA – Energy Department's Office of Safety and Security Performance Assurance

ORNL – Oak Ridge National Laboratory

PIDAS – Perimeter Intrusion Detection Assessment System

PU – Plutonium

SNM – Special Nuclear Material

TA – Technical Area


Appendices

Appendix A:

"LANL Adds to Nukes," Adam Rankin, Albuquerque Journal, October 20, 2002.

"Neptunium criticality achieved," Kevin Roark, Los Alamos National Laboratory Website, http://www.lanl.gov/worldview/news/releases/archive/O2-118.shtml, October 17, 2002.

"Special Nuclear Material," Fact Sheet, Nuclear Regulatory Commission Website, http://www.nrc.gov/materials/sp-nucmaterials.html, February 20, 2005.

Click here to see Appendix A

Appendix B: Remarks of Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham for the 32nd Annual Security Police Officer Training Competition, May 7, 2004.

Appendix C: "Secretarial Security Initiatives, October Status Summary," Director Glenn Podonsky, Department of Energy Office of Safety and Security Performance Assurance, November 8, 2004.

Appendix D: "U.S. Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) Disposition – Overview," Acting Deputy Director Dean R. Tousley, Office of Disposition Projects National Nuclear Security Administration, January 26, 2005.

Appendix E: "U.S. – Russian Fissile Materials Disposition Programs," Acting Director Joe Olencz, Office of Disposition Projects, Office of Fissile Materials Dispositon, National Nuclear Security Administration, January 2005.

Appendix F: "Draft Site-wide Environmental Impact Statement for Continued Operation of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Supplemental Stockpiler Stewardship and Management Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement," Summary prepared by National Nuclear Security Administration, February 2004.

Appendix G: E-mail from Eric R. Steele to Martin Trester Re: "How to restore PFD's [Protective Force Reduction] Reputation," October 17, 2003.

Appendix H: Alternative Futures Document prepared for the Department of Energy National Laboratories by the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board, "Task Force on Alternative Futures for the Department of Energy National Laboratories," February 1995.

Appendix I: Letter from John T. Conway, Chairman of Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, to the Honorable Robert Gordon Card, Under Secretary of Energy, Science and Environment, July 30, 2002.

Appendix J:

E-mail from Tracey Bishop to Christopher Steele, CC: Michael Thompson, Eugene "Gene" Rodriguez, and Dorothy M. Newell, Re: "Request for LASO Position on TA-18," February 23, 2004.

Letter from National Nuclear Security Administration Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs, Everet H. Beckner, to POGO Executive Director, Danielle Brian, May 12, 2004.

Click here to see Appendix J

Appendix K: "Savannah River Site Canyons Nuclear Material Identification Study," U.S. Department of Energy Office of Environmental Management, February 2001.

Appendix L: Memorandum from Department of Energy Inspector General Gregory H. Friedman to the Secretary of Energy, "Audit Report on the 'Design of the Uranium Storage Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex,'" March 19, 2004.

Appendix M: Internal Department of Energy Document, "Use of the Idaho Fuel Processing Restoration (FPR) Building 691 as a Repository," 2004.

Appendix N: Senate Report 107-151 – National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2003 Report [To Accompany S. 2514] on Authorizing Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2003 for Military Activities of the Department of Defense, for Military Construction, and for Defense Activities of the Department of Energy, to Prescribe Personnel Strengths for Such Fiscal Year for the Armed Forces, and for Other Purposes Together with Additional and Minority Views; Subtitle F – Disposition of Weapons-Usable Plutonium at Savannah River, South Carolina (section 3181-3183).

Appendix O: Letter from John T. Conway, Chairman, Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board, to Linton Brooks Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration, March 8, 2005.


Endnotes

1. http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2004/02/20040211-4.html
(downloaded March 23 , 2005).

2. The Design Basis Threat (DBT) describes the level of threat the protective force is required to defend against – the number of outside attackers and inside conspirators, and the kinds of weapons and size of truck bombs that would be available to terrorists. The NRC created a slightly higher DBT for its nuclear weapons sites than the weak standard it uses for commercial nuclear power plants.

3. http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04623.pdf
(downloaded March 23 , 2005).

4. The first attempt to increase security didn't result in very significant changes. The second increase, however, was far more significant because the new standards finally took into account the possibility of Improvised Nuclear Devices.

5. This manpower cost is equivalent to 1,000 new 24/7 posts for these seven sites and does not include the six Category 1 nuclear sites not under the purview of NNSA.

6. A limited number of facilities already use activated barriers such as sticky foam and cold smoke or other barriers, which are released when the doors of a vault are opened without proper authorization.  This type of mechanism is a very effective delay mechanism, and can significantly reduce the necessity for the much more expensive recurring costs of protective forces.

7. Known as a Perimeter Intrusion Detection Assessment System (PIDAS).

8. Ferguson, Charles. The Four Faces of Nuclear Terrorism. Monterey Institute of International Studies Center for Nonproliferation Studies, CA, 2004. Foreword.

9. One can also make an improvised bomb out of plutonium, but it takes longer to complete.

10. POGO was able to piece together open source material, and had both the National Security Council and the Pentagon review the 2001 report before releasing it publicly.

11. According to a witness at the meeting.

12. McPhee, John. The Curve of Binding Energy. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux: New York . 1974, pp. 189-194; and

Ferguson , Charles D. and William C. Potter. "Improvised Nuclear Devices and Nuclear Terrorism." Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, Summer 2004, p.12.
http://www.wmdcommission.org
(downloaded March 23 , 2005).

13. Alvarez, Luis W. Alvarez: Adventures of a Physicist. Basic Books: New York . 1987, p. 125.

14. Wald, Matthew L. "Suicidal Nuclear Threat Is Seen at Weapon's Plants." New York Times, January 22, 2002 .

15. http://www.isis-online.org/publications/fmct/primer/Section_I.html
(downloaded March 23, 2005).

16. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which licenses the commercial nuclear power plants that create neptunium in their waste, still does not recognize neptunium as a Special Nuclear Material.  Neptunium is not easy to obtain from U.S. commercial reactors, as U.S. spent fuel is not reprocessed. However, many European and Asian countries do reprocess theirs. As Los Alamos scientist Steve Clement commented, "There is a lot of neptunium out there in the world."

17. http://www.nti.org/e_research/cnwm/overview/technical2.asp?print=true
(downloaded March 23, 2005).

18. Downblending is the reduction of uranium enrichment levels from 80-90% to less than 20%.

19. This was commonly known as the Scowcroft Report, after former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, who chaired the commission.

20. Lyman, Edwin. "Disposition of Fissile Materials: Status and Prospects." Discussion Paper for Stanford Summer Study on Fissile Materials, August 18-22, 2003 .

21. http://reform.house.gov/UploadedFiles/BrooksAprilTestimony.pdf
(downloaded March 23 , 2005).

22. A plutonium pit is the plutonium part of a nuclear weapon, and is in the shape of a sphere.

23. POGO has been asked by the DOE to refrain from naming the weapons the protective force at Lawrence Livermore is lacking.

24. There are two facilities named Sandia: one is in Albuquerque, NM and the other is right next to Lawrence Livermore in the San Francisco Bay Area.

25. http://www.ig.doe.gov/pdf/ig-0658.pdf
(downloaded February 20, 2005).

26. Vartabedian, Ralph. "Removing Nuclear Material From Livermore Examined; Safety overhaul includes diluting uranium and possibly federalizing on-site security guards." Los Angeles Times, May 8, 2004.

27. POGO remains neutral on the question of maintaining the two design labs.

28. Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board. Savannah River Site Canyon Utilization. March 2002. http://www.dnfsb.gov/pub_docs/srs/tr_20020321_sr.pdf
(downloaded March 23 , 2005).

29. Perimeter Intrusion Detection Assessment System (PIDAS)

30. http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=28225
(downloaded March 23, 2005).

31. http://www.pogoarchives.org/m/hsp/hsp-TA18closure-082004.pdf
(downloaded February 20, 2005).

32. "Nuclear Insecurity." CBS News' 60 Minutes, August 29, 2004 .  http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/02/12/60minutes/main599957.shtml
(downloaded March 23 , 2005).

33. http://www.nuclearfuelservices.com
(downloaded March 23 , 2005).

34. http://www.bwxt.com/operations/npd.html
(downloaded March 23 , 2005).

35. http://reform.house.gov/UploadedFiles/BrooksAprilTestimony.pdf
(downloaded March 23 , 2005).

36. Hertsgaard, Mark. "Nuclear Insecurity." Vanity Fair, November 2003, p. 190.

37. http://www.pogo.org/pogo-files/investigative-leads/nuclear-security-safety/nss-y12-20040115.html
(downloaded March 23, 2005).

38. http://www.ig.doe.gov/pdf/ig-0636.pdf
(downloaded March 2 3 , 2005).

39. http://www.pogoarchives.org/m/hsp/hsp-nytimes-12212004.pdf
(downloaded February 20, 2005).

40. http://www.pogoarchives.org/m/hsp/hsp-01262005-Abraham.pdf
(downloaded February 20, 2005).

41. The 130 metric tons of PU described in the document is interesting, as the U.S. government has never admitted producing more than approximately 100 metric tons of PU for the weapons program.

42. Federal law requires that the Mixed-Oxide Fuel plant start producing fuel by 2009 so that surplus plutonium shipped to South Carolina will be used up by 2019 or the federal government must pay the State a fine of $1 million per day.

43. Concerns about the Ogalalla Aquifer must be addressed for this plan to be feasible.

 

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