Jul 1, 2007
Los Alamos National Laboratory will host a group of national officials Monday, marking the resumption of a manufacturing capability considered critical to the maintenance of nuclear weapons.
Since the Rocky Flats plant in Colorado was closed in 1989, the nation has lacked the ability to make triggers, known as pits, for its nuclear weapons.
The occasion marks the first pit accepted for delivery to the nation's nuclear stockpile, signifying that the capability has been restored.
The W-88 pit is used on submarine-launched Trident II missiles. In a recent list of achievements for this year, LANL said it would complete 10 war-reserve pits by the end of September.
A Congressional Research Service document in 2004 on pit production issues explained that a war-reserve pit is a certified pit, as distinguished from a certifiable pit.
The laboratory has produced certifiable pits over the last few years using approved processes and standards, but a certified pit, qualified to be used in the deployed nuclear arsenal, must meet demanding performance standards as a product.
Without testing, the report stated, the laboratory was expected to demonstrate through computer models, various large and small scale experiments and archived data from past nuclear tests "that Los Alamos pits are equivalent to Rocky Flats pits in many key characteristics."
The guests for Monday's tour and ceremonies will include Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M.; Rep. Heather Wilson, R-N.M.; and Bill Ostendorff, acting administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration.
Also Monday, a collection of groups advocating changes in the laboratory mission in view of contemporary security threats and energy challenges, plan to hold an alternative meeting in the Tyuonyi Room , Hilltop House Hotel (Best Western), 400 Trinity Drive at Central Avenue.
The group includes Mike McCally, executive director, Physicians for Social Responsibility; Jay Coghlan, director, Nuclear Watch New Mexico; Barbara Dua, New Mexico Conference of Churches; and Bob Peurifoy, retired vice resident of Sandia National Laboratory (by teleconference).