Jul 1, 2007

Delivery of first plutonium pit draws visitors

ROGER SNODGRASS Monitor Assistant Editor

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).


Anonymous said...

And thus begins the new era of Rocky Flats South. Pit production is LANL's future from this point on. Enjoy.

Anonymous said...

I was wondering when this major milestone would make the news. We've heard nothing but bad press over the past few weeks. About time we hear successful stories.

Anonymous said...

Let's hope they don't blow....oops, thats D'Agastino

Anonymous said...

Pinky, I think you'll definitely want to add the latest Sunday editorial from the Los Alamos Monitor to the blog front page:

What Now? - LA Monitor, July 1


Anonymous said...

Why bother the project is D.O.A. as far as LANL is concerned...maybe we can make baseballs that look like "Pits"...at TA 55....they may pay better....

Anonymous said...

The 4th of July is coming up and this certifiable pit would make a dandy firework, wouldn't it? I say we have NNSA agree to let us use it for our Fourth celebrations to see if it really works. Maybe it's a dud. We'll never know for sure until we try it. Dingell and Stupak could do the honors of lighting the fuse and then run like hell before it blows.

Anonymous said...

Wow! Another Pu pit for the world to savor. What an accomplishment!

Anonymous said...

This group for the PIT dog and pony show, won't even know what they are looking at. God help us if this is what it comes down to here."Gee Look MA, its a trigger".

Anonymous said...

For a moment, I thought I our arrogance was slipping . . . I should not have worried.

Anonymous said...

Rest assured Senator Pit Domenici is happy as a clam. They don't call him St. Pit for nothing.