DOE weapons, nonproliferation, cleanup programs
The Senate and House agreed to authorize about $9.6 billion for the National Nuclear Security Administration, very close to the number both bodies originally allotted. It would give $6.5 billion for weapons activities and $1.9 billion for nonproliferation activities.
The final conference bill does not mention any authorization for an International Atomic Energy Agency nuclear fuel bank -- a $50 million provision the Senate had in its original bill. But the report stresses the importance of nonproliferation, providing $50 million for the International Nuclear Materials Protection and Cooperation program and the Global Threat Reduction Initiative. They also included multiple measures for DOE and the president to report on international efforts to secure nuclear materials.
Defense environmental cleanup activities received $5.4 billion with a request for a report on the lifecycle costs of the program and a timeline of when the projects might be finished. The conference report detailed that $9 million be given for design and engineering plans for a plutonium vitrification plant -- a process where plutonium is encased in glass for disposal -- as well as $292 million for defense nuclear waste disposal.
Material and supply security is also a key element of the report. The national laboratory at Los Alamos is authorized to receive $49 million for security safeguard upgrades and about $6 million is given to DOE for "energy security and assurances programs necessary for national security." Congress also wants an ongoing report on security protocols for the nuclear complex and a biannual report on the country's readiness to perform an underground nuclear test if necessary.
The Senate's proposal requiring the Reliable Replacement Warhead program to only remain at research levels was kept in the conference report, as was the House's provision to research the possibility of using plutonium from old pits in new warheads.
The conference report also achieved a compromise in the fissile materials disposition program so that DOE can use 75 percent of its authorization until it provides a detailed account of its previous expenditures and how any unused funds will be used. The report directs that any extra funds be used for nuclear nonproliferation activities.