Jul 30, 2007

LANL Tax Payments Lower Than Early Estimates

By Raam Wong
Journal Northern Bureau

LOS ALAMOS— Los Alamos National Laboratory's annual gross receipts tax payments could be significantly lower than previously projected, meaning less money for state and local government coffers.

The lab became subject to the tax when a for-profit corporation took over lab management from the University of California, a nonprofit, in June 2006.

Then, LANL and state officials estimated the lab's annual tax payments could total nearly $90 million. Now, officials say payments are more likely to be between $50 million to $80 million.

The reason for the revised estimate is that the lab's new corporate manager, Los Alamos National Security, has been in continuous discussions with the state Taxation and Revenue Department and an independent accountant in an effort to pinpoint exactly what lab business is and what is not taxable.

One exception found so far: the lab's out-of-state work, most notably weapons research at the Nevada Test Site, will not be subject to the tax, LANL spokesman Kevin Roark told the Journal on Friday.

Other nontaxable activities include educational outreach and contracting with small or minority businesses.

The lab is also looking at whether it can deduct its production of nuclear weapons triggers, known as pits, which are shipped to the Pantex nuclear weapons plant, in Amarillo.

"It's one of those negotiating points," Roark said. The state tax department is conducting an ongoing audit of the lab's gross receipts tax payments, Roark said.

The lab formerly paid about $35 million in gross receipts taxes annually because its manager, University of California, was exempt from a large share of the taxes because of its nonprofit status.

When the lab management was transferred to Los Alamos National Security, state lawmakers salivated over the estimated windfall— $50 million a year to state coffers and $40 million to Los Alamos County.

In March, county officials announced plans to share some of that new wealth with surrounding cities and counties in the form of regional transportation projects, health care and other initiatives.

But lab officials said the lab's tax bill was intentionally overestimated to avoid budget problems.

"No one realistically thought (the tax) was going to be that high," Roark said.
The lab's new estimate of between $50 million and $80 million includes the approximately $35 million that the lab was already paying.

Rep. Jeannette Wallace, R-Los Alamos, acknowledged that state and local governments would likely see less tax revenue from the lab than previously thought.

But she added that lower tax payments make it less likely that the cash-strapped lab will have to lay off workers. "There's been a pro and con all along," Wallace said.

LANL director Michael Anastasio on Friday cited the new tax liability as one reason money is so tight at the lab. Anastasio told the state Legislature's LANL Oversight Committee that the lab has had to cut contract positions, travel, maintenance and other expenses to make ends meet.

Before the management switch, the idea of taxing the lab— northern New Mexico's largest employer— had been bandied about by legislators and others for years. Supporters of such a move pointed to Sandia National Laboratory, which provides similar services but pays the tax because it is operated by a private corporation.

Jul 29, 2007

LANL's Mission

Mike's excuse that only Congress can change LANL's mission is a cop-out. Look at Sandia -- approximately 50% of their budget comes from WFO sponsors. Why? Because SNL management has over the years had the foresight to *encourage* staff to persue WFO, rather than to discourage them to do so, as has been the case with LANL management. LANL has had the opportunity to diversify for as long as I've worked there, and has steadfastly chosen not to do so. To use Congress as the excuse now for LANL having but a single narrow mission is disingenuous, and it appears that staff will now start to pay the price for management's shortsightedness: with their jobs.


Jul 28, 2007

LANL Work Force Stable Through September, Director Says

By Deborah Baker
Journal Staff Writer

SANTA FE — Jittery workers at Los Alamos National Laboratory won't have to worry about their jobs for at least the next couple of months, director Michael Anastasio says.

Anastasio said there would be no further cuts at the nuclear weapons lab before the new federal budget year begins Oct. 1.

"I'm confident that we will not have to do anything ... through the end of September,'' he told an oversight committee Friday.

What happens after that depends on what level of funding is authorized by Congress for the new fiscal year.

The House slashed $300 million from the lab's budget, which currently is nearly $2.2 billion, signaling the exasperation of key House leaders with years of safety and security lapses at Los Alamos.

The Senate hasn't voted yet, but its bill leaves the budget mostly unchanged. A conference committee would produce the final version.

If the House spending plan was adopted there would have to be job cuts, said Anastasio, who just finished his first year as head of the lab under its new, private operator, Los Alamos National Security LLC.

But he said the outcome of budget negotiations is far from certain.

"I know there's a lot of anxiety ... I don't want to heighten the anxiety of the employees and make them feel like I'm predicting it's going to happen,'' he said.

The lab had to do some belt-tightening this year because of higher costs due to the new management setup. It lost a tax break it enjoyed when it was run by the University of California, for example, and had to pay the state an additional $50 million this year.

More than 300 contract jobs were eliminated in the year that ended June 30, the director said. In addition, there was the usual turnover — including retirements — that accounted for about 370 additional departures, Anastasio said. Some of those jobs were filled, but lab officials were unable to say how many.

According to figures provided earlier by the lab, there were more than 12,000 workers as of the end of April. Just over 9,000 of them were LANS employees, 1,000 or so were students and postdoctoral researchers and more than 2,000 were contractors, including security and maintenance workers.

If next year's budget remains much the same as this year's, no drastic changes will be needed in the work force, Anastasio said.

Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said in a written statement to the committee that the funding fight in Congress is a signal "that change is needed'' if the lab's future is to be secure.

He said it is "now up to LANS to decide whether it wants to diversify and thrive, or remain focused only on its current mission, which, as we have seen this year, means an uphill battle.''

Anastasio told the panel that the lab — where the atomic bomb was born — is "grounded in our heritage and history'' and that nuclear weapons are an important deterrent and part of the nation's defense.

Nearly 70 percent of the lab's work is defense or national security or weapons-related, according to lab officials.

But Anastasio said the lab's mission had undergone shifts since its founding in 1943, and that it welcomed any new work the federal government wanted it to do — and provided funding for.

The lab doesn't set policy, he told lawmakers.

"I would love to have a huge program at this laboratory to deal with the challenge of water,'' in areas such as water management, distribution and contamination cleanup, Anastasio said.

State legislators expressed concern that changing the lab's core mission from nuclear weapons work to energy or another focus would jeopardize national defense and erode the influence of the facility, which is northern New Mexico's largest employer.

State lawmaker encourages LANL to diversify

By ANDY LENDERMAN | The New Mexican
July 27, 2007

An influential state lawmaker urged Los Alamos National Laboratory at a hearing Friday to diversify its mission to include more energy research. But the lab’s director, Michael Anastasio, told a legislative committee that Congress decides that mission, and the lab simply follows orders.

State Sen. Phil Griego, D-San Jose, urged lab directors Friday to pay attention to what the U.S. House of Representatives has voted for this year, 312-112: less money for nuclear weapons research and development, and more for energy research around the country.

Griego, co-chairman of the Legislature’s LANL Oversight Committee, urged Anastasio to get ready for possible changes to the lab’s budget.

“I think ... that if we don’t heed to the sentiments of Congress and start moving in a direction that Sandia has moved in ... I think in the long run, Los Alamos is going to get hurt,” Griego said at the hearing.

Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque has a somewhat more diversified budget than Los Alamos.

“The mix of missions and the relative priorities change, and that’s what Congress decides every year when they pass a budget,” Anastasio said. “But I have to say that right now, the basic capability of the laboratory is paid for by the stockpile stewardship program.”

That program, which maintains the country’s nuclear weapons without underground testing, makes up 57 percent of the lab’s budget, Associate Director Terry Wallace said. About 20 percent goes to nuclear nonproliferation, 10 percent to basic science, 7 percent to energy and 6 percent to security, he said.

“It would require a significant action on the part of Congress and the Department of Energy to fundamentally change and dramatically change the mission of the laboratory,” Anastasio said. “And, of course, it would require dramatic change at the laboratory, because if we were to fundamentally change our mission, it would probably require a different skill mix of both the technical work force and the scientific work force.”

In his testimony, Wallace said, “We have the obligation ... to maintain the nuclear arsenal because we invented it.”

The lab reported this spring that its workforce of 12,176 consists of 9,066 permanent employees, 2,020 contract workers and 1,090 students and researchers. The contract work force was reduced by 401 employees from June 2006 to April 30, 2007.

U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., who also wants a change in the lab’s mission, wrote to members of the oversight committee: “The process to this point must serve as a signal that change is needed if the funding — and the permanence — of the lab is to be certain.”

Udall has been criticized for voting for a House bill that would essentially cut about $400 million from weapons work at Sandia and Los Alamos, with Los Alamos bearing the brunt of the cuts to its $2.1 billion budget. However, a Senate committee has suggested restoring those cuts, and it’s unclear what the lab’s final budget will be.

Anastasio also said he’s aware that the work force and the community have a high level of anxiety about the lab’s budget, and that’s why he went to Washington this week to meet with lawmakers.

“We have to await their decisions before I can make any decision about whether there’s going to be a need to reduce the overall workforce at the laboratory,” he said.

However, there won’t be any changes this fiscal year, Anastasio said, since the lab has absorbed new costs by cutting travel and maintenance work and not filling some jobs when people leave, among other “belt-tightening” measures.

Contact Andy Lenderman at 995-3827 or alenderman@sfnewmexican.com.

Jul 27, 2007

Lab gets an 'outstanding' rating from NNSA

By Steve Sandoval
July 26, 2007

Wall-to-wall inventory a success

It's official. The Laboratory's 2007 wall-to-wall inventory was deemed a success by the National Nuclear Security Administration.

The Laboratory received an "outstanding" rating from NNSA for its recently completed wall-to-wall inventory. The inventory was completed two months ahead of schedule and with no security violations or safety incidents, said John Tapia of Property Management (ASM-PM), the Lab's property manager.

"The successful completion of the fiscal year 2007 wall-to-wall inventory in record time demonstrates the Laboratory and its employees' commitment to protecting and accounting for the government property that is assigned to them," he said.

According to Tapia, the Laboratory had a 99.8 percent success rate in accounting for controlled personal property--a figure that was validated by NNSA. The Lab's goal--and its contractual requirement to NNSA--was 99.5 percent of its $1.1 billion of controlled property.

"Every Laboratory employee who has controlled personal property played a part in the success of our wall-to-wall inventory," said Acquisition Services Management (ASM) Division Leader Kevin Chalmers. "This Labwide commitment also demonstrates that the Laboratory takes seriously its property accountability responsibilities."

Completion of a wall-to-wall inventory every three years is required in the Los Alamos National Security, LLC management and operations contract. The inventory began January 2, and some 77,000-plus items are part of the baseline of items for inventory.

A large percentage of the property was inventoried from January through March. In May, property administrators began focusing their attention on their assigned organization's holdings. Property administrators contacted custodians that had unaccounted for items, Tapia explained.

The National Nuclear Security Administration validated the Lab's wall-to-wall inventory last week and also briefed the NNSA Los Alamos Site Office, said Tapia. He added that the Laboratory now will complete an internal validation, ensure that all documentation is submitted to NNSA, and attempt to find any unlocated items.

"Any additional items that we locate only improve our score," he said.

There must be a list of the 154 unaccounted for items. Perhaps someone could email us that list so our readers could help locate the additional items.

Jul 26, 2007

Note from a reader

Many thanks to one of our alert readers who forwarded this.

for the

July 27, 2007
Room 321, State Capitol

Friday, July 27

10:00 a.m. Call to Order
—Representative Roberto "Bobby" J. Gonzales, Co-Chair
—Senator Phil A. Griego, Co-Chair
Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) Science Overview
—Terry Wallace, Principal Associate Director, Science, Technology and

11:30 a.m. Lunch
1:00 p.m. Technology Transfer for Business Development
—Duncan McBranch, Division Director, Technology Transfer
2:30 p.m. LANL Overview, Update, Budget Status and Contingent
in Force Impacts
—Mike Anastasio, Laboratory Director, LANL
4:00 p.m. Adjourn

Laboratory Future Potentially at Risk

This comment is from yesterday's Directive Distress post.

Did anyone notice this memo that came out of the Director's office? Read the first line of this memo over a couple of times. Sounds rather ominous to me. Is the end game here for LANL? Are DOE and NNSA telling LANS something that the rest of the workforce should know about?



To/MS: All Employees
From/MS: Michael R. Anastasio
Symbol: DIR-07-211
Date: July 23, 2007

Office of the Director

SUBJECT: Senior Management Meeting, July 19-21, 2007

The future of our Laboratory is being questioned and is potentially at risk. The country needs and deserves an efficient, agile, integrated, and effective Los Alamos National Laboratory that delivers premier science, technology, and engineering for national security.

At a leadership offsite last week, the senior management team met to determine whether we are doing everything possible to ensure the overall success of the Laboratory.

The following are outcomes of our meeting:

* We developed a set of actions to enhance our ability as a high performance leadership team.

* Reflecting on the past year, the Laboratory has accomplished a tremendous amount. We re-established that the 12 goals are the right ones for the Laboratory to achieve our vision (to anticipate, innovate, and deliver science and technology that matters).

* We began developing future key commitments associated with the 12 goals.

* We identified barriers to achieving these goals and commitments and developed actions to begin removing them.

Each of us on the senior management team is personally committed to the overall success of the Laboratory, and we will hold each other accountable to ensure this. While each of us brings expertise and experience to individual areas, it is the common vision, shared fate, and integrated execution toward achieving the vision that will ensure institutional success.

We will continue the work we did last week -- collectively carrying out actions, identifying and removing barriers, and holding each other accountable. The need to enhance the level and quality of communications with each other and with you was a topic that pervaded our meeting. In the coming days, your Associate Directors will be visiting with you further about our meeting and the critical nature of our collective performance toward achieving our 12 goals.

IRM-RMMSO, A150 DIR-07-211

Jul 24, 2007

Directive Distress

This memo was sent to the Lab Directors four days ago after they ambushed him [Secretary Bodman] about crappy directives at the last LD meeting. While EHS is high on their list of hatreds, it's Tom Pyke and LANL alum Bill Hunteman (aka the man who killed NNSA cyber security) who are generating some of the most virulent opposition with their insanely ill-conceived Technical Management Requirements for cyber security. The letter from Bodman shows just how little Boddie understands about what the actual cyber security challenges are, and what laws actually have to be followed by the Contractors - and once again assumes there is any expertise at HQ about any of these issues. That's the fatal flaw in all this Directives insanity - it assumes anyone at HQ knows anything about these issues. They don't. All expertise at DOE is in the Labs, yet is that where they start making policy? Of course not.

Of course, as everyone knows who knows anything, it's DOE HQ and the Feds that have the deepest and most serious problems in cyber. LANL may be in the news, but it's HQ that just got eaten... again. Of course, maybe that wouldn't have happened if they had been working on their own internal cyber security for the last 18 months instead of publishing thousands of pages of "guidance" oh wait "requirements" and next "Directives."

DOE is the worst managed thing of any kind on the planet. I relish going to the DMV as an escape from DOE's management practices. What a disaster.


JUL 20 2007
The Secretary of Energy
Washington, D.C. 20585
July 19,2007

Dr. Michael R. Anastasio
Director, Los Alamos National Laboratory
P.O. Box 1663, MS A100
Los Alamos, New Mexico 87545

Dear Dr. Anastasio:

Thank you for your May 30,2007, letter providing the laboratory directors'
thoughts on proposals to address systemic issues with the Department of Energy's
directives system. I applaud the effort that was made to develop a collective
response and look forward to working with you on other issues using this new

I have reviewed your recommendations for transforming the Department's
directives system and have given them serious thought, especially your
conclusion that past improvement efforts have failed because the basic objective
of the directives system was not addressed. Enclosed is a draft memorandum
proposing principles for governing departmental directives. It addresses many of
the concerns cited in your letter and reflects the thoughtful consideration of the
Department's senior staff. I would like to discuss this draft document at our July
26,2007, meeting with the Laboratory Directors' Executive Committee and ask
that the committee members be prepared with any comments.

I have also given consideration to the three specific issues cited in your response
(nanoscale safety, energy savings, and cyber security) and would like to discuss
them with the Executive Committee at our upcoming meeting. Given the
significant risks involved, the most challenging of the three issues is cyber

As you know, the Department is required to follow a multitude of cyber security
requirements, including those promulgated through the Federal Information
Security Management Act, the National Institute of Standards and Technology,
and the Office of Management and Budget. In implementing these requirements
as well as other actions deemed necessary due to the significant threat posed to
the Department's unclassified and national security systems, we have endeavored
to take a risk-based approach to promote a robust cyber security program that
does not impose unnecessary burdens.

I appreciate your offer to develop recommendations for risk-based performance
levels for cyber security and am also interested in your developing the methods
for how the performance levels would be achieved. Enclosed is a paper prepared
by Tom Fyke that elaborates on our approach to meeting the challenge of cyber
security management. To ensure a productive discussion, it would be helpful if
the committee members would review the paper and be prepared to share the
laboratory directors' suggestions for improving the Department's cyber security
management process at the Executive Committee meeting.

Again, I appreciate your thoughtful recommendations on the Department's
directives system. Working together, I am optimistic that we will make positive,
lasting changes that will improve our ability to fulfill the Department's important


Samuel W. Bodman


Samuel H. Aronson
Director, Brookhaven National Laboratory

Dan E. Arvizu
National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Carl O. Bauer
National Energy Technology Laboratory

Steven Chu
E. O. Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

Jonathan Dorfan
Director, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center

Alan Goldman
Interim Director, Amcs Laboratory

Robert Goldston
Director, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

John J. Grossenbacher
Director, Idaho National Laboratory

Thomas O. Hunter
Director, Sandia National Laboratories

Michael Kluse
Director, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Christopher Leeman
Director, Thomas Jefferson 'National Accelerator Facility

George H, Miller
Director, Lawrence Livemore National Laboratory

Pier Oddone
Director, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Robert Rosner
Director, Argonne National Laboratory

Thom Mason
Director, Oak Ridge National Laboratory

G. Todd Wright
Director, Savannah, River National Laboratory


The Secretary of Energy
Washington, DC 20585





The Department of Energy uses directives as its primary means to establish, communicate and institutionalize policies, requirements and procedures for Departmental elements and, in some instances, our contractors. Directives help ensure that the Department operates in a safe, secure, efficient and cost-effective manner. They promote operational consistency throughout the DOE complex, foster sound management and facilitate achievement of DOE's strategic goals.

While directives provide an effective means of promulgating requirements, they must be used judiciously to promote rather than stifle productivity, accountability, and innovation. Over the past several years, the number of directives has increased along with the requirements they contain. Too often these requirements are unclear, overly prescriptive, duplicative, or even contradictory. In some instances, they duplicate laws, regulations or national standards resulting in confusion and lost time as employees and contractors try to determine how to comply with conflicting requirements.

To improve the existing system of directives, the following principles will be applied to simplify and clarify directives, reduce unnecessary burden, and ensure that directives support improved Departmental management and mission accomplishment.
  • What vs. How: Directives, especially those that apply to contractors, shall be written to specify the goals and requirements that must be met and, to the extent possible, should refrain from mandating how to fulfill the goals and requirements, thus increasing accountability for results. However, it will sometimes be necessary to specify how requirements are met in directives that cover high risk functions such as safety and security or areas that require consistency such as financial reporting and information technology.
  • Duplication of Laws, Regulations or National Standards: To the maximum extent possible, departmental directives shall be written in a manner that does not duplicate laws, regulations or widely accepted national standards.
  • Improved Planning: The need for a new directive or a major revision to an existing directive must be confirmed early in the planning process. The degree to which proposed directives covering high-risk activities or special circumstances may need to specify how the goals and requirements will be implemented will also be established in the early planning stages. Organizations developing directives will assess the level of risk or particular need for consistency and determine the degree of prescription required. The financial impact of proposed directives will be determined and factored into the decision-making process.
  • Applicability and Tailoring: To avoid a one-size-fits-all approach to directives, organizations will specifically determine which departmental elements will be covered by the directive. Departmental elements and contractors covered by directives should make full use of tailoring and/or waiver provisions, as appropriate, to avoid unnecessary burden.
  • Impasse Process: Understanding that consensus is not always possible, in instances where consensus is not achieved expeditiously, the established impasse process will be used to resolve differences. Issues that cannot be resolved quickly will be elevated to the Deputy Secretary for decision. Dissenting views on directives will also be Included in the review packages to ensure that all senior leaders are aware of differing positions.
  • Unofficial Guidance: On-going requirements that cross organizational lines and apply to contractors will be developed and promulgated through the directives process. Unauthorized or "rogue" directives often have not had the benefit of being analyzed by affected parties and risk being ignored or lost over time. Existing "rogue" directives will be evaluated and formalized through the directive process, as appropriate.
Improving Departmental directives is important and will require the personal involvement of senior managers to ensure that views expressed by departmental elements reflect the position of the principal. This will require your cooperation and active participation in this critical initiative.

I have directed the Office of Management to establish a process to review existing and proposed directives to ensure that they are written and managed in accordance with the principles outlined in this memorandum. Additional information will be provided by the Office of Management in the near future. In the meantime, please contact Ingrid Kolb, Director, Office of Management with any questions.


Thc DOE Cyber Security Management Process

Rather than have a "one size fits all" policy or directive at the Department level, which is the norm in most of the Government, DOE has established a process for managing cyber security in which each Under Secretary makes risk-based cyber security program decisions and provides the direction to his part of the Department, including the labs within his area of responsibility.

As the Under Secretaries do so, they follow the Federal Information Security Management Act (FISMA), OMB and other Federal directives, and Federal Information Processing Standards signed by the Secretary of Commerce and issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, as well as DOE Technical and Management Requirements (TMRs). This process is established in the policy developed last year through the DOE directives process and is contained in DOE Order 205.1A. As required by this Order, TMRs are developed by the DOE Cyber Security Working Group and issued by the Office of the Chief Information Officer.

DOE is subject to substantial constraints in this area, such, as those imposed in the Federal Information Processing Management Act, which mandates that the provisions of the Act be applied by all contractors who operate systems on behalf of the government. The key decisions as to sufficiency of management, operational, and technical controls are to be made based on risk determination by a senior Federal official for each system in the Department, including those systems operated by the DOE National Laboratories.

The DOE Cyber Security Working Group, which develops TMRs and coordinates planning and implementation of DOE-wide cyber security, has members appointed by the Under Secretaries. It works on a consensus basis, with each member ensuring an opportunity for review of proposed Working Group products by the DOE Laboratories and other components within each Under Secretary's organization. The TMRs establish reasonable schedules and parameters within DOE for implementing NIST cyber security technical guidance reports. They also interpret for use by the Under Secretaries new or changed Government-wide and DOE direction based on changing priorities and urgent requirements, such as for the protection of Sensitive Unclassified Information, including Personally Identifiable Information. A National Security Systems Manual prepared by the Working Group was also issued in March 2007 that provides DOE-wide direction for protecting classified systems and data.

A risk-based approach. to cyber security management is taken at every step of the DOE cyber security management process. Throughout this process, the intent is that, to the maximum extent possible, the Under Secretaries give direction to their organizations, including the DOE National Laboratories, in terms of "what," not "how."

U.S. Nuclear Weapons Strategy Delivered to Congress

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman joined the U.S. Secretaries of Defense and State in sending to Congress the Bush Administration’s nuclear weapons strategy. This document not only describes the history of nuclear deterrence during the Cold War, but reinforces how deterrence applies to present and future security threats, and what a nuclear stockpile of the 21st century will need to look like in order to meet those threats.

The strategy emphasizes President Bush’s goal of maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent with the lowest possible number of nuclear weapons. It is consistent with the Moscow Treaty that sets U.S. and Russian operationally deployed strategic nuclear forces at 1,700-2,200 by 2012. The policy document also supports the President’s 2004 directive to cut the overall U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile almost in half, so that in just five years the nuclear arsenal will be at its lowest level since the Eisenhower administration in the 1950s.

“We are committed to maintaining the nuclear weapons stockpile, but as our Cold War-era weapons age this becomes more and more difficult and very costly,” said Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman. “This document clearly lays out the best actions we can take in the face of an uncertain future.”

The document reiterates the U.S. commitment to maintaining a secure, safe and reliable nuclear weapons stockpile into the future, without the use of underground nuclear testing, for the security of both the United States and its allies. The strategy also describes the proposed Reliable Replacement Warhead (RRW) as the best means for ensuring the future nuclear deterrent, while allowing for a decrease in the size of the stockpile.

Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a separately organized agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; works to reduce global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the United States and abroad. Visit www.nnsa.doe.gov for more information.

To see the full text of the strategy, visit: http://www.nnsa.doe.gov/docs/factsheets/2007/NA-07-FS-04.pdf.

NNSA Public Affairs (202) 586-7371

DOE selects N.M. pools for nuclear waste disposal

Waylon Smithers, Jr.
The Dulce Herald
July 24, 2007

Los Alamos — New Mexico's swimming pools are the perfect sites to store spent nuclear reactor fuel rods, the U.S. Department of Energy said.

The Energy Department completed an environmental study last month of options to deal with the fuel rods. The rod program will increase citizen awareness of how various radioactive wastes should be handled.

Other options the agency studied included the use of the Ashley pond in Los Alamos, DOE project chief Charles M. Burns said Monday.

Currently high-level waste, like spent nuclear reactor fuel rods, must be stored. That's where New Mexico's pools come in. DOE's Nuclear Pool Project (NPP) will provide storage for spent fuel rods awaiting the eventual opening of Yucca Mountain or shipment to WIPP.

NPP is a temporary solution to the storage problem, Mr. Burns said. "A main objection to nuclear power is the waste material, largely the spent fuel rods, that are periodically removed from reactors. As manufactured, they are slightly radioactive, modestly enriched uranium in a metal coating. After generating energy in a reactor, they become "hot" - both radioactively and physically, due to the various fission products and isotopes they now contain. They remain this way for many years, and are considered "waste" because there's such a bulk of these dangerous artifacts. They are typically stored in pools of water at the reactor facility."

Mr. Burns says NPP will put these fuel rods to good use. First, the project eliminates the danger of bulk storage by dispersing them. There are literally thousands of suburban swimming pools in the Los Alamos/Santa Fe area. These pools require heating to a greater or lesser extent.

The highly radioactive fuel rods are protected by glass with a very high lead concentration which shields against much of the radiation - alpha, beta, and gamma. Suspended in the center of the glass encapsulation in an empty channel so that cooling water can flow around it, the fuel rods are installed as pool heaters.

According to Burns the rods have a blue glow that surrounds them caused by Cerenkov radiation, the shockwave caused by particles traveling faster than light in the water when they enter it. "Because we are encapsulating the fuel rods in lead glass, this lovely nimbus can impart an enchantment to the pool ambience if the "heater" is installed in the bottom or side of the pool rather than on an external concrete slab as is often done."

Because the environment between the fuel rod and the lead glass shield is highly radioactive, circulating the pool water in this area will kill any bacteria, so little or no chlorine or ozone will have to be added to the pool.

"Homeowners whose pools are selected for the NPP will not have to reimburse DOE for their pool's heating, lighting or sterilization." said Burns. "Unlike solar pool heaters, fuel rods emit energy continuously. Unlike propane or electric pool heaters, no expensive and scarce hydrocarbons are burned, hence this doesn't add to the anthropogenic CO2 burden in the atmosphere. The pool will remain warm at night as well as day, at no incremental cost for heating. Its a win-win solution to this storage problem!"

Those selected to receive an NPP fuel rod for their pool were mailed notifications late last week. Homeowners have 90 days to appeal their selection as an NPP site, but no appeals are expected. According to Mr. Burns, "The only complaints we expect are from those who were not selected to receive a rod. We are looking at selling lottery tickets for the pool heaters in the future."

Pool water has a high neutron absorption cross section so neutrons from the fuel rod will harmlessly convert a tiny proportion of the hydrogen atoms that pass through the nuclear heater to deuterium. Due to proliferation concerns, separation and resale by the homeowners is not permitted Burns said.

[Yes, this article is satire. Please don't call DOE looking for Mr. Burns.]

Jul 23, 2007

Polygraphs in Korea

Politicians and the Polygraph Machine

▶In 1999, the New York Times carried a headline story that said blueprints for a miniaturized nuclear warhead had been leaked to China. Eight months later, Lee Wen Ho, a Taiwanese-American senior researcher at the Los Alamos National Laboratory was arrested on charges of having smuggled the blueprints out. In the face of cries of racial discrimination, the FBI claimed that Lee had revealed himself the culprit in a polygraph test. Lee, however, was found not guilty and released 17 months later. The New York Times, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 2000 for its coverage of the spy story, had to issue an apology.

▶The lie detector was invented by Italian physiologist Cesare Lombroso in 1885. When a subject is asked difficult questions, the machine measures signs of stress in body movements, breathing, sweat, blood pressure and heartbeat. John Larson, a senior police inspector in California, used the machine for real investigations in 1921. He later confessed, "If you gathered them together, five experts wouldn't be able to reach an agreement on how to interpret the results of a polygraph test." Essentially, he was saying, the lie detector is unreliable.

▶The only territories where courts accept the results of polygraph tests as evidence are Israel, Japan and the U.S. state of New Mexico. In 2005, the Korean Supreme Court denied the use of prosecutors' evidence based on polygraph tests in an automobile hit-and-run case. The court ruled, "If a person experiences a consistent, 100-percent psychological change when he or she lies, if the psychological change causes 100-percent physiological responses, and if you can be definitely sure, based on such physiological responses, that the suspect has lied, then we can accept it as evidence. But we don't think it possible to expect such results with the current level of technology."

▶Prosecutors are reportedly considering using a polygraph machine in their investigation of Grand National Party presidential contender Lee Myung-bak for his suspected possession of property in Dogok-dong, Seoul under borrowed names. Ex-GNP chairman Suh Chung-won claimed that former chairman of POSCO Kim Man-je said that the property in question actually belonged to Lee. Kim has denied having said this. It's quite a challenge for prosecutors. Even if they do use the polygraph machine on the politicians, it would be difficult to judge the results. Regardless of what the machine shows, the event will surely be permanently recorded in the history of Korean politics.

This column was contributed by Chosun Ilbo in-house columnist Moon Gab-sik.

DOE considers N.M. for nuclear waste disposal

July 21, 2007

ALBUQUERQUE — New Mexico is on the short list of sites to dispose of dismantled nuclear reactor parts and other moderately radioactive waste, the U.S. Department of Energy said.

Current regulations make the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad and the yet-to-be-built Yucca Mountain site in Nevada the leading candidates for the job.

They are the only ones where waste could be buried deep underground to keep it isolated for more than 500 years, the Albuquerque Journal reported Saturday in a copyright story.

The Energy Department will launch an environmental study Monday of options to deal with the waste. The program would plug a hole in the complex web of federal regulations governing how various radioactive waste should be handled.

Other options the agency will study include shallow burial at Los Alamos National Laboratory, DOE project chief Christine Gelles said Friday.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman quickly disagreed with the possibility of expanding WIPP’s mission to handle the new type of waste. Part of the deal when the New Mexico Democrat helped draft the law in the early 1990s that allowed WIPP to open was a sharp restriction on the types of waste that would be allowed there.

“I do not support opening up this agreement to broaden the types of waste that can be disposed of at WIPP,” Bingaman said.

The state Environment Department’s response also was lukewarm. “Any proposal to widen the scope of WIPP or to dispose of additional waste at LANL will require a thorough analysis to make sure the plans protect New Mexicans,” said Jon Goldstein, the department’s director of water and waste management.

Currently, low-level waste can be dumped in shallow landfills, but high-level waste, like used nuclear reactor fuel, is in storage awaiting the eventual opening of the long-stalled Yucca Mountain project — a deep mine, like WIPP, dug into a mountain. A third class, plutonium-contaminated “transuranic” waste from nuclear weapons work, is being sent to WIPP.

That leaves a bunch of waste too radioactive to meet the basic “low-level” shallow burial criteria but not hot enough for Yucca Mountain and not legal at WIPP because it doesn’t meet the criteria set up when WIPP was opened.

Under federal regulations, the primary option is deep burial.

Dean Hancock, head of the Nuclear Waste Safety Project at the Southwest Research and Information Center in Albuquerque, said he and other activists prefer “hardened on-site storage.” That would keep the waste where it is or at a few central sites near the nuclear reactors where the waste was generated.

Jul 22, 2007

NNSA should have its own episode of Cops

Gee, first we had the Los Alamos Meth Lab case, then the Sandia Stalker, and now Oak Ridge has A. Q. Oakley.


NNSA should have its own episode of Cops.

Roy Lynn Oakley, a Bechtel Jacobs contract employee at Oak Ridge, attempted to sell sections of a gaseous diffusion barrier—not uranium as some mistakenly report, but the technology to enrich it—to an FBI agent posing as a French espion. I haven’t seen the indictment yet, but DOJ put out a statement:

Specifically, Count 1 of the Indictment charges that on January 26, 2007, Roy Lynn Oakley, having possession of, access to, and having been entrusted with sections of “barriers” and associated hardware used for uranium enrichment through the process of gaseous diffusion which constituted appliances within the meaning of the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 and which involved and incorporated Restricted Data within the meaning of Title 42, United States Code, Section 2014(y), and the said, Roy Lynn Oakley, having reason to believe that such data would be utilized to injure the United States and secure an advantage to a foreign nation, did communicate, transmit, and disclose such data to another person in violation of the Atomic Energy Act, specifically Title 42 United States Code, Section 2274(b).

The Knoxville News-Sentinel, which published the excellent courtroom drawing by R. Daniel Proctor (above), has the best coverage so far. If you read one story, read Frank Munger and Jamie Satterfield’s trash or treason story in the News-Sentinel.

Basically, Oakley—far from being A Q Khan—took a couple of broken sections home, then tried to sell them rather ineptly.

Oakley’s lawyer, the feisty Herb Moncier, is calling the diffusion barriers “trash.” “Moncier said Oakley’s job was to break up metal rods so they could be thrown away,” according to AP’s Duncan Mansfield. “Moncier did not know what the rods were made of, but said they were not uranium or dangerous.”

Tubes, Not Rods

Did not know what they were made of. Yeah. Hey Herb, maybe you should figure that out before trial. I humbly suggest grabbing a copy of the classic Uranium Enrichment and Nuclear Weapon Proliferation by Allan S. Krass, Peter Boskma, Boelie Elzen and Wim A. Smit.

Krass et al provide a very clear explanation of sintered nickel powder tubes—which sound a lot like Moncier’s “rods”—why they are so hard to produce and, implicitly, why a would-be nuclear state might want to take a look at our “trash”:

It is now easy to understand why a barrier is quite difficult to produce. The actual methods used by various countries are classified, but it is known that the United States used sintered nickel powders, while those in the new French Tricastin plant are “ceramic.”


Whatever the material, it must be bonded under high pressure and temperature into sheets only a few microns thick. These very thin sheets must be able to withstand pressure differentials of the order of 0.3 to 0.5 kg/cm 2 for many years without failure.


The barrier must be assembled in a way which will maximize its area of contract with the gas. In US gaseous diffusion stages this is done by manufacturing the barrier in the form of sheets of cylindrical tube bundles.


The individual tubes which make up the barrier must be small enough to provide a large surface area for diffusion but large enough to permit easy flow of the process gas. Again, no information is available on the size of the tubes, but if it is assumed that the tubes are about 2 m long and 1 cm in diameter, then about 160,000 of them would be used in such a stage. This can be compared with some of the early US stages which contained several thousand tubes each.

The best part of all of this is that Oakley thought the French might want our obsolete gaseous diffusion technology, even though Areva is planning to decommission their own diffusion plant once George Besse II, a URENCO centrifuge plant, comes on line at Tricastin.

Still, Oakley called the French embassy in Washington to offer the broken tubes. “They laughed at him,” according to a document filed by Moncier.

Laughed at him … then presumably called the FBI.

Bad boys, bad boys …

Jul 21, 2007

Comment of the Week

This week's comment of the week is actually two comments which offer opposing views on Congressman Udall's vote for reducing funding at SNL and LANL.



Anonymous said...


Please remember your vote at election time...it will help you cope and understand why you have to move on and increase your wealth once you are out of office (just like your buddy Bill). You are supposed to help the people you represent, not jump on the Democrat agenda and try to rebuild something that has already been working. You are gone...and to think I voted for you.


Anonymous said...

Just so everybody doesn't think 10:49 AM represents everybody in Udall's district:

Congressman Udall,

Thank you for having the courage to vote for a reduction in funding for Los Alamos National Laboratory. It cannot have been easy to vote for the reduction, given that it will affect people in your voting district. However, most of us recognize that LANL has become redundant, a cold war relic.

If Congress, DOE, and LANL cannot change LANL's mission to something other than nuclear weapons research or plutonium pit production, then the entire place needs to be shut down.

V.B. Price: Safe to drink?

Albuquerque suddenly noticed that Los Alamos is upstream.




Government needs to give assessment on water quality

For years now, all Albuquerque officials have talked about, when it comes to water, is how much of it we have. We've always presumed the water was safe to drink and relatively cheap to get.

But that's all changing now, and in dramatic and even frightening ways.

We're growing so fast, and our climate is becoming so dry, that population expansion is causing some developers on the West Side to seriously consider providing desalinated water from deep, brackish aquifers to their customers, at perhaps as much as three times the cost of what the rest of the city pays.

But that's not the scary part. Nuclear waste from Los Alamos National Laboratory is beginning to get into our drinking water. Plutonium was found last year, in very small but potentially deadly amounts in Santa Fe's drinking water near the Buckman well field. For people in Santa Fe and downstream in Albuquerque who plan to start drinking river water next year, that's a catastrophe in the making.

It really hasn't dawned on the popular media yet that the whole Los Alamos lab complex should be designated a gigantic Superfund site and probably will be in the future.

And it's not a great cause for hope, either, to read about radioactive dust samples being found in Los Alamos homes and laboratory job sites.

Water quality will become the key political issue in Albuquerque for years to come.

Twelve years ago, the U.S. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry published a report that said, in part, Bernalillo County had "over 150 documented ground-water contamination events" that have polluted "vast amounts of ground water, its quality degraded to an extent that it affects its usefulness as drinking water." More ominous than even the phrase "vast amounts" is the assertion that more than "20 of these cases" may reach the Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund National Priorities List.

The Albuquerque-Bernalillo County area currently has three sites on the list. That was a dozen years ago. Is there a major water quality health menace lurking in our aquifer?

The Toxic Substances Registry says "as much as 30 square miles of land area" here may overlie ground water supplies polluted from "septic tanks, underground storage tanks, landfills, industrial facilities and releases of hazardous materials."

If you're thinking we can go deep under the compromised fresh water aquifer to brackish water and desalinate our way out of ground water pollution, think again. Desalinization takes tremendous amounts of power, to be supplied at the moment by greenhouse-gas-producing power plants, the chief culprits in global warming.

We need the state and federal governments to give us a realistic and ongoing assessment of our ground water quality. That may be momentarily bad for business, but it's essential for our long-term health.

Jul 20, 2007

A day in the life of a blog adminstrator

Click image to enlarge.

Let’s hope Udall got labs’ attention

Santa Fe New Mexican
Editorial Page

Let’s hope Udall got labs’ attention

What’s this? A member of New Mexico’s con­gressional delegation casting a
vote that’s not blindly in support of Los Alamos and Sandia national

Yup. And LANL’s in the guy’s House district.

Democratic Rep. Tom Udall earlier this summer fought unsuccessfully to
save “ basic science” money he hoped scientists on “the Hill” would use on
alternative ­energy research. On Tuesday, he voted for an energy ­and
water appropriations bill that would cut $400 mil­lion from LANL and Sandia
during the fiscal year that starts in October.

Republican reaction was predictable: Udall’s threat­ening national
security, and his vote could lead to thou­sands of layoffs in Los Alamos and

Funny — we didn’t hear any of the latter moan from that party when LANL’s
private contractors pulled last year’s holiday-time, bottom-line-boosting
layoffs of Northern New Mexicans who do so much of the real work up there.
But now, comes the cry, some of the científicos involved in the arcane
research into purely destructive stuff might be looking over their

And through it all, we’re being fed the ancient line about these
brilliances’ inability to aim their expertise toward improving today’s
alternative-energy sources, or to take a strategic approach to entirely new

The scientific talent at both our state’s labs is enor­mous. To say those
people lack the flexibility and cre­ativity to step back, then study ways to
give the world sustainable energy is to cast them as mad-scientist

The House cuts, most likely, will be restored in the Senate anyway — and
that’s both good and bad news: New Mexico’s economy won’t be dented — but
neither will the thick skulls of the hydrogen-bomber bent on churning out
even more Cold War weaponry.

To the extent that our national laboratories are secretly engaged in ways
to wipe out terrorism without killing off its hostages, or less-secretly
working to fulfill our country’s commitment to a reduced stockpile of
nuclear bombs, good for its administration and faculty.

But merely reinventing the wheel of destruction is a notion Congress isn’t
going to support forever.

From the House of Representatives have come sev­eral warnings to LANL
since last year’s election shook up Capitol Hill. Udall’s is only the latest
— but the most courageous; other representatives challenging our labs’
budgets don’t have bomb-promoting constituencies to coddle.

Did Udall, who used to lead the Democratic ticket statewide as Attorney
General, damage his chances for a senatorial run? Some Republicans are
saying so.

Udall remains unlikely to run against Pete Domenici, even with the
senator’s presently fading popularity, which has him dancing like a
gunfire-prompted dude from a Hollywood Western when it comes to the war in

But if he did challenge the 75-year-old Domenici’s bid for a seventh term,
he’d likely find many New Mexicans between Rodeo and Ratón who respect his
honesty and forthrightness toward the labs — and who prefer his stand on
President Bush’s war to Domenici’s early-and-often support.

Add to that our state’s, and the rest of the country’s, weariness with a
corrupt administration, and Udall has little to fear. But Republicans ought
to be quaking in their boots.

Our district’s congressman, meanwhile, is feeling his way into the
responsibilities — and opportunities — of sitting on the Appropriations
Committee. Could it be that he’s seen the futility of handing LANL a blank
check, and that he’ll be back with bills spelling out exactly what the lab
should be doing on the energy/ global warming front?

From such proposals could come a resurgent LANL.

Los Alamos has the resources — and, we think, the adaptability — to serve
the Department of Energy in a mission bearing its name.

Jul 19, 2007

In case anybody is interested, I lean towards...

Back to our regular programming for a minute or two. From yesterday's Albuquerque Journal article about the House vote to cut NW spending:

The House approval, on a 312-112 vote, would cut nuclear weapons spending by the Department of Energy by $396 million— 6 percent.


The House bill could mean the loss of 900 jobs at Sandia National
Laboratories and even more at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

I don't know how they came up with that 900 jobs number for Sandia, nor the claim that even more jobs at LANL would be at risk. Previous articles on this subject suggested that $100 million would be targeted at SNL, and the remainder at LANL, so let's say that there is a potential $300 million reduction for LANL for FY'08. Any thoughts on the immediate impact on LANL of this vote?

I've heard extremely optimistic points of view: "St. Pete will put it all back, plus some," to more realistic opinions: "Some funding might get restored but not all," to the purely black outlook: "It's just the beginning of the eventual shutdown of LANL."

In case anybody is interested, I lean towards the purely black outlook. I see every event in LANL's recent history, starting with Nanos' shutdown back in July, 2004 as evidence of a larger plan to pare off all science activities at LANL except those associated with plutonium pit production operations. The net result of Nanos, the rebid of the LANL contract, and the award of that contract to LANS has been an exodus of WFO funding, an unbelievable escalation of the TSM FTE rate, and an even further burdening of LANL staff with "security" and "safety" related bureaucratic red tape.

Oh, let's not forget the awarding of the RRW competition to LLNL.

The end result of all of all of this that LANL is now essentially DOE's captive contractor with little on the horizon except further budget reductions. Either I'm missing something, or things really are as bad as they seem.


National lab worker accused of stealing secrets

No, not LANL; one of the other ones.


* Update, 11:24pm: As noted by a comment below, there is a Bechtel connection to this security issue: the suspect worked as a low-level contractor for Bechtel Jacobs Co. at the East Tennessee Technology Park, a cleanup site that once housed the government’s gaseous diffusion plant used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons.


National lab worker accused of stealing secrets

Employee allegedly stole classified nuclear information, tried to sell it

NBC News
Updated: 19 minutes ago

WASHINGTON - Federal prosecutors on Thursday accused a low-level worker at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory — birthplace of the nuclear bomb — with stealing highly classified information about how to make enriched uranium, a key ingredient in nuclear weapons.

He was allegedly caught trying to sell it to someone he thought was representing another country, someone who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent. Federal officials will not say which country the agent was pretending to represent.

WNBC’s Jonathan Dienst reported the suspect was arrested earlier on Thursday. An official announcement about the sting was expected later in the day, he said.

Sources reportedly said money, and not ideology, was the motive for the theft.

The alleged security breach was discovered before it could do any damage. But the incident also exposes another serious security breach at the national laboratories.

Last fall, for example, a large cache of classified documents from Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico was discovered when police, looking for drugs, conducted a search of a mobile home.

The Oak Ridge National lab, located in eastern Tennessee, near Knoxville, was established in 1943.

The lab was part of the government’s secret Manhattan Project, which was designed to build the first atomic bomb. It is the Energy Department’s largest science and energy laboratory.

The suspect is expected to be arraigned in federal court in Knoxville on Thursday.

LANL Cold War plutonium releases disputed


By ANDY LENDERMAN | The New Mexican
July 18, 2007

Documents show higher toxin discharge; health risks unclear

POJOAQUE — Airborne releases of plutonium at Los Alamos National Laboratory could be about 59 times higher than what was officially reported during the Cold War, a health scientist told the public Wednesday evening.

But it’s still unclear if that translates to a public-health risk, health scientist Thomas Widner said.

Documents uncovered by the Los Alamos Historical Document Retrieval and Assessment project show plutonium processing work related to nuclear weapons resulted in a release of 42.83 curies of plutonium from 1948-1955. The lab’s official report for that time period was 0.724 curies of plutonium. A curie is a unit of radioactivity.

“There are clearly discrepancies,” Widner said to a crowd of several dozen people at Homewood Suites Hotel in Pojoaque.

These airborne plutonium releases came from the D Building and the DP West Building, where plutonium processing work was performed at the time, Widner said.

The 42.83 curies number needs to be confirmed, Winder said. “It’s not cast in stone, but I’d be surprised if it was any lower than that,” he said.

That plutonium release would be larger than plutonium released at the Department of Energy’s Hanford, Savannah River and Rocky Flats sites combined, he said.

“The reason we’re concerned about this is because people lived so close,” Widner said.

Some early post-World War II and current housing is located a quarter-mile or more from the original plutonium processing area at the lab, according to an interim report produced by Widner’s team.

Inhaling or ingesting plutonium can lead to an increased risk for cancer, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Widner’s team — a private contractor hired by the CDC — is also looking for other information about airborne plutonium releases from other sources. That’s in addition to other hazards they are examining, like uranium and chemical releases.

“We wish we had the data for all the years,” he said.

Widner’s San Francisco-based company, ChemRisk, is leading an effort to comb through millions of lab documents from 1943 to today in an effort to identify releases of radionuclides and chemicals from the lab.

At the end of the project, in about two years, the team will present its information to the CDC, which could recommend what’s called a dose reconstruction for people or workers who live in the area. A dose reconstruction involves a team of scientists who determine what kind of radiation was released, where it went and how much radiation a group of people were exposed to, Widner explained.

But the roughly $10 million project, which began in 1999, isn’t done gathering information.

The interim report offers a lengthy historical perspective on Los Alamos and the work done there during the Cold War, including a section on the Trinity Test, where the world’s first nuclear bomb was tested in the New Mexico desert. New Mexicans in the vicinity of that July 1945 test, including some ranching families, were apparently exposed to radioactive fallout.

Contact Andy Lenderman at 995-3827 or alenderman@sfnewmexican.com.

LANL Retirement Options Spreadsheet

This was sent in by "Anonymous"


(Gussie, I just sent this to "Vlad" at the LLNL blog, but since you have broader distribution, I'm forwarding to you as well for your consideration to post.)

LLNL Readers,

Below is a link to a spreadsheet at a personal website that several of us at Los Alamos found very useful during the transition. I checked with the author if it was okay to post again, and his only comment is "standard disclaimers apply." You LLNL folks should adjust the dates for your October 1, 2007 transition, but if you fuzz your eyes, the spreadsheet is useful in its current form, where the transition date was June 1, 2006 for us. The important thing is to not get lost in the precise details, but rather see the big picture over the next many decades of life.

Load your basic information in the left hand corner of the spreadsheet. What we found useful was the ability to project what "negative amounts" to TCP1 does vs. saving your own money in 401(k) via TCP2.


Good luck!

Jul 18, 2007

Personal use of LANL Computers

Since the topic of personal use of lab computer equipment has recently come up, I was wondering if reading the blog classified as "personal use of laboratory computing resources"?


Praise the Lord, build the nukes

By Frank Munger (Contact)
Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Church and state weren’t very far separated last week at the grand opening for two new facilities — the New Hope Center and the Jack Case Center — at the Y-12 nuclear weapons plant.

In fact, I can’t remember attending an event at a government site in Oak Ridge with so many religious connotations. People commented on it, during and after the affair.

Following a ribbon-cutting, the 300 or so attendees gathered in the auditorium of New Hope, where Dr. Bobby Mullins, senior pastor at Oak Ridge’s Central Baptist Church, gave a lengthy invocation.

After that, Tom D’Agostino, a top official from the National Nuclear Security Administration in Washington, drew upon a Bible passage in the Book of Romans during his remarks to praise the work of Y-12 employees.
“We rejoice in our suffering because we know that suffering produces perseverance, perseverance produces character, and character produces hope,” D’Agostino said.

[Read the full story here.]

The audio was garbled but we believe he also said, "...and I hope LANL produces pits, damnit!"

Charges pending against LANL worker


CAROL A. CLARK Monitor County Editor

Los Alamos police detectives Monday submitted results to the District Attorney's office for review and possible prosecution regarding their investigation into possible criminal actions by a Los Alamos National Laboratory contract employee.

"We are recommending that charges of embezzlement and tampering with evidence be filed against Stephanie Maestas-Romero," Det. Cpl. Doug Johnson said on Monday.

Maestas-Romero, 32, of Alcalde, worked in an administrative capacity at the plutonium facility (TA-55), according to police.

LANL public affairs spokesman Kevin Roark confirmed the situation during an interview on Monday.

"At the beginning of July, laboratory managers and security officials contacted Los Alamos police with concerns about the unauthorized or inappropriate use of laboratory property," Roark said. "The equipment has been recovered and the laboratory has determined that at no time was classified information involved."

Maestas-Romero has not been arrested, according to police.

An itemized list of the missing equipment identified in police documents includes a laptop computer, a desktop computer and a 37-inch computer monitor.

"We believe she took electronic equipment belonging to the laboratory to her home and let other family members use at least one of the computers," Johnson said.

During questioning, Maestas-Romero allegedly told police that she had a property pass allowing her to take equipment home from the lab.

"She could not immediately produce the pass," Johnson said. "It turns out that she appears to have had permission for the laptop. We have added the charge of tampering with evidence because we have reason to believe she attempted to take one of the computers to the salvage yard to have the hard drive smashed."

Prior to being a contract employee, Maestas-Romero was employed by LANL, but, according to the police report, was "apparently terminated after being suspected of taking items from work."

Roark said he couldn't comment on the investigation being conducted by police.

"The contract employee was terminated last week," Roark said. "It would be inappropriate to go into details because of personnel privacy issues."

Johnson praised LANL security and specifically the division that worked with LAPD on this case.

"We have worked with S-12 on a number of investigations and they do an outstanding job," he said. "The successful collaboration between our organizations is insuring the swift and thorough removal of individuals from the workplace who choose to break the law."

Chatter about the case first surfaced anonymously on July 8 on "LANL The Rest of the Story," a local blog about daily life at the laboratory.

House OKs Lab Funding Cuts

ABQ Journal North
Wednesday, July 18, 2007

House OKs Lab Funding Cuts

By John Fleck
Journal Staff Writer

The U.S. House of Representatives gave final approval Tuesday to a bill
that could lead to substantial cuts at New Mexico's nuclear weapons design

The House approval, on a 312-112 vote, would cut nuclear weapons
spending by the Department of Energy by $396 million— 6 percent.

The Senate, meanwhile, is pushing a $213 million increase— 3 percent. To
come up with a final spending plan, leaders of the two bodies must come
together to reconcile the differences between the two spending plans.

Sorting out the differences in the nuclear weapons budget involve larger
questions about how much money is available for related energy and water
projects in fiscal 2008.

The House bill could mean the loss of 900 jobs at Sandia National
Laboratories and even more at Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Democrat Tom Udall, who represents Los Alamos, voted in favor of the
bill. New Mexico Republicans Heather Wilson, whose district includes Sandia,
and Steve Pearce voted against it.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has proposed a budget increase
instead of a cut.

But that bill is not likely to reach the Senate floor until after the
August congressional recess, according to Chris Gallegos, spokesman for Sen.
Pete Domenici, R-N.M.

The fear, Wilson said in a recent interview, is that the Senate will not
get to it before the Oct. 1 start of the fiscal year. One approach at that
point, which has been used in recent years, is to lump all uncompleted
spending legislation into one big omnibus bill. "It's a lot harder to fix
things" in an omnibus bill, Wilson said.

A key difficulty in reconciling House and Senate spending plans is the
overall size of the bill, Domenici said.

The money is part of a larger bill that also funds energy and water
projects. The total on the Senate side— nuclear weapons, energy and water
included— is $700 million more than on the House side.

That made it easier for senators crafting the bill to increase nuclear
weapons spending.

If the overall amount available for the House-Senate compromise bill is
not raised, any attempt to roll back budget cuts at the labs would have to
come at the expense of other projects.

"It's a whole lot easier to increase the allocation than to take it away
from a hundred water projects or the Corps of Engineers on the Mississippi,"
Wilson said.

Without bringing the overall size of the bills into agreement, solving
discrepancies over lab funding will be difficult, Domenici said during a
recent meeting with reporters.

"It will be nigh on impossible to resolve the bills with the current
difference in the amount of money to spend," he said.

Udall backs bill slashing lab funds


By ANDY LENDERMAN | The New Mexican
July 17, 2007

Congressman says LANL, Sandia must switch focus to energy

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill Tuesday that essentially cuts money for Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories, and U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., voted for it, saying the labs need to focus more on energy research.

The House Energy and Water Appropriations Act would cut about $400 million from Los Alamos and Sandia compared to the 2007 fiscal year, Udall’s office has reported. But that’s not the final budget for Los Alamos since a Senate committee has moved to restore the proposed cuts.

Udall “strongly believes that it is necessary to direct increased funding toward energy efficiency and renewable energy programs, as this bill does,” his spokeswoman said in a statement. “Congressman Udall voted for this bill because all of our national laboratories should be conducting critical energy research and science programs to address national security challenges.”

U.S. Reps. Heather Wilson, R-N.M., and Steve Pearce, R-N.M., voted against the measure. It passed by a vote of 312-112.

Wilson, whose district includes Sandia, called the vote a “radical shift in U.S. nuclear policy.”

“The decisions embedded in this legislation will lead us either to return to nuclear testing, or to abandon nuclear deterrence because we will stop maintaining the stockpile,” Wilson said in a news release. “This bill devastates the capability to certify that our nuclear weapons are safe, secure and reliable without testing.”

Last month, Udall offered an amendment to the $31 billion bill that would have restored about $192 million to Los Alamos. It was defeated 121-312. Several House members have criticized the lab’s management.

Udall also said this year’s appropriations process should “serve as a strong signal” to the National Nuclear Security Administration and lab managers “that the work at the lab must be diversified to meet current and emerging national security threats.”

Udall was praised by Jay Coghlan, who heads Nuclear Watch New Mexico. “We congratulate Udall for voting the right way and hope that we all can get really serious about changing missions at Los Alamos,” Coghlan said.

U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said he disagrees with the House approach. “I am disappointed in the House-passed bill,” Domenici said in a statement. “It represents a serious challenge to our laboratories’ efforts to keep Americans safe without going back to underground nuclear testing, and reverses so many scientific gains of the past 20 years.”

The differences in the House and Senate versions of the spending bill must be hammered out before the measure is sent to the president. The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Contact Andy Lenderman at 995-3827 or alenderman@sfnewmexican.com.

Jul 17, 2007

Comment of the Week

We haven't had one of these in a while, now have we? Maybe even never on this blog. Be that as it may, here's the comment that caught my eye, from the Report details history of LANL operations post. You have to admit, there is a certain amount of karma surrounding the views of the commenter, below.



Well, I say that if the if the good citizens of Los Alamos want a production plutonium pit fab facility, then they should have it. Years later most of them will die of cancer, and if that isn't kismet, I don't know what is.

Same goes for the good citizens of Santa Fe, if they allow their good neighbors in Los Alamos to build and staff that shiny new pit production complex.

Cops Investigating Use of LANL Equipment

ABQ Journal North
Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Cops Investigating Use of LANL Equipment

By Ginger McGuire
Journal Staff Writer

LOS ALAMOS— A contract employee at Los Alamos National Laboratory has
been questioned by police for allegedly embezzling lab property after
admitting she took a monitor and desktop computer home, allowing her husband
and daughter to use the equipment.

Los Alamos police detective Doug Johnson said there is "an active
criminal investigation in cooperation with lab security ... with possible
embezzlement of lab property," though no charges have been filed.

Johnson said Los Alamos police were contacted by lab security personnel
who said Stephanie Romero Maestas, 32, had allegedly obtained LANL property—
a 37-inch monitor and a Dell desktop computer— and converted the equipment
to her own use.

Lab spokesman Kevin Roark said the computer did not contain any
classified information.

The case was referred to Los Alamos police because the lab was concerned
about any possible "unauthorized or improper use of governmental property,"
Roark said. There is still an ongoing internal inquiry into the matter, he

"At this time, based on our internal inquiry, it appears she did have
permission to use the computer," Roark said.

Johnson said police are still unclear about whether Maestas had
permission to use the computer and whether she had permission to use the
equipment at home. He said it is also unclear how she obtained the computer,
which was assigned to another lab employee who has not been reached for

"She admitted to taking (the desktop computer) home and converting it to
her own use," Johnson said.

Maestas returned a laptop computer, upon which Johnson said she has
"previous permission to do work from home," and that it was assigned to her
for use. He said it is unclear whether she still has permission to use the
laptop outside of LANL property.

Maestas, a secretary, is a contract employee at the lab, Johnson said.

The alleged incident was discovered after one of Maestas' supervisors
saw a $943 charge for a 37-inch monitor in a stewardship report which she
said she had not previously authorized, Johnson said.

Further investigation showed Maestas had requested a monitor through the
proper supply process to use with the desktop computer, though her request
was rejected because the monitor "was unsuitable due to security
constraints," according to the investigation report.

Contrary to lab policies, Maestas allegedly used her supervisor's
personal identification code, or "Z number," to order the monitor, the
report states. Johnson said contract employees are not authorized to submit
requests that exceed $500.

"We don't have any indication that there was anything subterfuge— that
anybody used deceit— in the procurement process," Roark said in response to
the allegation that Maestas used the code without permission.

The desktop computer was last accounted for on June 3 during a
wall-to-wall inventory, Johnson said. Maestas took the computer home some
time after the last inventory, he said.

During the initial investigation, Johnson said a "supervisor then
compromised the investigation by informing (Maestas) that she was under
internal investigation and that she should return any LANL property that she
had taken home."

She returned her laptop, the monitor and desktop. Johnson said the
desktop was then discovered in the lab's salvage system— where equipment no
longer needed or that is considered surplus is categorized, Roark said.

Johnson said a work request attached to the computer indicated that it
was damaged or worn beyond repair, though technicians were able to determine
that this was not true. He said no one knows how the sticker got on the

"How in the world did this computer assigned to someone else get turned
in to be destructed, and why?" he said.

Roark said salvage doesn't necessarily mean the equipment will be
destroyed. Items in salvage are thrown away if found unusable, while some
items are sold at auction or used by other organizations such as schools. He
does not know how the computer Maestas had in her possession ended up in

The case has been forwarded to the District Attorney's office for review
and for possible prosecution, police said.

Report details history of LANL operations

The CDC project team looked at autopsy data from nonlab workers who lived in Los Alamos and White Rock, and said: “The calculation demonstrates that excess plutonium is present in nonworker residents of Los Alamos over what would be expected from global fallout from nuclear weapons testing.”

Didn't LANL release a statement in response to the GAP report last week claiming that all of the plutonium in and around Los Alamos was from fallout? It appears that somebody was fibbing.

Excerpt from the report shown at right (click on it for larger version) mentions the Bayo Canyon RaLa tests conducted between 1944 and 1962, and the fact that the winds blow west towards the North Community 3.5% of the time, and east southeast (towards San Ildefonso, El Rancho, Jacona, Pojoaque) 11.9% of the time. Not of interest to the new "kiddies" who now work at LANL, but perhaps of some interest to those who have lived in Los Alamos a bit longer.

For those who don't know, radioactive lanthanum has an extremely short half life, but is a screaming hot gamma source.



By ANDY LENDERMAN | The New Mexican
July 16, 2007

Project to be discussed at public meeting in Pojoaque

A massive project to catalog all historic radioactive and chemical releases from Los Alamos National Laboratory that could cause health problems is coming to Pojoaque this week for a public meeting.

Among early findings: Excess plutonium levels — beyond what would be expected from worldwide nuclear fallout from weapons testing — were present in some nonlab workers who lived in Los Alamos and White Rock during the Cold War,.

And the report offers many details about the Trinity Test, the world’s first nuclear test conducted in Southern New Mexico on July 16, 1945. In particular, details about radioactive fallout in the surrounding area and test preparations are offered, among other historical items.

The Los Alamos Historical Document Retrieval and Assessment project began in 1999 and is driven by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with help from contractors. A 533-page report on everything from plutonium processing to a list of accidents will be discussed Wednesday evening.

“LANL operations have not proceeded without health hazards or environmental impacts,” the interim report reads. “Approximately 30 people have been killed in incidents including criticality experiments and accidents with high explosives. Significant quantities of plutonium, uranium, and a wide variety of other toxic substances have been processed and released to the environment in quantities that in some cases are not well known.”

The report summarizes millions of documents from 1943 on and is not complete.

A lab spokesman referred questions about the report to a U.S. Department of Energy spokesman who was unable to immediately comment Monday evening.

The report touches on the former human tissue analysis program, a 35-year project by the lab to study plutonium levels in workers and the general population.

The CDC project team looked at autopsy data from nonlab workers who lived in Los Alamos and White Rock, and said: “The calculation demonstrates that excess plutonium is present in nonworker residents of Los Alamos over what would be expected from global fallout from nuclear weapons testing.”

The report also pinpoints where those people, who are not identified, lived.

Contact Andy Lenderman at 995-3827 or alenderman@sfnewmexican.com.