Jul 9, 2009

Budget Soup

The Senate Committee on Armed Services National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 is now available online here. It's 350 pages and I haven't read it all, but here are some highlights:
Readiness in the technical base

The committee recommends $1.7 billion for readiness in the technical base, an increase of $10.0 million above the budget request. This account funds facilities and infrastructure in the nuclear weapons complex and includes construction funding for new facilities.

The committee recommends a decrease of $20.0 million in the Chemistry and Metallurgy Facility Replacement project (CMRR), Project 04–D–125, at the Los Alamos National Laboratory as a result of uncertainty in the design of the CMRR. The committee notes that the certification required to be made by the Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board (DNFSB) and the National Nuclear Security Administration has not been made. The committee continues to believe that replacing the existing facility is essential but the CMRR has significant unresolved issues including the appropriate size of the facility. Some of these decisions will not be made until the Nuclear Posture Review is completed at the end of the year. The CMRR is one of two projects that the DNFSB has identified as having significant unresolved safety issues. These issues are associated with the project’s safety-related systems. Until such time as the safety basis documents are completed, the outstanding issues cannot be resolved. CMRR will be a category I facility supporting pit operations in building PF–4 and has a preliminary cost estimate of $2.6 billion. As stated last year the committee continues to support reconstitution of the pit manufacturing capability in PF–4 but urges that all safety issues with CMRR be resolved as soon as possible. If there is any change in the planned mission at CMRR, the committee directs the Secretary of Energy to notify the congressional defense committees.

The committee recommends an increase of $30.0 million for the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE) refurbishment, Project 09–D–007. The LANSCE is the only machine capable of performing nuclear cross section measurements of weapons materials to support the resolution of significant findings investigations. LANSE refurbishment would also further enhance the ability of the NNSA to perform surveillance on the stockpile.
[...]
Subtitle C—Other Matters
Ten-year plan for utilization and funding of certain Department of Energy facilities (sec. 3131)

The committee recommends a provision that would direct the Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Under Secretary of Science (USS) at the Department of Energy to jointly develop a plan to use and fund, over a 10-year period, the National Ignition Facility at the Livermore National Laboratory, the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the ‘‘Z’’ Machine at the Sandia National Laboratory. The committee notes that these three facilities are primarily funded and maintained by NNSA, but each of these has significant contributions to the science and energy research communities. The committee believes that the NNSA Administrator and the USS should explore how these unique facilities could be used and supported collaboratively to ensure that the capabilities of the facilities are fully utilized.

Review of management and operation of certain national laboratories (sec. 3132)


The committee recommends a provision that would direct the Secretary of Energy, in consultation with the Armed Services Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives, to appoint an independent panel of experts to conduct a review of the management and operation of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Sandia National Laboratory.

The committee notes that several recent studies have focused on the organizational location of the three labs but not on their actual management and operations. The committee believes that the labs should remain under the Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration, but believes that a review of the lab operations is timely.

Inclusion in 2010 stockpile stewardship plan of certain information relating to stockpile stewardship criteria (sec. 3133)

The committee recommends a provision that would direct the Secretary of Energy to include, in the annual stockpile stewardship plan for fiscal year 2010, an update on the stewardship criteria used to assess the safety, security, and reliability of the nuclear weapons stockpile. The last update of the criteria was completed in 2005. The 2010 plan would also include a review of each science-based tool, such as experimental facilities, developed or modified in the last 5 years.

The committee believes that as the stockpile ages and the total number of nuclear weapons in the stockpile decreases, the Department of Energy should articulate clear stewardship program going forward.

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

"The committee recommends a provision that would direct the Secretary of Energy, in consultation with the Armed Services Committees of the Senate and the House of Representatives, to appoint an independent panel of experts to conduct a review of the management and operation of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the Los Alamos National Laboratory, and the Sandia National Laboratory."

It's about time. Bye bye, LANS. Bye bye, LLNS. Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. Hello, Lockmart.

Anonymous said...

You've got to be kidding, 7:24 AM. This review will do absolutely nothing. If anything, it strengthens to status quo. Did you not see this sentence?:

"The committee believes that the labs should remain under the Department of Energy, National Nuclear Security Administration, but believes that a review of the lab operations is timely."

I'll have some of what you're smoking, 7:24 AM. It must be strong stuff! LANS and LLNS (aka Bechtel/BWXT) will remain in firm control of both LANL and LLNL and a badly broken NNSA will continue to mis-manage the labs. It's what Congress wants.

Anonymous said...

"LANSE refurbishment would also further enhance the ability of the NNSA to perform surveillance on the stockpile."

Say, what? LANSCE (note the mis-spelling in the Congressional remarks!) has never been an important part of the stockpile stewardship effort.

Does Congress just make this shit up as they go along or is it feed to them by LANL's top management?

Anonymous said...

"The committee notes that these three facilities are primarily funded and maintained by NNSA... NNSA Administrator and the US should explore how these unique facilities could be used and supported collaboratively to ensure that the capabilities of the facilities are fully utilized."

This is a pipe dream. No one other than DOE/NNSA is going to pay the big bucks to keep these expensive NNSA facilities up and running. This is nothing but more empty rhetoric from Congress. NNSA can "explore" concepts for outside funding but this outside funding will never appear.

Anonymous said...

Oh, come on now. The Bechtel brothers do not belong to Augusta National Country Club because they are inept at political doings. LANS will be here alot longer than you or I.

Anonymous said...

Again, is this a light (granted 12 watts so far) at the end of a very very long tunnel? And if you are listening put the FOD into the Divisions. 400 m (I made this number up- maybe a post of the amount could be had) per year needs to be part of the team. Darnit.

Anonymous said...

The last part of that section that 7:24 did not include was:

"The committee notes that several recent studies have focused on
the organizational location of the three labs but not on their actual
management and operations. The committee believes that the labs
should remain under the Department of Energy, National Nuclear
Security Administration, but believes that a review of the lab operations is timely."

LLNS and LANS are puppets of NNSA and it would appear that congress still (God knows why) supports NNSA being in control of the labs.

So if LANS and LLNS were replaced, NNSA would push the rules and regulations onto the next contractor. A contractor chosen by their willingness to snap a salute to NNSA.

What would be fun is if a committe should examine the labs and state LLNS and LANS aren't all that bad, in fact, they are very good - at implementing bad NNSA policy.

Anonymous said...

Of course NNSA would still hold the new management contractor to meet their requirements, but at least the fee structure and tax status of the new contractor could be changed. UC cost the LANL budget $8M per year. LANS costs over $200M per year. What is NNSA getting for this huge cost increase?

Improved safety?

There was another extremely serious accident involving a student on Wednesday. A chemical explosion.

It's time for LANS to go, so we can return the wasted $192M back to where it can buy value for the country.

Anonymous said...

There was another extremely serious accident involving a student on Wednesday. A chemical explosion.

Details please?

Anonymous said...

Daily DOE Site Reports

"On July 8, 2009, at 10:52 pm (EDT), LANL declared an Operational Emergency at the Alert level (lowest of three levels) due a spill of approx. 2 liters of chemicals(Acetone mixed with Nitric Acid into the atmosphere. Personnel were evacuated as a precaution. Affected facility operations were stopped. No injuries were reported and there is no media interest. The event was terminated at 00:16 (MDT) on July 9, 2009. Hazmat clean-up will continue during daylight hours."

Anonymous said...

"No injuries were reported and there is no media interest."

It's that "media interest" part that is the most important to NNSA. No damaging media interest, so you can all go back to your summer snoozing. Better yet, seed the news media with some more of those wonderful reports on how LANL is helping to create clean fireworks!

Anonymous said...

"There was another extremely serious accident involving a student on Wednesday. A chemical explosion." - 6:18 am

Yet another example of why you do *NOT* want to be hosting summer students at LANL. It could easily end up costing you your job.

Anonymous said...

On July 8, just before COB, a student disposed of acetone, a flammable organic liquid, into a TA-35 acid waste container. The student then left the building. Shortly after, the acid waste container exploded. The explosion burst an adjacent nitric acid storage container; the nitric Acid mixed with the chemical waste and pooled on the floor of the laboratory. Two of the student's mentors then came into the lab to attempt to treat the mixed waste spill. One of the mentors subequently had to be taken to the Los Alamos hospital with respiratory symptoms. Hazmat teams responded and in their attempt to contain and clean up the waste, they (apparently using incorrect chemicals) caused another reaction that released a large cloud of toxic brown gas. The hazmat responders were forced to leave the area, they then evacuated the building leaving the chemical fume hood on. The toxic gas was seen discharging from the roof of the building, so they cleared the entire area and shut down traffic on all roads leading to the site. Sometime after the toxic cloud disappated, the hazmat team reentered the building and proceeded to clean up the lab (apparently with the correct chemicals this time). One wing of the building was still isolated on Thursday morning but the rest of the building had been reopened.

Does anyone else see a boatload of trouble coming?

Anonymous said...

Does anyone else see a boatload of trouble coming?

7/10/09 3:54 PM

No, we will cover it up as usual so that my bonus is not affected.

Mike

Anonymous said...

"Two of the student's mentors then came into the lab to attempt to treat the mixed waste spill. One of the mentors subequently had to be taken to the Los Alamos hospital with respiratory symptoms."

Yikes! Sounds like the student's mentors tried to cover up the mess rather than immediately calling Hazmat. Guess they won't have a job at LANL for much longer. As other posters have said, hosting summer students may be a career ending move at LANL.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the student's mentors will probably get fired for not immediately calling Hazmat. Guess they thought they could cover it up.

Yet another example of why hosting students at LANL can be a career ending move!

Frank Young said...

"Yikes! Sounds like the student's mentors tried to cover up the mess rather than immediately calling Hazmat."

I think it's a little early to say that. Maybe it's true, but at this point it is equally plausible that they acted to protect the lives of others and valuable government property.

Anonymous said...

who are the tsm's involved?

Anonymous said...

Was this under the direction of Mary Neu and will she be held responsible?

Anonymous said...

8:47,

a) Don't know
b) No

Anonymous said...

8:47 - the people involved are in MST-8, which means that Sue Seestrom (currently on yet another glorious and well deserved vacation - this time to Greece) is the AD in charge. But don't worry sleezy suzie won't be held accountable either. She will just berade those beneath her.

Anonymous said...

Sue Seestrom is still on her fabulous Greecian vacation? What did she do, rent out a yacht for her and her well protected hubbie for the rest of the summer?

Anonymous said...

Well, while Susie was in Greece, the Senate killed the Extreme Materials Hub which would have nicely funded some actual MaRIE science.

Anonymous said...

Loss of the Extreme Materials Hub isn't important. MaRIE only needs to fool the public into looking like it's doing really important stuff. That will be easy.

Anonymous said...

Hey 8:21 PM, but they reinstated LANCSE-R, which Susie said was THE PRIORITY in her directorate.

Anonymous said...

As usual, most of the posts on here have no idea what they are talking about.
There was no attempted cover-up (sorry you conspiracy theorists but wrong again!). The personnel involved went in to neutralize the spill and then realized that it was larger than they suspected (2L vs 200mL). They then called in hazmat.
They took the two to the ER as a precaution. There was no personal injury, period, none!
Two bottles broke - one with 200mL waste, one with 2L acid. That's it. No chemical waste or other chemicals spilled.

Anonymous said...

7/14/09 10:42 PM ..."MaRIE only needs to fool the public into looking like it's doing really important stuff."

Oh Fuck MaRIE. What a waste of taxpayers money. 4 years of "planning" later and NOTHING to show for it. Congress should just kill it.

Anonymous said...

4:44 PM, it's hard for Congress to kill a program that exists only in John Sarrao's head.

Anonymous said...

"Oh Fuck MaRIE. What a waste of taxpayers money. 4 years of "planning" later and NOTHING to show for it. Congress should just kill it." (4:44 PM)

MaRIE was the choice made by Terry Wallace and John Sarrao as the lab's Signature Facility after countless LANL workshops and brainstorming sessions ($$$$).

LANL's future as a world class science lab depends on it. MaRIE was suppose to usher in a golden era of new funding opportunities from outside sources to help diversify and fund LANL.

Opps! You're right, 4:44 pm, we're f*cked! Bad choice. Seems no one really cares about spending vast sums of money to study materials under extreme radiative environments. Who would of thunk it?

Anonymous said...

"...MaRIE was the choice made by Terry Wallace and John Sarrao as the lab's Signature Facility after countless LANL workshops and brainstorming sessions ($$$$)..." (from 14:38 PM)

Waste, fraud and abuse. Like a previous poster noted, nothing to show for this effort or $$$$.

Where is all the external funding?

Oh yeah, it went to Notre Dame ... they got an EFRC center of excellence for actinide science and performing studies on materials under extreme radiative environments.

Once again the scientific leadership at LANL boggles the mind. Why should congress fund this work again at LANL for so much more money? LANL is no longer an internationally recognized hub of scientific excellence. Thanks, Terry!!

Anonymous said...

Thanks 9:32am. So there was no "toxic cloud" of chemical vapors floating over TA-35?? LOL.

Anonymous said...

3:33 PM wrote ...Where is all the external funding? Oh yeah, it went to Notre Dame ... they got an EFRC center of excellence for actinide science and performing studies on materials under extreme radiative environments.

If this is true then why is LANL still trying to build a MaRIE signature facility? Not so signature if the country already has funding for the unique virtual MaRIE. The country doesn't need two, especially in the tough current financial times.

Anonymous said...

"If this is true then why is LANL still trying to build a MaRIE signature facility? Not so signature if the country already has funding for the unique virtual MaRIE. The country doesn't need two, especially in the tough current financial times."

I nominate this for Stupid Question Of The Week. Answer: to get money to pay for LANS' big, fat, huge, bloated management layer.

Duh.

Anonymous said...

7/18 3:33 pm: "Where is all the external funding?

Oh yeah, it went to Notre Dame ... they got an EFRC center of excellence for actinide science and performing studies on materials under extreme radiative environments."

A lot of the properties of actinides under extreme environments are classified. Should prove interesting at Notre Dame.

Anonymous said...

Oh, very clever! Notre Dame got the money, so LANS (led by a construction company) will withhold technical data from the project because it is "classified".

See? Not all the smart people have left LANL yet.

I'm trying to guess at which point Congress gets involved on this one.

Hello? Washington? This is the direct line from Los Alamos. Did you get that?

Anonymous said...

oh 8:35 PM, get your undies out of a bind. I have heard of several actinide scientists at LANL being recruited by Notre Dame (and Argonne). Just wait and see the list ... and yes, they will keep their clearances as they have for years you jackass.

Notre Dame (ie closely tied in with Argonne) not so dumb as LANL management. :-)

Anonymous said...

aside from doc aq, who thinks actinide science is important anymore? seriously, that is the past and quantum dots (Jenn Hollingsworth, Richard Schaller, Victor Klimov) and hydrogen (John Gordon, Fran Stevens, Dave Thorn) science are the future, just look at the last couple of years of ldrd. Priedhorsky has rightfully seen the future and accordingly directed ldrd this way. this Lab needs new directions beyond actinides and nuclear fuel. the future funding lies in alternative fuels beyond nuclear. if LANL is to have any innovative scientific future we need to follow the direction led by inspirational scientists like Bill Priedhorsky and Terry Wallace.

Clearly, Wallace should be our future Director and not Rees (who believes in actinide forensics) as indicated in other threads.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, 10:22, for reminding me what a small, petty world you people live in up there on the hill. I'm very glad I no longer work there.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you 10:31 PM, I too just left and am enjoying the academic life and looking forward to wiping LANL's actinide reputation off the face of the earth and bringing the new center of actinide chemistry to UPenn, baby. Eat shit and die, LANL!!

Anonymous said...

"...we need to follow the direction led by inspirational scientists like Bill Priedhorsky and Terry Wallace."

Shoot, you really had me going there until I hit this sentence.

Funny!

Anonymous said...

7/19 8:35 pm: "Oh, very clever! Notre Dame got the money, so LANS (led by a construction company) will withhold technical data from the project because it is "classified".

You can take the quotes off. The actinide data that is classified is Restricted Data (see the Atomic Energy Act of 1954 as amended, U.S.C. 42; Chapter 23, Subchapter XI), and that applies to everyone, not just the government. Look it up. It won't be LANS's choice if any data gets withheld.

Anonymous said...

To 1:10 AM,

We'll miss you, too, Eric Schelter. Good luck getting those actinide proposals funded. Don't be discouraged by the fact that none of your three LDRD attempts made it through the first round. And don't worry about getting students either. There must be a few dimwits out there who will look past your whiny, arrogant personality. As for the tenure thing, well, maybe Penn will keep you on a a "token" for diversity's sake.