Text Only | Disarmament Diplomacy | Disarmament Documentation | ACRONYM Reports
Back to the Acronym home page
Iraq
US/Russia
Space
NPT
CTBT
Fissban
BWC
CWC
UN
CD
British Policy
South Asia
Calendar
About Acronym
Links
Glossary

Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 11, December 1996

US Department of Energy announcements:
Nuclear danger reduction programme; post-CTBT nuclear weapons complex

The US Department of Energy (DOE) made two, interrelated and overlapping, announcements in December, one concerning the US nuclear weapons complex, which is being remodelled to take account of lower nuclear stockpiles and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), and one designed to reduce the danger posed by surplus, and potentially insecure, weapons-grade materials and facilities. See also News Review.

US plans for post-CTBT nuclear weapons complex

'Design Final for Weapons Complex Without Underground Nuclear Testing: Livermore's National Ignition Facility to Proceed,' Department of Energy Press Release, R-96-181, 19 December 1996

Full text

"The US Department of Energy (DOE) today finalized its plans for a smaller, more efficient, and flexible nuclear weapons complex that can maintain the nation's nuclear deterrent without underground nuclear testing and without production of new weapons for the foreseeable future.

When signing the Record of Decision for the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, Secretary of Energy Hazel R. O'Leary said, 'With the end of the Cold War, the Department of Energy's weapons laboratories and production plants are now focused on warhead dismantlement and assuring the safety and reliability of the remaining stockpile without underground nuclear tests. This week's announcement - success by DOE and Intel to build the world's fastest "ultra" supercomputer - illustrates the enormous progress and potential for the science-based approach. We don't need as large a weapons complex; we don't need underground testing. The result is a safer, more peaceful world for the 21st century.'

Stockpile stewardship focuses on providing the science base needed to ensure the safety and reliability of the remaining weapons stockpile under a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Supercomputers, like the DOE and Intel's machine, that can model weapons data will play an important role in the success of this approach. Stockpile management focuses on maintenance, manufacturing, surveillance and refurbishment of the remaining stockpile, and the dismantlement of weapons no longer required.

The record of decision allows DOE to proceed with the construction and operation of three new facilities to enhance its science based stockpile stewardship program: the National Ignition Facility and the Contained Firing Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California; and the Atlas Facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. These facilities are key elements of the science based stockpile stewardship program. The approach has broad support in the national security community and has received the endorsement of the JASONS, an independent high-level scientific review group. In a recent letter, JASON members Dr. Sidney Drell of Stanford University and Dr. Richard Garwin of Columbia University wrote that science-based stockpile stewardship is 'an essential component for the United States to maintain confidence in a safe and reliable nuclear deterrent under a Comprehensive Test Ban.'

Today's action clears the way for a streamlined DOE weapons manufacturing complex without additional plant closures. To provide the department with the right sized capacity for the maintenance, surveillance, repair and dismantlement of weapons in the nation's nuclear arsenal, existing facilities at three sites will be downsized. The Oak Ridge Y-12 Plant in Tennessee will retain secondary (highly enriched uranium) and weapons case component fabrication activities; the Pantex Plant in Texas will retain assembly/disassembly and high-explosive component fabrication work; and the Kansas City Plant in Missouri will continue to manufacture nonnuclear components. A small capability to make plutonium pits - nuclear weapons cores - will be established at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. Pit components have not been fabricated since the closing of the Rocky Flats Plant in Colorado in 1992.

Facility downsizing is scheduled to begin in 1998 and cost approximately $170 million; this should be recouped by 2003, from downsizing savings, and result in total savings of about $1 billion by 2010. About 10 to 15 percent reduction in the defense programs workforce is anticipated complex-wide, as much of the workforce has already been significantly reduced as workload requirements have shrunk.

Secretary O'Leary issued the final 'Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program,' which assesses the environmental impacts of current and proposed nuclear weapons complex activities, on 12 November, 1996."

Nuclear Danger Reduction Programme

Press Release

'Energy Secretary Unveils Strategies to Reduce Global Nuclear Danger: Post-Cold War Plans for Plutonium Disposal, Weapons Dismantlement and Solar Energy at Nevada Test Site Announced,' DOE Press Release, R-96-176, 9 December 1996

Full text

"The Department of Energy (DOE) today laid out a dual-track strategy to irreversibly dispose of the nation's surplus plutonium and to reduce from seven to three the number of sites where nuclear weapons materials are stored. DOE also will enhance the safety of weapons dismantlement at its Pantex Plant in Texas and diversify the Nevada Test Site for civilian uses, including a major solar energy project, while maintaining its nuclear test readiness activities.

'Today's actions will reduce global nuclear danger. For five decades, the United States built up a huge stockpile of plutonium - the deadly stuff of nuclear weapons. Today, we begin to destroy it. We have a clear message to the world: we are committed to irreversible nuclear reductions and we will ensure that surplus plutonium is never again used for nuclear weapons,' Secretary of Energy Hazel R. O'Leary said.

A significant challenge arising from the end of the Cold War is the need for safe, secure and verifiable management of weapons-usable highly enriched uranium and plutonium from the disassembly of nuclear weapons.

Global stockpiles of these materials pose a danger to national and international security if they are not managed and disposed of in a manner that precludes their reuse in weapons. As described in the Storage and Disposition of Weapons-Usable Fissile Materials Final Environmental Impact Statement announced today, DOE's strategy for managing these materials is to reduce the number of locations where they are stored and to pursue a dual-track plutonium disposition strategy that allows for immobilizing plutonium in glass or ceramic forms and burning plutonium as mixed oxide fuel in existing reactors.

Both disposition approaches ensure that the plutonium cannot be used for weapons and preserve the long-standing US policy of not using civilian reactors to produce fissile materials for nuclear weapons. Under the US approach, plutonium in nuclear reactors in the form of MOX fuel would not be reprocessed to recover plutonium. This contrasts with the approach used by some other nations.

Technical, institutional and cost uncertainties exist with both the immobilization and reactor options. Accordingly, the department, over the next two years, will complete the necessary tests, process development, technology demonstrations, site-specific environmental reviews and detailed cost proposals for both approaches. Final decisions to use either or both of these technologies depend on the results of this work as well as nonproliferation considerations and progress in efforts and negotiations with Russia and other nations. This approach gives the President the flexibility to begin plutonium disposition either multilaterally or bilaterally through negotiations or unilaterally as an example to Russia and other nations.

Supporting actions needed to implement the approaches include: constructing a plutonium vitrification or ceramic immobilization facility at either the Hanford site in Washington or Savannah River Site in South Carolina or modifying and using the already operating Defense Waste Processing Facility at Savannah River; constructing a pit disassembly/conversion facility at Hanford, Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, Pantex or Savannah River Site; and constructing a government-owned, mixed oxide fuel fabrication facility at Hanford, Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, Pantex, or Savannah River Site. Decisions regarding these actions would be made by early 1998.

Under DOE's preferred storage strategy, Pantex and Los Alamos National Laboratory would store strategic reserve plutonium indefinitely, and Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee would store strategic reserve highly enriched uranium (HEU), along with surplus HEU pending disposition. Three sites - Hanford, Idaho National Engineering Laboratory and Savannah River Site - would store surplus plutonium until its disposition. Plutonium, in the form of pits (nuclear weapons cores), would move from Rocky Flats to Pantex, and Rocky Flats' separated and stabilized plutonium materials would be relocated to the Savannah River Site. Non-pit plutonium would be stored at the Savannah River Site in an expansion of the planned new Actinide Packaging and Storage Facility, pending disposition. Ultimately, immobilized plutonium or spent reactor fuel would be disposed in a geologic repository.

The second review announced today is the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Continued Operations of the Pantex Plant and Associated Storage of Nuclear Weapons Components. Pantex, located near Amarillo, Texas, is the nation's only facility for the disassembly of nuclear weapons. Its current mission is centered on the dismantlement of nuclear weapons and maintenance and surveillance of the smaller nuclear weapons stockpile.

The Pantex Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) proposes to maintain the plant's current weapons dismantlement mission and to increase the capability for on-site interim storage of plutonium components from 12,000 to 20,000 pits. DOE would implement safety upgrades to improve these operations, for example changing air flight patterns over the plant and improving seals inside buildings to minimize plutonium dispersal in the event of a high-explosive accident. Interim storage activities would continue at Pantex until decisions regarding long-term storage and disposition are made and implemented.

DOE anticipates that Pantex will downsize as weapon dismantlement work decreases over the next 10 years to the level projected in the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Programmatic EIS released in November.

The Record of Decision on the Nevada Test Site signed today diversifies operations at the Site. Defense activities include science-based stockpile stewardship experiments and operations to maintain the safety and reliability of the nuclear stockpile, including 'subcritical' experiments involving nuclear materials. These experiments are consistent with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. DOE will establish a 'transparency' approach to ensure the experiments are understood by the public and the international community. Non-defense uses of the site include a solar energy project, hazardous materials spill testing and a technology development program. The Department, in conjunction with the Corporation for Solar Technology and Renewable Resources, expects to construct and operate an up-to-100 megawatt solar power production facility. Once built, this would be one of the world's largest solar energy projects."

Fact Sheets

'Strategies to Reduce Global Nuclear Danger,' Department of Energy, Series of Fact Sheets, 9 December 1996

Summary

The Fact Sheets were themselves summarised in the following statement:

"[The Fact Sheets concern:]

Storage and Disposition of Surplus, Weapons Usable Fissile Materials Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement

* Final environmental analysis for the Department's preferred alternative to reduce the number of locations where highly enriched uranium and plutonium are stored and pursue a disposition strategy which allows for immobilization of the surplus plutonium in glass or ceramic forms and burning of the surplus plutonium as mixed oxide fuel in existing reactors.

Pantex Final Environmental Impact Statement

* Final environmental analysis for the continued operation of the Pantex Plant and Associated Storage of Nuclear Weapon Components near Amarillo, Texas.

Nevada( Test Site Record of Decision for the Environmental Impact Statement

* A final decision on the environmental analysis of the impacts from DOE programs at several sites in Nevada.

Stockpile Stewardship and Management Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement

* Final environmental analysis for the Department's preferred alternative for the future missions required of the three weapons laboratories (Los Alamos, Sandia, and Lawrence Livermore), the four industrial plants (Kansas City, Pantex, Savannah River and Oak Ridge Y-12) and the Nevada Test Site. The preferred alternative would continue operations at all eight sites but make changes consistent with post-Cold War needs."

Storage and Disposition of Surplus, Weapons Usable Fissile Materials Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement

Full text

"As described in the Final Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement, the Department's preferred alternative is to reduce, over time, the number of locations where these materials (highly enriched uranium and plutonium) are stored and to pursue a dual-track disposition strategy that allows for immobilization of the surplus plutonium in glass or ceramic forms and burning of the surplus plutonium as mixed oxide fuel in existing reactors.

The fundamental purpose of the surplus plutonium disposition effort is to irreversibly ensure that plutonium produced for nuclear weapons and now declared excess to national security needs is never again used for nuclear weapons. Both disposition approaches can achieve this goal and preserve the long-time US policy of not using civilian reactors to produce fissile materials for nuclear weapons. Burning of surplus plutonium in existing reactors would not involve subsequent reprocessing of the spent fuel. Each of these technologies would dispose of surplus weapons plutonium in a manner which helps assure it would not again be used in nuclear weapons.

Preferred Alternative for Storage

* Rocky Flats

Phasing out storage of all weapons-usable plutonium at Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site; moving pits to Pantex during a two year period beginning in 1997 and moving Rocky Flats' separated and stabilized non-pit materials to Savannah River Site by approximately 2004, when the expansion of the planned Actinide Packaging and Storage Facility is complete.

* Pantex

Upgrading storage facilities at Pantex (Zone 12 South to be completed by 2004) to store strategic reserve and surplus plutonium pits at Pantex including pits from Rocky Flats. Conversion into plutonium oxide for disposition could begin approximately 2005. Storage facilities at Zone 4 would continue to be used prior to completion of the upgrade activities.

* Savannah River

Expanding the planned Actinide Packaging and Storage Facility to be built at Savannah River Site to store surplus, non-pit plutonium materials currently at Savannah River Site and surplus non-pit plutonium materials from Rocky Flats pending the start of plutonium disposition which could begin approximately 2004.

* Oak Ridge

Upgrading of storage facilities (to be completed by 2004) at the Y-12 Plant at Oak Ridge Reservation to store highly enriched uranium. Preparations for the disposition of surplus highly enriched uranium have already begun and will last approximately 15 - 20 years.

* Hanford, Idaho National Engineering Laboratory and Los Alamos National Laboratory

Continuing storage of surplus plutonium at these sites pending disposition which could begin approximately 2004.

Preferred Alternative for Disposition

The Department's plans to pursue a dual-track strategy that allows for immobilizing plutonium in glass or ceramic forms and burning surplus plutonium as mixed oxide (MOX) fuels in existing reactors. While both approaches are viable for the disposition of surplus weapons usable plutonium, technical, institutional and cost uncertainties associated with both the immobilization and MOX options exist. Accordingly, the Department's plans include completing by the end of 1998, the necessary process development and small-scale technology tests. These include the 'can in canister' immobilization approach, using the already operational Defense Waste Processing Facility at Savannah River, and tests of MOX fuel fabrication and irradiation; site specific environmental analyses; and detailed cost proposals for each of these approaches.

For the immobilization approach, the Department primarily needs to quantify and resolve the technological issues associated with the dissolution and solubility of various concentrations of plutonium in various glass and ceramic materials; the reliability and production rates of melting and mixing processes under various temperatures and criticality controls; and the impact of impurities in the surplus plutonium forms in order to have the confidence that this approach can provide success in a timely and cost-effective manner.

For the Mixed Oxide Fuel/burning in existing reactors approach, the Department primarily needs to quantify and resolve cost and institutional (licensing and regulatory) issues as well as issues associated with the potential impacts of other materials alloyed in plutonium pits in order to have the confidence that this approach can provide success in a timely and cost-effective manner.

For both approaches, we need to complete design and operational testing of the processes that would be used to convert the plutonium from pits and other forms, into oxide as feed material for the disposition technology.

The Department's Preferred Alternative identifies supporting actions and subsequent site-specific NEPA analyses, starting in early 1997, that would be required for implementation of these disposition technologies at one or more DOE sites. These include:

* Constructing and operating a plutonium vitrification or ceramic immobilization facility at either Hanford or Savannah River Site including use of the 'can in canister' approach utilizing the already operational Defense Waste Processing Facility at Savannah River Site. This would also include constructing and operating a facility at these sites for conversion of non-pit plutonium materials (metal and oxides) to oxide forms for immobilization.

* Constructing and operating a pit disassembly/conversion facility at Hanford, Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, Pantex or Savannah River Site.

* Constructing and operating a domestic, government-owned, mixed oxide fuel fabrication facility at Hanford, Idaho National Engineering Laboratory, Pantex or Savannah River.

The future disposition of the surplus plutonium, using either or both of these technological approaches, would depend on the near-term results from technology development and tests, site-specific environmental analyses and detailed cost proposals as well as nonproliferation considerations and progress in efforts and negotiations with Russia and other nations. The work ahead will now provide the President with the basis and flexibility to initiate plutonium disposition either multilaterally or bilaterally through negotiations or unilaterally as an example to Russia and other nations."

Stockpile Stewardship and Management Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement

Extracts

"Overview

The Department of Energy must conduct its nuclear weapon mission within the national security policy framework defined by the President and Congress. In addition to directives and authorizations developed on a National basis, this framework includes international treaties: the START I, START II, Nuclear Nonproliferation, and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaties. The resulting National security policy requires that the US maintain a nuclear deterrence for the foreseeable future, but without nuclear testing and without the production of new weapons. In order to satisfy this mission within these constraints, the DOE has developed the Stockpile Stewardship and Management program to maintain the safety and reliability of a smaller aging US nuclear weapons stockpile in the absence of nuclear testing.

Preferred Alternative

The Final SSM PEIS examines the future missions required of the three weapons laboratories (Los Alamos, Sandia, and Lawrence Livermore), the four industrial plants (Kansas City, Pantex, Savannah River and Oak Ridge Y-12) and the Nevada Test Site. The preferred alternative would continue operations at all eight sites but make changes consistent with post-Cold War needs. The adjustments would include constructing and operating three new facilities to provide the experimental capabilities needed to ensure the safety and reliability of the stockpile in the absence of underground nuclear testing:

* National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (California)

* Contained Firing Facility at Lawrence Livermore (California)

* Atlas Facility at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (New Mexico).

The preferred alternative for providing the needed capacity for maintenance, surveillance, repair and dismantlement is to downsize three operations:

* Secondary and case component fabrication mission at Y-12

* Weapons assembly/disassembly and high-explosive-component fabrication missions at Pantex

* The nonnuclear component fabrication mission at Kansas City.

Also, DOE's preferred alternative is to re-establish, on a small scale, the capability to make pits - the plutonium core of a nuclear weapon - at Los Alamos to support the existing stockpile.

The downsizing effort would begin in 1998. The $170 million that would be spent to accomplish the downsizing should be recouped by 2003 and result in total savings of about $1 billion by 2010, according to an analysis supporting the PEIS. Much of the workforce downsizing has already occurred due to reduced workload requirements. Further workforce reductions anticipated by the preferred alternative could result in an additional 10 to 15 percent reduction in the overall Defense Programs-funded, complex-wide workforce after 1998. ..."

Pantex Final Environmental Impact Statement

Extracts

"Overview

The Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Continued Operation of the Pantex Plant and Associated Storage of Nuclear Weapon Components analyzes the environmental impacts associated with ongoing operations at the Pantex Plant near Amarillo, Texas, over the next 10 years and evaluates impacts associated with an increase in the number of nuclear weapon pits stored on an interim basis at the plant. The EIS also evaluates alternative sites for the interim storage of pits. While most of the work currently taking place at the Pantex Plant relates to the disassembly of nuclear weapons, the plant must be capable of responding to any mix of assembly, disassembly, modification, or quality assurance operations that may be necessary to maintain the stockpile in the future. Other activities at Pantex Plant include research and production of high explosives, waste management, environmental protection, environmental restoration, and onsite transportation, as required.

Preferred Alternative

The preferred alternative includes performing or maintaining the capability to perform all of the historical and current operations at Pantex Plant, interim storage of up to 20,000 pits, and performing all required upgrades, modifications, and replacement of facilities and equipment required to maintain operations at the plant. New proposed projects include the Hazardous Waste Treatment and Processing Facility, Pit Re-use Facility, Gas Analysis Laboratory, Materials Compatibility Assurance Facility, Nondestructive Evaluation Facility, and Metrology and Health Physics Calibration and Acceptance Facility.

During preparation of the EIS two conditions were identified which, under unusual circumstances, could result in the release of plutonium. These conditions are being mitigated to further reduce the already low probability of their occurrence. In the first situation, small gaps between doors and frames of the assembly/disassembly bays were identified. The gaps are being reduced and additional work is planned to prevent the inadvertent release of plutonium. The second situation involved an aircraft accident on the Pantex Site. DOE is also working with the Federal Aviation Administration to relocate navigational aids and change navigation routes to reduce the possibility of an aircraft accident.

Other Alternatives Considered

Two other alternatives were evaluated in the EIS. The No Action Alternative considered all of the activities historically performed at the plant, storage of up to 12,000 pits, and implementation only of projects already approved and funded. Dismantlement would have ceased once a storage level of 12,000 pits had been reached. The EIS also considered a Relocation of Interim Pit Storage Alternative which examined relocating the interim storage of either 8,000 or 20,000 pits to other sites but retaining all the other activities historically performed at Pantex and implementing all required upgrades, modifications, and replacement of facilities and equipment required to maintain these operations at the plant. ..."

Nevada Record of Decision

Extracts

"Overview

The end of the Cold War, the indefinite extension of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the signing of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty have altered the need for and future uses of the Department's nuclear weapons testing activities at the NTS. The purpose of the Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Nevada Test Site and Offsite Locations in the State of Nevada (NTS EIS) was to analyze the impacts from existing and future DOE programs at the following sites: the NTS, the Tonopah Test Range, portions of the Nellis Air Force Range Complex (NAFR Complex), the Central Nevada Test Area, and Project Shoal Area. These programs include ongoing activities for the stewardship of the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile, management of radioactive waste, and environmental restoration. Also examined are the proposed Solar Enterprise Zone facility sites at the NTS, Eldorado Valley, Dry Lake Valley, and Coyote Spring Valley, all in the State of Nevada.

The preferred alternatives selected by the Department will provide for the following activities.

Program Decisions

Defense Program

Defense Programs activities at the Nevada Test Site will emphasize experiments and operations to maintain confidence in the safety and reliability of the stockpile without underground nuclear testing. These stockpile stewardship activities will include exercises, operations, experiments (including subcritical experiments involving special nuclear material), and other hydrodynamic tests. The subcritical experiments will provide an improved understanding of dynamic material properties of plutonium contained in nuclear weapons. This is essential for assessing nuclear warhead performance, reliability, and safety in the absence of underground testing. Data gained from these experiments will be critical to stockpile stewardship computer codes and modeling development efforts.

Appropriate transparency measures will be used to ensure that activities conducted at the Nevada Test Site are clearly consistent with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The DOE will also continue to maintain a nuclear test readiness, consistent with presidential direction at the Nevada Test Site but would conduct an underground nuclear test only if so directed by the President under the 'supreme national interest' provision of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. ...

Environmental Restoration Program

... The priority for approaching environmental restoration work will be to characterize and remediate the surface and shallow subsurface at the Project Shoal and Central Nevada Test Area sites. The deep subsurface at these sites will be characterized and modeled. Next in priority will be to characterize and remediate the contaminated sites on the Tonopah Test Range and the Nellis Air Force Range Complex.

The DOE will characterize sites on the Nevada Test Site beginning at the south end and progressing north. Areas with minimum contamination will be the first priority for characterization and remediation. ... Lowest in priority are those contaminated sites which are in areas designated for potential future weapons testing.

Nondefense Research and Development Program

The DOE will continue to support ongoing program operations and pursue diversification of use to include nondefense and private use of DOE's Nevada Test Site. These new initiatives will include the construction and operation of a solar power production facility and siting an Alternative Fuels Demonstration Project at the Nevada Test Site. ...

The Department will cooperate with the Corporation for Solar Technology and Renewable Resources, in the construction and operation of a 100 megawatt or less solar power production facility in Area 22. When operational this facility will enhance the Nevada Test Site power infrastructure in support of the primary science-based stockpile stewardship mission. ...

Work for Others Program

The DOE Nevada Operations Office Work for Others Program will continue to be an important aspect of Nevada Test Site related activities. These ongoing activities primarily involve work for the Department of Defense, the Defense Special Weapons Agency, and other federal agencies. The primary focus of these activities are centered around Treaty Verification, Nonproliferation, Counter proliferation, Demilitarization, and defense related research and development. ..."

Site-by-Site Summary

Site Specific Fact Sheets, 9 December 1996

Hanford

Hanford Site, Richland, Washington

"Current National Security Mission

* Hanford stores surplus quantities of plutonium and highly enriched uranium. ...

Storage and Disposition PEIS:
Preferred Alternative

Storage

* Continue current storage of surplus plutonium at Hanford, pending disposition (or shipment to another site prepositioning for future disposition). There are no nonsurplus weapons-usable plutonium materials currently stored at Hanford.

Disposition

* Hanford would be a candidate site to host a pit disassembly/conversion facility (Advanced Recovery and Integrated Extraction System-ARIES). In subsequent tiered NEPA reviews in 1997, DOE would analyze alternative locations at Hanford, Idaho, Pantex, and Savannah River, for constructing new or potentially using modified existing buildings for this function.

* Hanford would be a candidate site to host a government-owned, mixed oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication facility. In subsequent tiered NEPA reviews in 1997, DOE would analyze alternative locations at Hanford, Idaho, Pantex, and Savannah River, for constructing new or potentially using modified existing buildings for this function.

* Hanford would be a candidate site to host a new plutonium vitrification or ceramic immobilization facility in conjunction with its planned high level waste vitrification facilities. In subsequent, tiered NEPA reviews in 1997, DOE would analyze alternative locations at Hanford and Savannah River, for constructing new or potentially using modified existing buildings for this function. ...

* Hanford would be a candidate site to host a plutonium conversion facility which would be collocated with the vitrification or ceramic immobilization facility. In subsequent, tiered NEPA reviews in 1997, DOE would analyze alternative locations at Hanford and Savannah River, for constructing new or potentially using modified existing buildings for this function. ..."

Idaho Plant

Idaho Plant, Idaho Falls, Idaho

"Current National Security Mission

* INEL stores surplus quantities of plutonium and highly enriched uranium.

* The FY97 Defense Programs Budget at Idaho is $18 million. ...

Storage and Disposition PEIS:
Preferred Alternative

Storage

* Continue the current storage of surplus plutonium at INEL, pending disposition (or shipment to another site prepositioning for future disposition). There are no nonsurplus weapons-usable plutonium materials currently stored at INEL.

Disposition

* INEL would be a candidate site to host a pit disassembly/conversion facility (Advanced Recovery and Integrated Extraction System-ARIES). ...

* INEL would be a candidate site to host a government-owned, mixed oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication facility. ..."

Nevada

Nevada Test Site (NTS), South Central Nevada

"Current National Security Missions

* NTS conducts stockpile stewardship activities, and maintains a readiness to conduct underground nuclear testing.

* The FY97 Defense Programs Budget at NTS is $232 million. ...

Employment

* At the end of the Cold War (1990), the DOE Defense Programs workforce NTS was approximately 4,800.

* Currently, the Defense Programs workforce is approximately 2,000.

* On December 4, DOE announced involuntary layoff of 400 employees aimed at reducing costs and reductions in business from non-DP customers.

* The Department will provide worker and community transition assistance to help mitigate the impacts of these reductions.

Nevada Test Site Record of Decision

* This ROD implements most of the Department's preferred Expanded Use Alternative, which is to continue the multi-purpose, multi-program use of the Nevada Test Site (NTS), to pursue a further diversification of interagency and private industry uses, and to initiate certain public education activities.

* DP will continue stockpile stewardship activities including subcritical experiments and other hydrodynamic tests.

* The subcritical experiments will provide an improved understanding of dynamic material properties of plutonium, the fissile material in most stockpile primaries. This is essential for assessing nuclear warhead performance, reliability, and safety in the absence of underground testing. ...

* In conjunction with the Corporation for Solar Technology and Renewable Resources, the Department will cooperate in the construction and operation of a 100 megawatt or less solar power production facility in Area 22. When operational this facility will enhance the Nevada Test Site power infrastructure in support of the primary science-based stockpile stewardship mission. ..."

Oak Ridge

Oak Ridge Reservation, Oak Ridge, Tennessee

"Current National Security Missions

* The Y-12 facility at Oak Ridge is the Nation's facility for the fabrication of secondaries (the highly enriched uranium component in US nuclear warheads) and cases for nuclear weapons. Y-12 also stores highly enriched uranium.

* The FY97 Defense Programs Budget at Y-12 is $407 million.

Stockpile Stewardship and Management PEIS:
Preferred Alternative

* Downsizing the Y-12 facility is the Department's preferred alternative for the fabrication of secondaries and cases.

* DOE would begin downsizing in 1998. By about the year 2003, the Y-12 facility would be approximately 10-20 percent the size of the existing plant and would be appropriately sized to support the stockpile for the foreseeable future. ...

* To support the reduced future stockpile, a facility capacity for several hundred secondaries and cases per year will be maintained...

Employment

* At the end of the Cold War (1990), the workforce at the Y-12 facility was approximately 7,170.

* Currently, the workforce at the Y-12 facility is approximately 5,150.

* Once downsizing is complete in approximately the year 2003, the DOE Defense Programs and Material Disposition workforce at the Y-12 facility is expected to be in the range of 3,120 to 3,420. ...

Storage and Disposition PEIS:
Preferred Alternative

Storage

* Continue storage of surplus and non-surplus highly enriched uranium (HEU). Upgrade storage facilities at the Y-12 Plant (to be completed by 2004), pending disposition. Strategic reserve HEU would be stored at the Y-12 Plant, consistent with the Preferred Alternative in the Stockpile Stewardship and Management PEIS.

* The amount of HEU in storage would decrease and storage facilities would be consolidated as surplus HEU is dispositioned and blended-down to low-enriched uranium over the next 15-20 years (per the HEU Disposition Record of Decision, July 1996). ..."

Pantex

Pantex Plant, Amarillo, Texas

"Current National Security Missions

* Pantex is the nation's facility for the assembly/disassembly of nuclear weapons. Pantex also fabricates high explosives used in nuclear weapons, and stores plutonium pits from dismantled nuclear weapons.

* Since 1990, the Pantex mission has focused primarily on dismantling nuclear weapons. Since that time, Pantex has dismantled more than 8,000 nuclear weapons. In addition, Pantex performs modifications and surveillance of nuclear weapons scheduled to remain in the future stockpile.

* The FY97 Defense Programs Budget at Pantex is $271 million.

Stockpile Stewardship and Management PEIS:
Preferred Alternative

* Downsizing the Pantex Plant is the Department's preferred alternative for the assembly /disassembly mission and the high explosives fabrication mission.

* DOE would begin downsizing in 1998. By approximately the year 2005, the Pantex Plant would be approximately two-thirds the size of the existing plant and would be appropriately sized to support the stockpile for the foreseeable future.

* No new construction would take place. ...

* Future workload is expected to decrease from the current throughput of 1,000-2,000 weapons per year to several hundred weapons per year.

Employment

* At the end of the Cold War (1990), the workforce at Pantex was approximately 2,200.

* Currently, the workforce at Pantex is approximately 3,440. The increase over 1990 levels is due to the increased workload associated with the dismantlement program, and increased emphasis on environment, safety, and health issues.

* The week of 2 December, DOE announced a voluntary workforce reduction of 350 employees to take advantage of improved efficiency. ...

* Once downsizing is complete, in approximately the year 2003, the DP workforce at Pantex is expected to be in the range of 1,270 to 1,740.

Storage and Disposition PEIS:
Preferred Alternative

Storage

* Plutonium pits would be moved from Rocky Flats to Pantex starting as early as 1997. ...

* Upgrade storage facilities at Zone 12 South (to be completed by 2004) to store surplus pits currently at Pantex, and pits from Rocky Flats, pending disposition. This action would place pits at a central location where most pits already reside and where expertise and infrastructure exist to accommodate pit storage.

* Strategic Reserve pits would be stored at Pantex in the facilities discussed in accordance with the preferred alternative in the Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement for Stockpile Stewardship and Management.

Disposition

* Pantex would be a candidate site to host a pit disassembly/conversion facility (Advanced Recovery and Integrated Extraction System #150; ARIES). In subsequent tiered NEPA reviews in 1997, DOE would analyze alternative locations at Hanford, Idaho, Pantex, and Savannah River, for constructing new or potentially using modified existing buildings for this function.

* Pantex would be a candidate site to host a government-owned, mixed oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication facility. In subsequent tiered NEPA reviews in 1997, DOE would analyze alternative locations at Hanford, Idaho, Pantex, and Savannah River, for constructing new or potentially using modified existing buildings for this function. ...

Pantex site wide EIS:
Preferred Alternative

* Continues all historical and current missions including the assembly/disassembly mission and the high explosive fabrication mission at Pantex.

* Increases the interim storage level for plutonium components (pits) at Pantex Zone 4 facilities from 12,000 to 20,000 pits.

* Recommends implementation of all required upgrades, modifications, and replacement of facilities and equipment required to maintain operations. ..."

Rocky Flats

Rocky Flats Plant, Golden, Colorado

"Current National Security Mission

* Rocky Flats stores surplus quantities of plutonium and highly enriched uranium.

* The FY97 Defense Programs Budget at Rocky Flats is $48 million. ...

Storage and Disposition PEIS:
Preferred Alternative

Storage

* DOE would begin moving all weapons-usable plutonium from Rocky Flats as soon as possible, transporting the pits to Pantex as early as 1997, and the separated and stabilized, non-pit plutonium materials to Savannah River by 2002. ..."

Savannah River

Savannah River Site (SRS), Aiken, South Carolina

"Current National Security Mission

* SRS is the DOE site for conducting stockpile management activities associated with tritium recycling and tritium extraction (once a new tritium source comes on line).

* The FY97 Defense Programs Budget at SRS is $129 million. ...

Employment

* At the end of the Cold War (1990), the DOE Defense Programs workforce at SRS was approximately 23,000.

* With the transfer of the site's landlord responsibilities to Environmental Management in 1995, the workforce associated with the tritium mission, the only remaining Defense Programs mission, is currently approximately 1,000.

* Approximately an additional 170 people will be associated with the Tritium Extraction Facility.

* There are approximately 14,000 EM employees at SRS.

Storage and Disposition PEIS:
Preferred Alternative

Storage

* Expand the planned new Actinide Packaging and Storage Facility to store the separated and stabilized non-pit plutonium materials from Rocky Flats, pending disposition. This action would place non-pit plutonium materials in a new storage facility, in a location with existing expertise and plutonium handling capabilities and where potential disposition activities could occur. The Actinide Packaging and Storage Facility, including the expansion to accommodate Rocky Flats material, would be completed by 2002.

Disposition

* Savannah River would be a candidate site to host a plutonium vitrification or ceramic immobilization facility. In subsequent, tiered NEPA reviews in 1997, DOE would analyze alternative locations at Hanford and Savannah River, for constructing new or potentially using modified existing buildings for this function. DOE would continue the research and development leading to the near-term demonstration of the 'can-in-canister' variant for plutonium disposition using the already operational Defense Waste Processing Facility at Savannah River.

* Savannah River would be a candidate site to host a plutonium conversionöfacility which would be collocated with the vitrification or ceramic immobilization facility. ...

* Savannah River would be a candidate site to host a pit disasembly/conversion facility (Advanced Recovery and Integrated Extraction System-ARIES). ...

* Savannah River would be a candidate site to host a government-owned, mixed oxide (MOX) fuel fabrication facility. ..."

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

Return to top of page

Return to List of Contents

Return to Acronym Main Page