BLOG purpose

This BLOG is for LLNL present and past employees, friends of LLNL and anyone impacted by the privatization of the Lab to express their opinions and expose the waste, wrongdoing and any kind of injustice against employees and taxpayers by LLNS/DOE/NNSA. The opinions stated are personal opinions. Therefore, The BLOG author may or may not agree with them before making the decision to post them. Comments not conforming to BLOG rules are deleted. Blog author serves as a moderator. For new topics or suggestions, email jlscoob5@gmail.com

Monday, December 31, 2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR FROM SCOOBY!

I wish all the visitors and contributors of this BLOG a happy new year.
2013 will be the 6th year of this BLOG!
I hope 2013 will bring a more positive outlook, a fresh attitude of tolerance and optimism to everyone.
Together, let us uses this BLOG more constructively!

Scooby

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Should the Nuclear Weapons Complex be Broken up?



The real push back on moving nuclear weapons research and production work out of DOE to DOD has always come from the House and Senate congressional committees over the DOE (and its predecessor agencies). No one wants to give up such a large part of their territory to another committee. Also the committee prestige derived from overseeing the "crown jewels" national labs (LANL, LLNL, and SNL) and their combined Billion Dollar annual budgets.

I still think there's a change that some change may come out of this latest congressional mandated review of NNSA.

Everyone from the White House to Congress to the Lab Directors to the DOD customers recognizes that NNSA is broken. And as we've all read, even ex-NNSA leadership is saying its broken and not working the way Congress had intended. The only ones that remotely seem happy are the "for profit" contractor entities running the NNSA production sites, since they just have to follow NNSA orders without questioning them or pushing back, and if they do this they get their management fees. The NNSA science Labs on the other hand are full of relatively smart people raised/educated to question things and push boundaries.

A possible solution that the powerful Congressional Committees might buy off on... divide the NNSA mess into its key functions - research/science (LANL, LLNL), applied engineering (SNL), and testing/production (Pantex, KCP, Y-12, SRS, NTS).

Move testing/production to DOD (as an separate agency, similar to DARPA and NSA) and keep research/science in DOE (office of science, and have their nuclear weapons work done as "Work for Others").

Not sure about where to put SNL. I tend to lean towards DOD, since it seems to function and have more in common with the existing DOD applied research and engineering labs (ie, Lincoln Lab). It is also on an Air Force Base and seems to do a significant amount of WFO for DOD customers.

I'd really like to hear some thoughts on this approach? Pluses... minuses...

Friday, December 28, 2012

Time to move nuclear weapons complex out of DOE



This article will carry a lot of weight in the on-going debate, since the WWII era concept to create a separate agency just for nuclear issues was a creation of the Manhattan project scientists. Look for special interest groups to oppose the move, then look at what they stand to loose when it happens. The salary, perks and unchecked controls are relics of bygone times.


http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/features/who-should-manage-the-nuclear-weapons-complex

Thursday, December 27, 2012

What does it mean for us?

Looks like more and more we will go over the cliff. What does that mean for LLNL, Sandia, and LANL

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Management/workforce gap


Happy Holidays everyone. I am certainly having a great time. Now that I have a bit of rest I have been thinking about what has changed over the last 25 yrs. I would say the big changes have been in the last 12 to 20 yrs. There have been many but the clearest to me has been in management and managers attitudes. This has been not just in change of managers (which I have seen a lot of) but also people I knew very well who changed over time in management. Years ago managers had varied styles and views but today it is pretty much the same view. Let me explain the current views.
First there is this universal belief that management is very different from the workforce in that they are privy to the realities of the world and that the workforce is sheltered and simply does not understand the ways of the world. To be specific I am told consistently by managers that the non-managers have a naive view of the work world and believe that there is some inherent quantity called excellence, value, true purpose, or truth. The workers also believe they are special or smarter, and cannot be replaced or that the whole institute itself cannot be replaced. A management mantra is that everything really is nothing more than perception, building perception, and maintaining perception. We have to flow and mold with the current perceptions
and to attempt to counter such perceptions is foolish in two ways, (1) that in the end there really is no truth so you will ultimately have nothing to stand on. (2) That the people in charge such Congress and to an extent the American people will not, cannot and have no desire to understand the truth even is such a thing existed. Therefore in order for the labs to survive we must embrace these realities. Ideas installed into graduate students and postdocs of great science or engineering simplistic and will not lead to successful survivability. I have tried to nicely argue with a few of the managers and usually get the argument that my view is just not consistent with modern world or that you just don't get it do you.

Now in the "old days" the managers had also sorts of views some of them pretty harsh. but none of them had this sort modern view.
To me this seems like a postmodern worldview that there are no objective truths at all and everything is political.

I may indeed by naive but do modern corporations also believe this kind of stuff?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
I too have noticed a big change in management. I would agree with the above, but with a small twist. That is perceptions are more important than substance. Managment can go a long way based solely on perceptions. They hope to move on before reality demonstrates that their "snake oil" doesn't work. If a manager can keep ahead of the destruction he causes, the new schmuck coming in behind him can take the blame

Does LANL get another chance?


Does LANL get another chance?

After the several well publicized failures this past year, will LANL get a contract extension from NNSA? Was one of Tom D's final acts to fix this? Anyone know the answer here?

coment:
Comment:

LANS is doing a good job. Just look at their reward fee and compare it to what UC used to make.

10MJ to 2MJ: Justifications

10MJ to 2MJ: NIF and the background behind the justifications and margin for the current design.

Many formerly at the lab have described a series of events that ultimately led to the current 2MJ design. From what was known at the time, 10MJ was the energy needed. That kind of energy is easy to deliver using high explosives, for example. But I'm confused as to how a much lower energy delivered by a method (laser) untested could be justified as having sufficient margins. Does 10MJ provide overly massive margins for ignition? Does anyone have open literature references for better explaining the decisions and events leading to the current design?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Defense authorization bill for fiscal 2013

By Douglas P. Guarino
Global Security Newswire
WASHINGTON – The Senate on Friday approved a defense authorization bill for fiscal 2013 that would mandate construction of a new nuclear weapons laboratory and storage facility in New Mexico but that lacks many other controversial nuclear security provisions lawmakers considered earlier this year.

The 81-14 Senate vote on the of legislation followed House approval of the latest version of the same bill on Thursday by a vote of 315-107. The bill authorizes – but does not appropriate -- $527.5 billion in base Defense Department spending, $88.5 billion for overseas operations, and $17.4 billion for defense-related nuclear programs managed by the Energy Department.

The bill now goes to the White House for the president’s signature.

Both chambers approved the measure without additional amendments to the conference committee version that resolved differences between the House and Senate defense bills.The legislation lacks many controversial provisions House Republicans had originally sought to include, such as limitations on the implementation of the New START nuclear arms control treaty with Russia.

In addition, the bill does not include controversial language limiting DOE oversight of its semiautonomous National Nuclear Security Administration. Instead, a special congressional panel would study whether the governing structure of the U.S. nuclear weapons complex ought to be changed in the future.

The legislation also does not authorize funds for construction of an East Coast ballistic missile defense interceptor site, as some House Republicans had sought. Rather, it requires the Defense Department to study no fewer than three potential new sites, at least two of which must be on the East Coast.

The bill eliminates funding for the multinational Medium Extended Air Defense System, a battlefield system meant to intercept threats including tactical or medium-range ballistic missiles and aircraft.

Lawmakers did, however, mandate construction of the New Mexico facility by 2026. The Obama administration had sought to delay work on the new building, which is part of the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Project at the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

Also included is language intended to spur domestic production of isotopes used in medical diagnostic procedures without the use of highly enriched uranium, which could be used to build a nuclear weapon if it fell into the wrong hands.

In addition, it sets the stage for additional sanctions intended to discourage Iran from pursuing a nuclear-weapon capacity, by designating Tehran’s energy, port, shipping and shipbuilding sectors as “entities of proliferation concern.”

D'Agostino to resign in January

D'Agostino to resign in January

Let the games begin! Who will be the new Administrator of NNSA? And, perhaps more importantly, will it matter one way or the other to LLNL?


Comment:


Steve Younger will be the one.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Still a hole in Y-12's fence

4 1/2 months after unprecedented break-in, there's still a hole in Y-12's fence

This should be the end for the whole show. Chu, D'Agostino, Cook all should depart before the week is over and Congress should add a last minute rider to the defense bill to move the nuclear weapons complex to DoD.

Representative Turner, where are you when the country is in need of quick and decisive action?

http://blogs.knoxnews.com/munger/2012/12/still-a-hole-in-y-12s-fence.html

Sequestration's fiscal cliff or not, LLNL employees report to work

Sequestration's fiscal cliff or not, LLNL employees report to work
NEWSLINE
12/19/2012

The Laboratory will be open for normal business on Jan. 2, 2013, no matter what happens in the last days of 2012 in Washington with the FY13 budget between now and the deadline for sequestration (Jan. 1).

Sequestration refers to a series of automatic, across-the-board spending cuts and tax hikes that will take place should the Congress and the Administration reach an impasse on its debt reduction plan. Every line item of the budget is impacted with no exceptions at present.

All employees should plan to report to work as scheduled on Jan. 2.

Any information on the impact of budget cuts or changes going forward as a result of reaching this "fiscal cliff" will be provided at a later date as soon as the Lab receives more guidance from the federal government reaction, stakeholders and other customers.

Tauscher Favors More Autonomous NNSA

Weapons Complex Monitor
December 19, 2012

Tauscher Favors More Autonomous NNSA

Former Congresswoman and Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher weighed in on NNSA governance during a speech at the American Security Project yesterday, suggesting that she supported much of the reform language in the House and ultimately said she’d favor making NNSA an autonomous agency that reports to the Energy Secretary without the baggage of DOE bureaucracy. As a California Congresswoman [her district included LLNL], Tauscher was instrumental in creating the NNSA in 1999, and she said NNSA could be structured like NASA or the Securities Exchange Commission, with a link to the Energy Secretary and “understanding that this is so important that the President has to be involved at times, and maybe with a director that is somebody with a real pedigree that gets appointed, like the FBI director, for 10 years so that there’s not a question of in and out and up and down.”

Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Authorization Act

Weapons Complex Monitor
December 18, 2012

The House is expected to unveil the conference version of the Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Authorization Act this evening, and it is likely to include language creating an advisory panel to review governance options for the National Nuclear Security Administration, NW&M Monitor has learned. During Senate consideration of the bill, Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Tom Udall introduced an amendment to create the 12-member panel, largely to provide a compromise between Senate Democrats and House Republicans at odds over language targeted at reforming the NNSA in the House version of the bill. While it’s unclear how much of the House reform language survived conference negotiations, the panel would provide a means of pushing the debate into work on the Fiscal Year 2014 Defense Authorization Act.

The House language would increase the autonomy of the NNSA in an effort to improve efficiency and productivity while also streamlining directives and regulations, moving the agency toward performance-based oversight and eliminating oversight of the agency by the Department of Energy’s Office of Health, Safety and Security. The language was opposed by the Administration and unions, as well as by some House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans in the wake of the July 28 security breach at the Y-12 National Security Complex, which is believed to have eroded some negotiating leverage for proponents of the reform language. That likely made the Kyl-Udall amendment an appealing compromise, especially because the panel will only review and lay out options for NNSA governance, including whether or not the agency should remain in DOE, leaving hard decisions to lawmakers.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Is management uncomfortable with this BLOG?

I wonder if the lab could try to put pressure on scooby because these threads are probably making lab management uncomfortable, especially all of the posts that air out the lab's dirty laundry. Heavy handed methods are used to silence their own employees, but I don't know of an example where they actually had any power to silence people on the outside. But I wouldn't put it past the lab to try.


Comment:

Get a lawyer AND a publicist if it happens. This is the kind of stuff that should hit the news, if the lab is going to try to beat up on private citizens on top of all the lies and deception.

Fiscal Cliff" Prompts Fresh Push for U.S. Nuke Spending Cut

Good stuff here

http://www.nti.org/gsn/article/fiscal-cliff-talks-prompt-new-call-curb-us-nuke-spending/

Fiscal Cliff" Prompts Fresh Push for U.S. Nuke Spending Cut

WASHINGTON -- Dozens of Democratic lawmakers have revived a call for $100 billion in U.S. nuclear weapons spending reductions over 10 years as Congress pushes to enact $1.2 trillion in deficit reductions by the beginning of January.

"Unchecked spending on nuclear weapons threatens to push us over the fiscal cliff," Representative Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and 44 other House Democrats stated in a Dec. 4 letter to the top Democratic and Republican lawmakers in both chambers, citing the term popularly used to refer to the anticipated funding moves. "We know there is plenty of waste in the nuclear weapons budget."

The lawmakers singled out plans to refurbish approximately 400 B-61 nuclear gravity bombs, a project expected to cost roughly $10 billion. They also cited the scheduled construction of a new highly enriched uranium processing facility in Tennessee; the effort is projected to cost between $4.2 billion and $6.5 billion.

Anonymous said...
I wonder why they didn't site NIF which is directly weapons related and cut their funds by 50% or more immediately. I guess good snow-jobs pay off. I do think they're going to cut LANL for the next five years. Again, it's time for a 3&3 VSIP and save the jobs for the young who need another 30-45 years before they can retire. helloooo !!! NNSA, Anyone in their ?
Anonymous said...
"Dozens of Democratic lawmakers have revived a call for $100 billion in U.S. nuclear weapons spending..."

This from the same bunch that hasn't passed a budget in 3+ yrs. Congress spills more than $10bil/yr.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Laser fusion put on slow burn

Laser fusion put on slow burn

The US National Ignition Facility rethinks its strategy on achieving thermonuclear fusion in the lab, but fails to silence critics.

Geoff Brumfiel
Nature
11 December 2012

The government's new plan, revealed to Nature, calls for a slower, more deliberate approach to achieving ignition: the point at which more energy is produced by a fusion reaction than is consumed. Many physicists believe that this would be an important proof of concept for controlled fusion.

The plan sets a new course for the laser at the National Ignition Facility at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California. It also promotes the exploration of several alternative ways to reach ignition, including one not involving the laser. And it is more tentative than the previous strategy: it sets a three-year deadline for finding out whether ignition is possible at all, whereas the last one aimed to demonstrate actual fusion...

The US$3.5-billion NIF uses lasers to crush a 2-millimetre pellet of hydrogen fuel to the point of fusion. Rather than irradiating the fuel directly, the lasers shine into a cylindrical capsule. The capsule walls then emit X-rays that squeeze the fuel pellet until it explodes.

This indirect approach mimics the ignition system in a thermonuclear weapon, which uses radiation from a fission 'primary' stage to squeeze hydrogen isotopes in the fusion 'secondary' — creating a powerful explosion.

The NIF's main mission is to gather laboratory data on the process to help weapons scientists to care for the ageing US nuclear stockpile. The United States has adhered to a voluntary moratorium on testing nuclear weapons since 1992, so nuclear scientists must use computer simulations to check that the weapons still work, and NIF data feed into these models.

Physicists at the NIF also hope that the process might pave the way for producing electrical power through thermonuclear fusion.

The latest plan was drafted by the NNSA, which oversees the lab, in response to a congressional request for a strategy for achieving ignition.

Over the next three years, researchers will conduct reduced-power tests to refine their computer simulations and understand why ignition has been so elusive. They will also look at possible improvements to the capsule design.

Other promising approaches to be studied include using lasers to ignite the hydrogen fuel inside the pellet directly, and using a machine called the Z-pinch to squeeze the fuel inside a magnetic field.

By October 2015, the NNSA hopes, it will be able to say whether ignition can be achieved using the NIF or the Z-pinch. Failure, it warns, could have serious implications for the nuclear-weapons programme.

The more sedate approach follows "common sense", says Ricardo Betti, a physicist at the University of Rochester in New York. But he worries that the plan does not give enough time to ignition experiments, focusing instead on other nuclear-weapons experiments and fundamental science. Devoting less time to ignition reduces the probability of success, he warns...

http://www.nature.com/news/laser-fusion-put-on-slow-burn-1.12016

http://www.nature.com/polopoly_fs/7.7875!/file/Report%20to%20Congress-NIF%20Path%20Forward-December%207%202012.pdf

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

NAPA Study Of Nat’l Labs Recommend More Strategic Approach

Weapons Complex Monitor

December 10, 2012

NAPA Study Of Nat’l Labs Recommend More Strategic Approach

A forthcoming National Academy of Public Administration report concludes that the Department of Energy needs to be more strategic in how it manages its laboratories, DOE Office of Management Director Ingrid Kolb said last week at the Energy Facility Contractors Group semiannual meeting. NAPA is expected to release its Congressionally mandated study in January, but Kolb outlined the initial findings last week, noting that one of the group’s main recommendations will be to establish an external commission that would examine how the Department is strategically planning work done at the laboratories. The study was mandated by Fiscal Year 2012 omnibus appropriations legislation. “They particularly wanted to emphasize that the labs should be focused on work that supports national needs,” Kolb said. “They thought we were a little too focused on just the science world, just the NNSA world, just the energy world. They want to see more integration.”

Kolb said NAPA is also recommending that other commissions be created to look at how the Department is funding infrastructure improvements at the laboratories, including using third party financing alternatives, that the funds distribution system for the labs be streamlined, and more clarity provided on the role of Contractor Assurance Systems. “I think it’s a very good idea since CAS seems to mean different things to different people,” she said. Kolb also said the NAPA study also urged DOE to move to more “outcome-based” assessments of laboratory performance rather than more transaction-based oversight. “The Office of Science uses such a system,” she said, “but other systems in DOE get much more down in the weeds with lots of performance indicators.”

LANL accountability

The Energy Department’s internal watchdog has identified more than $470 million in unresolved and unaudited spending at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, with much of the total dating to 2003.

Deputy Inspector General Rickey R. Hass did not allege misuse of funds in the report Monday. Still, he said resolution of the reviews “ensures that costs charged to the government are allowable, makes certain that taxpayer’s money is spent wisely, and has the potential to free significant funds that would be better spent on Los Alamos' mission critical program activities.”

The department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, which manages the laboratory, did not challenge the findings and pledged to resolve the outstanding cost questions by next year.

A department spokesman offered no additional comment.

Read more:
http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2012/nov/27/nearly-a-decade-later-los-alamos-still-hasnt-accou/#ixzz2Eja2xJgA

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A word from SPSE-UPTE Local 11

Greetings,
Far-reaching changes in LLNL personnel policy go into effect this January 1, and Lab management has undergone an extensive campaign to “spin” these changes. In our December 2012 monthly memo (http://www.upte.org/spse/Dec2012MonthlyMemo1.pdf) we discuss the changes and how they will affect you and the future of our Laboratory.

We are also hosting one of our Noontime Talks on this subject this coming Wednesday, December 12, in building 453 Armadillo Room 1001. We invite you to attend, and bring your questions and comments.

If you cannot attend our talk, please feel free to contact us directly:

Thanks,
Riki Gay
President-elect SPSE-UPTE Local 11

Thursday, December 6, 2012

LANL Firm To Pay $10M

=== LANL Firm To Pay $10M ===

By John Fleck / Journal Staff - Wed, Dec 5, 2012

The contractor that runs Los Alamos National Laboratory is on the hook for $10 million as a result of construction management problems that mean the new security system at the lab’s primary plutonium site does not work, the lab and the National Nuclear Security Administration said in a joint statement issued late Tuesday.

The $10 million will cover “potentially unallowable costs” incurred in construction of the $213 million security system built around the lab’s Technical Area 55 plutonium complex, where the dangerously radioactive metal is used in the manufacture of nuclear weapon parts.

The money will come from Los Alamos National Security LLC, also known as LANS, a private company that is a partnership of Bechtel Corp., the University of California and a number of other firms. The company manages Los Alamos, a nuclear weapons research and manufacturing center, for the federal government.

The lab abruptly halted work on the project in October. Initial testing of the new Nuclear Materials Safeguards and Security Upgrades Project (NMSSUP) security system, involving fencing, sensors and other security technology, showed it did not work, but the lab was out of money to begin fixing it.
--------------

Don't expect LANS to take the penalty payment out of their annual profit fee. Bechtel will probably demand that it come out of the labs operating program budgets (a new project "tax"") and maybe even move to have it covered using more LANL employee salary and benefit reductions.



LANL Contractor To Pay $10 Million

LANL Contractor To Pay $10 Million

LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) — The contractor that runs Los Alamos National Laboratory says it will pay $10 million to cover some of the costs for fixing a faulty $213 million security system.

The Albuquerque Journal reports the money will cover “potentially unallowable costs” incurred in construction of the system, which was built around the only place in the country where nuclear weapon triggers can be made.

Citing a joint statement from the lab and the National Nuclear Security Administration, the Journal says the money will come from Los Alamos National Security, the private contractor that runs the lab.

Officials have estimated it will take an additional $41 million and another six months to fix the system, which was supposed to be up and running this summer.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

National Ignition Facility seeks new cash

National Ignition Facility seeks new cash
David Perlman
San Francisco Chronicle
Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The elusive effort to mimic the explosive violence of hydrogen bombs inside Livermore's giant National Ignition Facility, long delayed, now faces intense scrutiny by a dollar-conscious Congress.

The National Nuclear Security Agency in charge of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory says in a draft report to Congress that the lab's scientists should conduct at least three more years of experiments. An estimated $5 billion or more has been spent over the past 10 years to build and run the project called NIF, and current experiments are running at least $450 million a year.

Congress had set the end of this year as the deadline for "ignition," as the goal is termed. Now the nuclear agency's report says the extension is needed for NIF scientists to consider two very different and untried technical approaches to the extraordinarily complex physics problems that have prevented them so far from achieving their goal of duplicating the explosion of an H-bomb in the lab.

Congressional experts are reviewing the report and some are highly skeptical about its eventual success. The final report from the nuclear security agency is expected early next week, when congressional staff specialists will begin considering its implications for NIF's future.

NIF's goal is still "very, very far away," said one congressional expert who follows the technical details closely. The expert, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak publicly about the project, complained that the nuclear agency appears to be asking Congress for a "blank check" until at least 2015.

"They're asking us to give them a blank check ... and then we'd see where we are," the expert said. "That worries me. They're not even close."

The ultimate aim of NIF's nuclear weapons scientists is to understand the obscure physics involved in thermonuclear fusion, validate related computer codes, and thereby assure the safety and reliability of America's aging weapons stockpile without the underground bomb tests that are now banned by international treaty...

But after 35 experiments and more than 1,000 laser shots since NIF scientists began three years ago, the effort has fallen short. In order to achieve ignition, the laser beams would have to produce between three and 10 times more energy and heat than they have been able to accomplish, the report said.

Just where the problems lie remains a mystery. A national committee of laser experts headed by Stanford physicist Robert L. Byer recently had high praise for the NIF laser's "robust operation" and said it has "met and exceeded its design goals." The NIF scientists, the committee concluded, are on a credible path toward upgrading the laser array to reach the energies needed for ignition...

NIF project director Ed Moses declined to comment on the report until its final version is complete. But he said it's impossible to make predictions about success in any field where such complex science is involved...

In experiments so far, the laser shots fired at target after target have yielded pressures 15o billion times Earth's atmosphere, he said, but pressures twice as high are still needed for ignition...

But NIF's giant laser array is now performing spectacularly, he said, and its total output of energy and power is "more than we need," Moses said.

Senate OKs Study of Nuclear Agency

Senate OKs Study of Nuclear Agency

By Michael Coleman
Albuquerque Journal
Wed, Dec 5, 2012

WASHINGTON – Sen. Tom Udall’s push for a congressional study of the National Nuclear Security Administration gained steam Tuesday when the Senate included his proposal in a bill authorizing defense programs.

The New Mexico Democrat’s amendment would create an advisory panel to suggest ways to reform NNSA, the federal agency that oversees New Mexico’s nuclear laboratories.

Udall’s amendment was incorporated in the Senate defense authorization bill, which unanimously passed the Senate on Tuesday. The House version of the defense legislation, approved in May, does not include Udall’s amendment, but it could be added in House-Senate negotiations on a final bill.

The House version does include a separate amendment sponsored by Rep. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., that calls for an independent study of how best to broaden the labs’ national security missions.

“Multiple reports have called attention to the need to expand the labs’ mission in order to strengthen their capabilities,” Luján said.

Udall said that the NNSA is plagued by cost overruns, security breaches and management issues and that the problems damage the science and nuclear stockpile stewardship missions of the national labs.

“The ineffectiveness of the NNSA is a serious national security issue, and our amendment will take a good look at what is needed to reform it,” Udall said Tuesday in a statement provided to the Journal.

The panel would “assess the feasibility and advisability of, and make recommendations with respect to, revising the governance structure of the National Nuclear Security Administration,” according to Udall’s office.

The 12-member panel’s membership would be bipartisan, with members appointed from the House and Senate Armed Services committees. The members would be appointed for one year and would be responsible for submitting a report within 120 days of enactment of the amendment.

The report would make specific recommendations, including how to improve scientific work, safety and employee retention. The study would also explore ways to diversify the national labs’ missions.

Among the directives in the amendment is a requirement that the panel consider whether oversight of the nation’s nuclear weapons complex should “remain with the (presidential) administration or be transferred to another agency.” Some NNSA critics have suggested the nuclear weapons labs should fall under the purview of the Department of Defense.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

"deuterium EOS" issue?

Could we perhaps break the usual rules on this blog and have somebody post the actual facts related to the "deuterium EOS" issue? What actually happened, or didn't happen that was supposed to?

It would be acceptable to accompany the facts with the usual diatribe, but maybe put that in a separate paragraph?

Scooby's note: what the heck is  "deuterium EOS:?

Mikey sightings

There have been reports of Mikey sightings several times lately at the NSSB. Any news on if he has been called back to help Charlie? By this point even the blind can see that Charlie was not up to the job, but it is hard to imagine what could be offered to entice Mikey to return.

Art Wong's Q&A

Art Wong's Q&A today on changes in LLNL's Workforce Mgmt Policies --anything of note asked? answered? not answered/ducked?

Monday, December 3, 2012

How did Chu do in front of Congress?

Does anyone know what transpired during the congress hearing for Secretary Chu on the NIF?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Furloughs


Anonymous said...
How are the furloughs going to affect the retaining of the talent at LLNS?

Anonymous Anonymous said...
In todays world where there are no jobs and foreign nationals are coming into America to take your jobs my bet is no one will leave. They'll just take their 20% cut in pay, buy less, cut services and hang on until the next RIF.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

2012 evaluation plans posted

2012 evaluation plans posted and LLNL plan is 26 pages, LANL plan is 92!!

There is lots of reading in here, but the real meat in the meal is when the scores are known.

http://nnsa.energy.gov/sites/default/files/nnsa/09-12-inlinefiles/LANL%20FY12%20PEP.pdf

http://nnsa.energy.gov/sites/default/files/nnsa/09-12-inlinefiles/LLNL%20FY12%20PEP.pdf

Why is it so difficult at LANL?

Why is it so difficult at LANL?

This one is a zinger.

Fence building is not a difficult job at Y-12, but reportedly a most difficult job to get it right at LANL.

While it may be something that 'we' know how to design and construct, 'we' clearly is not LANL, according to the recent reports on TA-55.


"Putting these fences in is not a very difficult job or difficult project," he said. "But, all things considered . . . I mean, there's a PIDAS system around the Air Force One hangar. PIDAS systems are used widely. So this is something we actually know how to design and construct."

John Eschenberg, federal project director for UPF.

Albuquerque Journal Urges Consideration of NNSA Dismantlement

Weapons Complex Monitor

November 27, 2012

Albuquerque Journal Urges Consideration of NNSA Dismantlement

Noting a string of security lapses and project management blunders, the Albuquerque Journal urged a bipartisan commission proposed by a pair of Senators to strongly consider scrapping the National Nuclear Security Administration in an editorial published Nov. 25. “The agency’s track record is appalling,” the Journal wrote. “Not only is it a questionable duplication to the DOE, it has turned the nuclear weapons complex into a bureaucratic quagmire that defies attempts at efficiency. Its inability to move forward with essential projects is itself a threat to our nuclear security.” Sens. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) and Tom Udall (D-N.M.) are planning to offer an amendment to the Senate version of the Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Authorization Act that would establish an “advisory panel” to study governance options for the NNSA, which has been beset by problems on major projects like the Uranium Processing Facility and a security upgrade at Los Alamos National Laboratory, endured an embarrassing security breach at the Y-12 National Security Complex, and angered some Republicans by deferring work on the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement-Nuclear Facility at Los Alamos. The creation of the advisory panel would allow a compromise on controversial NNSA reform language that is in the House version of the Defense Authorization Act but has met resistance in the Senate. “Congress should approve the panel but demand a report with clear recommendations that either put this turkey on the chopping block or figure out how to make it earn its feed,” the Journal wrote.

The Journal’s suggestions appear to have at least some support. The newspaper quoted retiring Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) on the prospects of eliminating the NNSA, perhaps in favor of a move to the Pentagon or the creation of a standalone agency operating outside of the Department of Energy. “I’ve always had problems with the NNSA as another level of bureaucracy between the secretary of energy and the labs,” Bingaman said, according to the Journal. “It doesn’t give me any heartburn to think that we would revisit the decision to set up the NNSA. I think it would make some sense.”

Monday, November 26, 2012

Five Los Alamos Guards Dismissed

Weapons Complex Monitor
November 26

Five Los Alamos Guards Dismissed

Five Los Alamos National Laboratory security guards have been fired after allowing unauthorized visitors to operate a variety of weapons at the lab’s shooting range, laboratory Director Charlie McMillan confirmed in a message to lab employees shortly before Thanksgiving. The guards, employed by lab protective force subcontractor SOC, are believed to have accessed the shooting range in the lab’s Technical Area 72 earlier this month. An anonymous tip sparked an investigation by the laboratory and SOC, which led to the dismissal of the guards. “After a swift but preliminary inquiry, it was concluded that inappropriate behavior warranted the termination of five protective force firing range personnel,” the lab said in a statement. “The Laboratory will continue to determine involvement by others, including Laboratory personnel.”

The lab said that its review of the incident determined that there was no safety or security risk, but it said it “does not tolerate unauthorized use of our facilities or equipment. We hold ourselves and our contractors to the highest possible standards of behavior.” Lab spokesman Kevin Roark said the lab’s investigation of the incident is “ongoing and we will determine what further actions are needed, if any.”

LANS lawyered up over fence failure

LANS lawyered up over fence failure

There are some reports that claim a legal battle is brewing over the TA 55 security fence construction project. Always thought that LANS had some good in house lawyers so this must be a really strange deal if they have to bring in outside legal big guns. On the outside it doesn't look like much of a case, since the problems apparently had been widely known for over a year. It could also just be a ploy to divert attention away long enough for the board to find some new leaders.

Don't Throw MFE under the bus because of recent ICF failures

"Don't Throw MFE under the bus because of recent ICF failures"

This is a New York Times opinion piece that takes a blog post from PPPL director, 

Excerpts:


The fact that ignition in a large American experimental inertial confinement fusion facility did not occur as hoped by Sept. 30 has sadly raised questions about the scientific legitimacy of that pursuit. That the scientists did not meet their goal by that day probably has little bearing on that field’s ultimate success. Importantly, this non-event should not bear any relation to the fate of other vital work centering on an entirely different approach known as magnetic fusion. 



http://dotearth.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/19/in-defense-of-sustained-research-on-fusion/?ref=lawrencelivermorenationallaboratory

Unallowable Costs Incurred by Los Alamos National Laboratory

Questioned, Unresolved and Potentially Unallowable Costs Incurred by Los Alamos National Laboratory During Fiscal Year 2010


http://energy.gov/sites/prod/files/OAS-L-13-02.pdf


And the bad news just keeps on coming. Poor Charlie. Another IG report on LANL on his watch. How much more can he take?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

First casualty of the LANL problems

First casualty of the LANL problems 

The head of the local NNSA site office has been reassigned with no notice. Replacement to be named at a later date, probably when they can find anyone desperate enough to take the position. No one lasts long in this slot, it is just a meat grinder for the unlucky federal worker that draws the short straw.

Friday, November 23, 2012

LANL Security Force Shenanigans

LANL Security Force Shenanigans

Five members of the Los Alamos National Laboratory security force were terminated last week for the improper use of the live fire shooting range located at Technical Area 72, according to a statement released by the lab Wednesday.

The lab security force is called Securing Our Country or SOC.

The statement went on to say, “After a swift but preliminary inquiry, it was concluded that inappropriate behavior warranted the termination of five protective force firing range personnel. The laboratory will continue to determine involvement by others, including laboratory personnel.

“Although the inquiry concluded this was not a safety or security risk, the laboratory takes this kind of inappropriate behavior very seriously.

“The laboratory does not tolerate unauthorized use of our facilities or equipment. We hold ourselves and our contractors to the highest possible standards of behavior.”

Lab officials declined to discuss what the nature of the behavior was that resulted in the terminations.

Happy Thanksgiving and best wishes to all.

Happy Thanksgiving and best wishes to all.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

More LANL security headlines

More LANL security headlines

Charlie said not to worry when the TA 55 security fence had issues, because the guards were on the job and all was good. But wait, now it turns out that some of the guards were out taking pot shots at the rocks with their service hardware. This whole sorry mess looks worse than what led to the last contract transition.

Monday, November 19, 2012

BLOG suggestions

This is not really a suggestion for Scooby and his blog, but more for Google and the capabilities that it provides in the blogger tools.

It would be nice to be able to have a "sticky" functionality, which allows certain threads to "keep current" and either on the top of the blog, or on a special list, so that it persists.
Or a way of having new posts shown at the top of page, but are still categorized within a previously established thread.

Some topics particularly around talent retention, employee and retiree benefits, legal actions and NIF should have their own "stickies." Otherwise, the many of the threads become fragmented over time, and some threads that go out of sight (off the front page) go out of mind.

I can explore whether some of the other "templates" have something like that, but I thought it was just something to suggest and also bring to the attention of the other readers here as well. The thought was simply to make it easier to find and refer to older posts, and perhaps to encourage Scooby to explore such template options if he's inclined to do so

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Alameda County WARN listing only tallies 126 employees

Hmm, the Alameda County WARN listing only tallies 126 employees.

http://acwib.rkswebs.com


Delete
Comment moved here from the "suggested topics" post:


It doesn't matter who's right and who's wrong. 2013 is going to tell the communities an entirely worse story. Maybe that 126 in Alameda county and the balance of the people are from other counties. There are a lot of people that work at LLNL who don't live nearby.

LLNL files WARN Act 11/15/12

 LLNL files WARN Act as of 11/15/12

This means  205 people to be laid off:

http://www.edd.ca.gov/jobs_and_training/warn/eddwarncn12.pdf

Personnel policies changes

FAQs were released. What is your opinion?

https://docs.google.com/open?id=0ByP_XBAJjPAyX3RfSmZQdFYyQ1k

Friday, November 16, 2012

LANL culture faulted for "completely preventable" accident


The LANSCE radiation contamination report (all 100+ pages of it) is on line.

The executive summary draws a special focus to the culture of the facility and the "normative behavior when responding to authority". Ouch.

Without directly charging that there were individuals involved in the accident that were non-functional in English ("including proficiency in the English language"), it also strongly suggests that to have been the case. Double ouch.


http://www.hss.doe.gov/sesa/corporatesafety/aip/docs/accidents/typea/10-18-2012_lansce_federal_ai_report.pdf

Recent "High Risk" Events at LANL

Recent "High Risk" Events at LANL

All LANL employees are being formally "warned" in lab-wide briefings from the PADS, that as a result of the Tc-99 Exposure, NUSSUP debacle, and other Security issues that LANL is facing a potential Labwide "stop work". Any more details?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

More from POGO on LANL security

More from POGO on LANL security

http://pogoblog.typepad.com/pogo/2012/11/our-nuclear-insecurity-complex.htmlhttp://pogoblog.typepad.com/pogo/2012/11/our-nuclear-insecurity-complex.html

"The situation at Los Alamos is just as troubling. The National Nuclear Security Administration warned the contractor as early as 2010 that a new security project was in danger of being late and over budget. And now, two years later, the agency is demanding that the contractor fully disclose all of the project's problems and show that the nuclear materials stored at the New Mexico facility are safe.

Good idea. But how did the project get this far and so over budget when the agency with oversight power has an office right in Los Alamos that's supposed to oversee the contractor?"
November 14, 2012 4:40 PM
Delete
 

Lab revises its workforce management policies

On Newsline today:

"Lab revises its workforce management policies"

Here we go again!

Employment Conditions are a "right of property in CA"

Employment Conditions are a "right of property in CA"
When an employee is hired into a class of employees, and is in that class of employees for over a year, he inherits the conditions of employment as a "right of property." If the employer decides to unilaterally change the conditions surrounding this employement, such a remove seniority as a critera for employment priority during times of layoff, or unilaterally makes an employee at-will after a year or more of not being at-will, this is a breach of the "right of property." This has been argued quite successfully several times against the U of CA, and can and will be done against LLNS should it attempt to do this. Your thoughts?
November 13, 2012 4:00 PM
Delete
 
Note from scooby: the following is a comment made while the post was still in the suggestions section:

How does an employer change wages and working conditions, such as in a downturn or loss of funding? Is termination the only tool? What about reduction of work hours? What is the source of this "right"? It seems that an employer can change the work contract of future wages and working conditions at a future date and the employee has the choice of accepting contract or terminating. It seems that making a one-year work contract a permanent right infringes the property rights of the employer. Who would employ under these unfavorable conditions?

More info appreciated. Not my field.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Let's give Parney alternatives

There are a lot of people with negative comments on this blog. I think we need a discussion on what we expect out of our leaders and what/when did LLNL, LANL, and NNSA have great leaders. Who were they ? There are high levels position being posted. Let's give Parney alternatives, instead of same old same old. This is not working.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Say Goodbye to your Junk Food Rooms

 Say Goodbye to your Junk Food Rooms

Livermore Lab has signed a contract with with a new vendor to supply the vending machines at the lab.
Apparently this contract was let to a company that has a blind person on staff. A state law is on the books stating that vending machines on federal property operated by blind people shall have a non-compete status. A monopoly if you will.
So all of those entrepreneurial lab employees that have been running their own junk food supply depots (that are less expensive than the vending machines) must now fold their tents and blink out of existence.
So to add to our worries of NIF, TA55, Y12, retirement plans, sequestration and bloated management we now will have to pony up more for our snack fix. 

It's only a nick in the death of a 1000 cuts, but just like any other paper cut, it's annoying.

But on the bright side, perhaps we will bring in more healthy snacks from home for our own individual consumption.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Charlie on plutonium facility security fence project failures


Charlie on plutonium facility security fence project failures

From John Fleck's column in the ABQ Journal.


SUBJECT: Personnel Changes on NMSSUP

A few days ago, I shared with you some serious construction issues we have encountered on Phase II of the Nuclear Materials Safety and Security Project at TA-55, or NMSSUP.

Since then, a team of senior Laboratory managers, LANS board members, and managers from parent organizations have been working with the government to develop a solution to complete the project. I believe changes are necessary to ensure that this project is completed successfully, so I have some important updates to report to you today.

We have delivered a revised cost estimate for the project to NNSA. We believe the total project costs will rise from approximately $213 million to approximately $254 million. Because we are not authorized to make this type of change in funding, the project remains in suspended status until Congress or NNSA directs us otherwise.
With the assistance of the LANS board, I have asked three senior, experienced leaders to assume responsibility for the NMSSUP project.
Tyrone “Ty” Troutman will be the NMSSUP project manager. Ty is the construction functional manager for Bechtel Systems and Infrastructure. Although NMSSUP will remain a project of the Principal Associate Directorate for Capital Projects, Ty will report directly to me.
Jimmie L. Willman will manage procurement activities. Most recently, Jimmie was vice president, deputy program manager, and Business Services manager for Kwajalein Range Services, LLC.
Toby Wilson, currently managing Project Controls for LANL’s Environmental Programs directorate, will be assigned to NMSSUP in the same capacity.
The team is taking on this top-priority issue at my request. I ask that you support Ty, Jimmie, and Toby as they assemble the people, processes, and controls necessary to complete the project.

Let me again stress to you that nuclear material at TA-55 remains safe and protected, just as it has during NMSSUP construction. I am convinced that, once complete, NMSSUP will give TA-55 the modern, reliable, perimeter security system it needs.

Performance on this project has been unacceptable to me, the LANS Board of Governors, and our customer. This has damaged the Laboratory’s credibility. We must do better. As we learn more about the breakdowns that occurred, we will share lessons learned.

I expect you will read more about this project in the news media.

Please stay focused on safety, security and executing our missions for the nation.
November 9, 2012 11:57 AM
 Delete
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Charlie should be fired for this debacle. Not only for deceiving the public, but wasting their money. It is unfortunate that he will not only get away with this, but awarded his "full" bonus this year. Wow!
November 10, 2012 7:23 AM
 Delete
Anonymous Anonymous said...
"We have delivered a revised cost estimate for the project to NNSA. We believe the total project costs will rise from approximately $213 million to approximately $254 million." Charlie McMillan

Here we ago again CMMR, NMSSUP, ... another re-baseline on the cost estimate (and more LANS Managers) to solve the problem. Charlie, are you kidding us?

Math,LANL style

Math, LANL style

The NNSA report last week indicated that 25 million more was needed to complete the TA 55 security fence failure. In a typical LANL cost estimation expect to see this number double.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The cost of NIF


From Nature

Archive
Volume 491
Issue 7423
Editorial
Article


Ignition switch

The US National Ignition Facility has so far failed to generate fusion energy, but repurposing it as a tool to study nuclear weapons and basic science could be its saving grace.

On a breezy day in 2009, action star Arnold Schwarzenegger, then governor of California, took to the stage to dedicate the National Ignition Facility (NIF), the world’s most powerful laser. “I can see already my friends in Hollywood being very upset that their stuff that they show on the big screen is obsolete,” the governor quipped in front of the recently completed facility, which uses lasers to squeeze fusion energy from a tiny pellet of hydrogen fuel. “Fusion energy may be exactly what will power future generations on the globe,” he added.
Related stories

Laser lab shifts focus to warheads
Laser fusion nears crucial milestone
Superlaser fires a blank

More related stories

Fast-forward three years and the script is somewhat different: the lofty hopes of Schwarzenegger and other politicians who attended the ceremony that day seem less realistic. At the end of September, officials at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) in Livermore, California, where the NIF is based, announced that the facility would miss a crucial milestone to produce ignition — releasing as much energy from fusion as is supplied by the lasers. After an intense, six-year effort, the facility remains a factor of ten away from that goal. In the coming weeks, LLNL scientists are expected to lay out an alternative, much longer, path to ignition, while senior officials refocus the laser’s work (see page 170). For now, thanks in large part to the NIF’s role in nuclear-weapons science, politicians will allow the research programme to trundle on at a cost of US$280 million per year. But the great unfulfilled promise of the NIF should serve as a cautionary lesson for scientists who promote Hollywood solutions from their research.
November 7, 2012 6:56 PM
Delete
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Wow. The narrative here reflects almost identically the sentiments about the con job and PR oversell stated by many contributors over a long time in this blog. Almost as if the seeds for the article came from or resonated with these blog posts.
November 8, 2012 12:53 AM
Delete
Anonymous Anonymous said...
NIF = Con Job
Source = Nature Magazine
Moses and numerous LLNL managers and scientists = Con Artists
November 8, 2012 9:41 AM
Delete
Anonymous Anonymous said...
The Nature article was being too kind to NIF. The role of NIF in nuclear weapons science is marginal. It reflects a larger problem where many projects in the NNSA portfolio don't really support the stockpile, but just keep scientists employed as part of a white collar high-income social welfare program for a pool of scientists who spend all their time trying to justify their existence in ways other than demonstrating value and contribution to their customer.

On top of that, our public funds were being spent to con not only the public, but also people like Friedman and Schwarzenegger and numerous other public figures. They were manipulated into contributing to a fantasy narrative. Frankly, I'm surprised at how this was a huge pie in the face for Friedman, it's not easy to swallow the fact of having been manipulated and victimized like that particularly for people act in a role of shedding more light and finding clarity in complex situations. But we really need to focus more on the victimizer and not the victim. Due diligence may have provided Friedman with red flag indicators to stay clear of Moses and his co-conspirators.

This blog is proving to be very valuable because people here are quick to call a spade "a spade" and to point out harsh truths and allegations that the media (like Nature magazine) tends to soften and candy-coat. While the "facts" can be somewhat fuzzy in some of the blog contributions, many others have seeded legitimate questions and doubts, and have pointed out the trail of crumbs that a journalist or investigator can use to find their way towards the truth. Good job everyone.
November 8, 2012 10:10 AM
Delete
Anonymous Anonymous said...
LLNL had been the center of a controversy regarding deuterium equation of state in which their results were repudiated by the scientific community. As far as I know, there was no corrigendums issues regarding the shoddy analysis, raising doubts about the ability by some to perform work in this field or to employ adequate internal technical reviews.

And so it is very important to keep an eye on who is in the role of technical lead for some of the research areas being proposed as part of the shift towards the focus on warheads (e.g., NNSA programmatic mission). For example, some of these people in leadership roles have no business leading experimental efforts and analyses, and may be unflatteringly characterized as "con artists."
November 8, 2012 10:46 AM
Delete
Anonymous Anonymous said...
If I were to read carefully between the lines for both the editorial and the article pieces from Nature, I would have to guess that the most rational next step involves restructuring the organization in which NIF becomes part of the WCI directorate and overseen by their management. This would make sense, since to make good on their promise, you would rely on their expertise to drive and assess the value of the experiments in support of weapons science. I can only speculate about what this means for Ed Moses if indeed such a move takes place. He certainly does not have the technical background for taking over the equivalent level management role in WCI. Being assigned a more subordinate role would probably not work since he is not that kind of person who reports to or feels he should be accountable to others.

Keeping the status quo management structure in which NIF is a standalone directorate will not work. Staffing decisions for who provides what supporting technical role needs to rest in the WCI program management. The reprioritization by NNSA affirms a commitment to funding programs in support of its core programmatic mission needs. This, in turn, reaffirms WCI's role as the core mission program for its NNSA customer, and not as a matrix organization in support of NIF's fusion energy / ignition program.

The reprioritization is a move in the right direction, though not without peril. The high costs associated with operating NIF will not go away, and many needed cuts may be more painful to endure when self-inflicted (as opposed to being imposed by another organization). On top of that, there are other problems that do not simply go away with a re-organization. The current pervasive Edisonian approach towards solving problems is not just a sign of desperation but rather a pervasive way of "doing science in our unique way." Trial and error approaches to figuring out how to solve the alpha heating milestone failure problem using expensive NIF shots at over 1M per shot demonstrate a level of irresponsibility in how one goes about using tax-payer funded resources.

But we'll have to wait and see. LLNL is an unpredictable beast. There is a big battle of egos within a lab where everyone else is the enemy. NNSA is the enemy of LLNL. Sandia and Los Alamos are the enemy. ITER is the enemy. If that is still the case, you should not be surprised when LLNL makes baffling and mind-boggling decisions that appear, to most rational minded people, to go against their own long term interest. LLNL management making insulting comments disparaging Cook's technical abilities and background for example... is not only incorrect but does not help itself at all. Going to Forrestal only to piss off administrators and get escorted out... demonstrates how one can set new lows in eroding trust and goodwill.

There is one certainty however from the insanity that is pervasive in parts of the lab... that the lab is such a rich source of material for this blog.

NIF has to find its feet all over again

from Nature | Editorial

Archive
Volume 491
Issue 7423

But during the past six years, expectations around the NIF have grown well beyond that credible campaign. In many ways, the lab itself is to blame for the unrealism. Lab officials gave tours to prominent politicians and journalists in which they promised a lot more than just ignition. The NIF, they claimed, was the first step on the road to potentially unlimited fusion energy. In support of their dream, LLNL scientists developed a prototype for an electricity-producing reactor that they hoped would gain financing once ignition was achieved.

But problems were mounting even as the lab eagerly promised clean, cheap electricity. Outside reviewers noted that the hydrogen fuel was not being compressed properly. The computer codes used to predict the facility’s performance were themselves operating badly. Privately, most people familiar with the programme had known for more than a year that the NIF could not reach ignition in the time allowed. Yet the LLNL stubbornly insisted that it might yet meet its goal. Enthusiasm gave way to saving face, as the leadership struggled to hold the line and keep up the appearance that all was going well.

The size and cost of the NIF make it an easy target for criticism, but those working there are hardly alone in their hubris. From stem cells to materials science, researchers around the globe make daily headlines with bold claims about what can be done in their fields. Politicians and the public, eager for solutions to the world’s many problems, embrace their words. The process is often healthy: scientists insert caveats, and citizens are given a vague sense that things may not work out. But striking the balance between enthusiasm and conservatism can be difficult. The NIF reminds us that the line between optimism and overselling is a thin one that can too easily be crossed.

Pride comes before a fall. Now the NIF has to find its feet all over again.

NIF cannot just be open-ended

from Nature | News

Nature isn’t the only one pushing back — the NIF’s funders in Congress also want answers. “We’re disappointed,” says one congressional staff member, who spoke to Nature only on condition on anonymity. Critics say that the lab’s enthusiastic promotion of the idea that laser fusion could generate electrical power led many in Congress to believe that they were funding an energy project, when in fact laser fusion is decades from producing electricity. “The lab overemphasized and oversold the energy aspect of the NIF, at the expense of the very important and successful work it was doing in stockpile stewardship and basic science,” says a senior scientist familiar with the NIF programme.

The NIF’s current director Ed Moses bridles at accusations that ignition was over­emphasized. “I don’t think it was oversold or undersold. It just was.” Moses insists that “remarkable progress” has been made in the past 16 months, since the NIF began working with hydrogen-pellet targets. “The goal was to do the initial exploration of the ignition conditions and see where we were, which is what we’ve done.”

Keeping momentum in the ignition campaign may be crucial, because many in Congress still believe in the energy-research mission being pushed by the lab. Lawmakers have mandated that a new plan for reaching ignition be delivered to them by the end of the month. Politicians are ready to accept that it may take longer than originally stated, but they need to see evidence that it is on course, the congressional staff member says: “It can’t just be an open-ended: ‘Just give us money, we promise we will do good science’.” And if the NIF fails to reach its ignition goal in a few more years? “Then we’ll have to evaluate whether it’s worth continuing to fund the facility.”

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

NNSA report on LANL radiation leak?

NNSA report on LANL radiation leak?

Since the NNSA report on the multiple failures of the TA 55 security fence was made public, does anyone know when the report on the multiple failures of the LANSCE radiation safety controls will be released?

Who is next?

Anonymously contributed:

Who is next?

Episode 1is now complete and Obama is back again.
Stay tuned for episode 2, when we learn the fate of Chu.

How will it turn out?

Monday, November 5, 2012

NNSA defends LANL analysis

Anonymoulsy contributed:

NNSA defends LANL analysis

This is a complex letter to DNFSB on PF 4. The bottom line is that this is still a work in progress.

http://www.dnfsb.gov/board-activities/letters/doe-response-board-june-18-2012-letter-which-issued-reporting-requirement-c

Specialized Planning Needs Contribute to B-61 Expense Boost: Pentagon

Anonymoulsy contributed:


Global Security Newswire
Nov 5, 2012

Specialized Planning Needs Contribute to B-61 Expense Boost: Pentagon

Completing planned updates to the U.S. stockpile of B-61 nuclear gravity bombs would require the Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico to carry out significantly more engineering activities than the National Nuclear Security Administration has acknowledged, an oversight responsible in large part for the agency's incorrectly low projection of the effort's expense, according to U.S. Defense Department findings reported by the Albuquerque Journal on Sunday.

Staffing demands for B-61 modernization activities would probably necessitate more than the 600 specialists anticipated by the Sandia laboratory, according to an abstract of findings by the Defense Department's Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office. The National Nuclear Security Administration -- a semiautonomous branch of the Energy Department -- has not described how it would provide additional specialists to update the bomb's schematics and assemble the altered weapon with new parts, the CAPE office indicated.

A 2010 NNSA estimate placed at $3.9 billion the expense of extending the lives of the decades-old tactical armaments, thought by nongovernmental analysts to number around 400. The agency's projection reached $6.8 billion by July, and the Defense Department later suggested the price tag would rise to $10.4 billion and the program time line would increase by 36 months.

Plans to update and reproduce almost every interior B-61 part are a large, unnecessary contributor to the initiative's projected expense, according to detractors of the effort.

One-time Sandia laboratory vice president Bob Peurifoy said there are no indications of any necessity for steps now being taken to rebuild the 29 key elements that almost constitute the weapon in its entirety.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Shocking news report - NNSA budgets not credible!

Anonymously contributed:

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Shocking news report - NNSA budgets not credible!

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Nothing in this article is a surprise, but having it all put together in one story is pretty damning. Four major construction projects (LANL, Y-12, LANL again, and LLNL), each over budget, behind schedule, and failing to meet performance specs -- it has been a busy six months for NNSA. Not to mention that there was still time to have the Y-12 nun breach and the LANL radiation exposures.


------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"The B61′s cost and schedule problems compound increasing difficulties the agency faces as a result of repeated instances of similar problems on other major nuclear weapons projects.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

♦ In February, the agency was forced to indefinitely defer work on a new plutonium laboratory after its estimated cost ballooned from $800 million in 2007 to an estimated $4 billion to $6 billion, too much for the agency’s budget.

♦ Last month, agency officials acknowledged they had to redesign a similar multi-billion dollar building they are trying to build to do nuclear weapons work in Tennessee after realizing the current design is too small to hold the equipment needed.

♦ Also last month, the agency acknowledged that a new $213 million security system at Los Alamos National Laboratory’s most sensitive nuclear facility did not work, forcing the lab to spend significant extra money to add the necessary guards to keep a major stockpile of nuclear weapons-usable plutonium safe while the agency figures out how to finish the project.

♦ In September, the agency acknowledged that the $5 billion National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, built for $5 billion over more than a decade to support nuclear weapons research, had failed to achieve its goals in simulating the fusion blast of a weapon."

http://www.abqjournal.com/main/2012/11/04/news/billions-more-needed-to-refurbish-bombs.html

Sequestration explained

Anonymously contributed:
 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B9eIrcyRIQxyX0VLTWVPQmxBcmM

Friday, November 2, 2012

Will things change?

Anonymously conributed:
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So with only a few days left until the election does anyone want to speculate how things might change or stay the same at the labs. Please keep it civil and on track. I will start off and say that if Obama stays than things at the labs will stay about the same as they have. If Romney gets elected I have no idea.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Prove you are not a robot!

To Scooby:

Your "prove you're not a robot" stuff has really gotten ridiculous. I know for a fact that you can turn it off, so enlighten us as to what problem it is solving. When I come up against a particularly bad case of visual stupidity, I simply enter random keystrokes until I get one I can actually read. Nice way to discourage posting in general and in particular to piss off people who really would like to post. Not very bright. Just another modern inconvenience that people will come to accept, such as staring into a tiny screen to see something that your high-resolution laptop screen would render absolutely stunning, or trying to understand a static-ey. unstable phone conversation that your land line could render clear and static-free, without anyone having to shout.
October 31, 2012 7:46 PM
Delete
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Not this again...
November 1, 2012 1:05 AM
Delete
Anonymous Anonymous said...
Keep hitting the cycle button until you get one that you are fairly certain you will enter correctly
November 1, 2012 1:07 AM
Delete
Anonymous Anonymous said...
" so enlighten us as to what problem it is solving. "

To keep drunks and idiots from posting.
November 1, 2012 8:21 AM
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
What is it about anonymous communication (including text messaging, etc.) that turns physicists into rude, disrespectful people (the exception being me) with 'binary opinions?
November 1, 2012 3:21 PM
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Anonymous Anonymous said...
" turns physicists "

I would say most posts come from techs and some engineers. It seems like a number are ex-military. Just a guess on my part so who knows. If you look up the makeup of LLNL, LANL, or Sandia there is probably not that many physicists compared to everyone else.

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