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Saturday, February 11, 2012

CMRR-NF: Delay Makes Sense

Anonymously contributed:
Seems like in the past few weeks there has been a growing level of talk in Congress (both Rep and Dem sides) that CMRR should not be built. So is there a really a good counter argument for CMRR, and if it is killed or significantly delayed what does this mean for de-inventory of SuperBlock at LLNL?

--------------------
CMRR-NF: Delay Makes Sense
by Lisbeth Gronlund
by Stephen Young
February 10, 2012 - Union of Concerned Scientist

On Monday, when the Obama administration releases its FY13 budget request, it will announce a delay in the construction of a proposed new facility at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL)—the so-called Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement-Nuclear Facility (CMRR-NF). As we discuss in a new UCS working paper [www.ucsusa.org/assets/documents/nwgs/cmrr-nuclear-facility-delay.pdf ] ,we think a delay is good.

There are three possible reasons to build the CMRR-NF:

1. To allow an increase in pit production capacity. Pits are produced at LANL’s Plutonium Facility-4 (PF-4), which currently can produce 10 to 20 pits annually. But that rate could be increased to 50 annually without building the CMRR-NF. Building the CMRR-NF would allow PF-4 to up production to 50 to 80 pits a year by moving some of the work now done in PF-4 into the CMRR-NF.

2. To provide replacement laboratory space for activities now undertaken elsewhere.

3. To provide additional storage space for plutonium and other nuclear materials.

Our paper shows that the only plausible need to increase pit production capacity above the current level of 10-20 annually is to support a life extension program (LEP) for the W78 and W88 warheads—if they use new pits. However, even in this case, an annual production capacity of 40-45 pits would be adequate, and this could be accomplished without building CMRR-NF. If the United States reduced its arsenal below 3,500 weapons over the next few decades, an even lower annual production capacity would be required.

In any event, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) hasn’t yet made a decision to use new pits for the W78 and W88 LEPs, and the studies and engineering phase for the W78 will not be complete until FY21. Thus, there is as yet no identified need for an increase in pit production capacity beyond even the 10 to 20 pits per year. (There would also be concerns about such a “mix and match” approach to maintaining the stockpile. Such an ambitious LEP will face not only steep technical challenges but deep skepticism from Congress.)

The CMRR-NF would provide additional laboratory and storage space for handling plutonium and other radioactive materials, but there are other, likely less expensive, approaches. Delaying construction will allow these other options to be assessed. Given today’s budget climate, that makes sense.

It’s important to keep in mind that plans for the CMRR-NF were made long before the New START agreement was negotiated and Obama’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review was completed. And, following a lengthy Pentagon-led review of options, the President will soon make decisions about the size, structure and mission of U.S. nuclear forces, which will likely result in a smaller U.S. arsenal. Thus, delaying construction of the CMRR-NF will also provide time for the administration to take these nuclear weapons policy changes into account.

52 comments:

Anonymous said...

The CMRR will never be built. It's has simply become too expensive. Even the curent multi-billion dollar figures being used by LANL are likely too low.

America now requires zero-level risk, "Six Sigma" type safety and there is almost no way to do this with the CMRR facility.

We have met the enemy and he is us. It's another example of the risk averse "wear shoes that grip" mentality that has dragged the US down.

Anonymous said...

Delaying CMMR is effectively killing it. There will never be enough money to pay for this fat hog. Sooeeee!!!

Anonymous said...

Why did LANS create a big, new Directorate for capital (large) construction projects this last year when no such projects will be built? They staffed this new Directorate with a highly paid VP from Bechtel plus plenty of well paid Bechtel construction managers.

If staffing cuts need to be made at LANL, this new Directorate would be the logical place to start. Of course, I doubt LANS is ruled by logic.

Anonymous said...

Why did LANS create a big, new Directorate for capital (large) construction projects this last year when no such projects will be built?

February 11, 2012 8:11 PM

Recall that Anastasio created this Directorate days before he retired. I can't help but believe Anastasio "benefited" from this decision" for some damn reason. The question is, what favor or benefit did he get? These days it's all about doing favors or lining pockets with money at LLNS/LANS. There are no decisions based on technical merits. Just risk aversion and monetary benefits for Senior Management.

Anonymous said...

The bigger the footings that CMRR has, the more Bectel profits. The larger the pile of paper, the more Bechtel profits.

Anonymous said...

February 11, 2012 8:22 PM has it close.

Mike knew that CMRR was going down and a fall guy was needed. Couldn't place the blame where it belonged, square on PAD WP, because that would get in the way of the sham search that was in progress to elevate the Chosen One to be Director. Create a new PAD and set it up to take the fall. Hopefully no one will remember that the decision on CMRR was made after PAD WP failed on many attempts to explain the project. Clever, eh?

Anonymous said...

CMRR is not a new issue. I remember working for Vic Reis in 1997 at DOE when it was still being battled in Congress, House, DOE, DoD, and Los Alamos. We have "thrown so many blankets (i.e. scope and requirements) on this horse it can't walk anymore (i.e. cost)". There's a new book just waiting to be written "CMMR: How Not to Run a Project".

Anonymous said...

The CCNS's and Greg Mello's of the world knew exactly how to manipulate the DOE and NNSA by driving the Government to design every nuclear facility so it could withstand an asteroid impact and continue to operate.

They knew that they didn't have to kill the projects outright, they knew they just had to drive the requirements up to the point no one wanted to pay to build them to their absurd zero-risk requirements. And reasonable people let them.

I'm glad WWII isn't being fought now. We'd lose.

Anonymous said...

CCNS and Mello don't believe in the war that IS being fought now. And since our spineless government hasn't formally declared it, nothing can be done about those traitors, as it would have been during WWII.

Anonymous said...

The CCNS's and Greg Mello's of the world knew exactly how to manipulate the DOE and NNSA by driving the Government to design every nuclear facility so it could withstand an asteroid impact and continue to operate.

February 12, 2012 11:34 AM

That wasn't the CCN or the Los Alamos Study Group that drove CMRR requirements, it was the Defense Nuclear Facilities Board (DNFSB) and our own LANL Program Director for Seismic Engineering. We have met the enemy and they are us! In particular, the LANL Program Director for Seismic Engineering has been adjusting the CMRR seismic requirements, year in and year our.

Anonymous said...

CMRR-LANL's last effort to soak the tax-payers out of Billions of $$$$before the money runs out, ooppps, the money is out!!!

Just wait till the 2013 budget comes to life.

Anonymous said...

From the Albuquerque Journal onine version:

White House announces deep cut to Los Alamos plutonium project
By John Fleck / Journal Staff Writer on Mon, Feb 13, 2012
[Print-Friendly Version]
[Email This Story] view comments
POSTED AT: 9:51 am

The White House made official this mornings its widely anticipated decision (see Sunday’s story) to ask Congress to deeply cut the funding request for the over budget, behind schedule plutonium complex proposed for Los Alamos National Laboratory. The previous long term spending plan called for $300 million per year this year and next. Congress, led by House Republicans, already rolled that back to $200 million this year, and the administration now says it will only request $35 million for Fiscal Year 2013. (pdf explaining the decision here, see page 34 of the pdf, 26 of the document itself):

Anonymous said...

But, but, but...
Say it ain't so

Be interesting to see how it gets spun by Charlie, who may need to find someway to blame Congress.

Anonymous said...

Under O'bama's poor presidential leadership - he and his senior staff act like an unseasoned and weak junior senator protecting only his own supporters interests - nothing in DC is getting resolved, even those matters that could be solved by the compromise of effective leaders.

We need to throw out the current ineffective bums, to air DC out, but more important, we need to pass a campaign finance amendment to align the self interest of our leaders with the long-term interest of the country.

This will happen before many billions are spent to marginally increase pit manufacturing safety and capacity.

Only if China/US or Persian/US relations become dangerously nuclear and we see that the potential enemy has better nuclear capacity (What's in those 15,000 miles of Chinese bunkers?) will we feel threatened enough to improve capacity. Otherwise, it is too contentious an issue for a divided Congress lacking presidential leadership to solve.

What Syd Drell, George Schultz and Sam Nunn can solve in an afternoon after dessert and before cigars, will take a poorly lead nation generations to work through.

Anonymous said...

O'bama runs the country like a Cubs fan. Expect a loser and make excuses for next year

Anonymous said...

Obamas budget :CMMR is DOA, This multi-billion dollar project is now officially on HOLD for the next 5 years. Which is code for No More CMMR.

Anonymous said...

700 people to be RIFed on this decision. The thing that get's me is the LANL Lab Leadership relented and ran from CMRR with their tails between their legs. They "threw the towel in" by stating they actually can accomplish the CMRR mission with existing facilities. What a bunch of wussies!

Anonymous said...

"700 people to be RIFed on this decision. The thing that get's me is the LANL Lab Leadership relented and ran from CMRR with their tails between their legs. They "threw the towel in" by stating they actually can accomplish the CMRR mission with existing facilities. What a bunch of wussies!

February 13, 2012 5:11 PM"

It is not as simple as you say. NNSA knows there has to be cuts and everyone made their pitches. Tennessee came out on top. We have to make do with what we have right now and do our best. The CMRR can be revisited in the future and we will have a better understanding of what to do. As for the RIFs we live in a new world now and this is part of reality. It may be painful but we can work through this. At this point there is no need to panic since no knows the rest of the budget or what is to come, but as always work hard, keep your skills up and have a plan B.

Anonymous said...

How could LANL have continued to support the CMRR? This gig was DOA in 2007. Rarely have so few, conned so many for such a long long time?

Anonymous said...

The Obama administration - thanks to the Tea Party wing of the Republican party - had a choice of funding a $5 Billion line item construction facility at LANL (CMRR) or Y12 (UPF)... and Y12 won.

Anonymous said...

The Obama administration - thanks to the Tea Party wing of the Republican party - had a choice of funding a $5 Billion line item construction facility at LANL (CMRR) or Y12 (UPF)... and Y12 won.

February 13, 2012 6:54 PM

Yeah right. If the liberals (excuse me, "progressives") had their way, both facilities would have been defunded and both Y-12 and LANL been shut down!

Anonymous said...

The Obama administration - thanks to the Tea Party wing of the Republican party - had a choice of funding a $5 Billion line item construction facility at LANL (CMRR) or Y12 (UPF)... and Y12 won.

February 13, 2012 6:54 PM

There's no one left protecting LANL's interests in Washington and the current LANS Senior Management is quite frankly, "weak". Where's "Uncle Pete" when you need him?

Anonymous said...

There's no one else to blame but the former and current Los Alamos Senior Management (i.e. Hecker, Nanos, Anastasio, and McMillan) that did not provide the leadership, strength, or courage to make CMRR a reality.

Anonymous said...

"700 people to be RIFed on this decision. The thing that get's me is the LANL Lab Leadership relented and ran from CMRR with their tails between their legs. They "threw the towel in" by stating they actually can accomplish the CMRR mission with existing facilities. What a bunch of wussies!

February 13, 2012 5:11 PM"

It is not as simple as you say.

February 13, 2012 5:48 PM

You don't know Bret Knapp do you? He's grinding his axe and preparing the gallows in front of the NSSB at this very moment!

Anonymous said...

LANS Management stated to Lab workers they went to battle, fighting hand-to-hand combat in the trenches with the "enemy" to save CMRR. In reality, they were having martinis in their suits with Secretary Chu telling him they have "nuclear qualified tin sheds" behind the existing CMR "to do the job". LANS "sold-out" plain and simple!

Anonymous said...

Y-12 is rubbing this decision in our (Labs) faces and are celebrating. Dave Beck (who was chased off by Knapp and Leasure back to Y-12) is claiming victory. Beck has strong connections to Washington having been the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Military Applications (DASMA). It looks like Knapp may have "screwed" with the wrong Cowboy.

Hopefully, this is the start of the downfall of His Majesty Knapp of Livermore. Knapp will have his day "in court" sooner or later for his hateful behavior.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to rain on the hate fest but CMRR loss was not on Knapp. It is all Macmillan.

Anonymous said...

McMillan delegated all his authority to Knapp (Weapons) and Marquez (Operations and LISC) who are running LANL NOT McMillan. McMillan is in the Bahamas with Pattiz on top of "Vixen".

Anonymous said...

I'm really disappointed in McMillan. He just "rolled- over and played-dead" while NNSA/DOE blasted Los Alamos with this decision. To think of all the money, planning, and work that have been accomplished and now wasted to make CMRR a reality and fail now, is sad.

This will be a McMillan's hallmark failure that will rest on his shoulders for the rest of his Directorship. This is a brutal day for Los Alamos National Laboratory and LANS. This signals our final day as the "flagship" National Laboratory!

Anonymous said...

Munger pegged it. One year ago CMRR was the top priority in a tight budget and now UPF gets funded while CMRR gets canned. What happened? For five years Mara and Anastasio had worked to get it all set up for CMRR as key to the ‘uplift’ and the politicians were on board, led by Kyl’s fight for new START votes. McMillan fumbled, plain and simple. The field had been cleared for him and he had been given the ball to score. Y-12 saw the weakness at LANL and filled in the gap. Proves the old proverb that you can lead a dumb horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.

Being Laboratory Director is hard work and more about leadership to deliver than about million dollar mansions, first class international trips, courtesy visits to political offices, and nightly press conferences.

What will be the broader consequences of this loss? Will UC now look for new leadership at LANL? The loss of CMRR will have impact across LANL due to the overhead structure. The loss will have sustained impact since now others see LANL as a weak target.

Worst part of all is that it could have been avoided by a Director with a modicum of DC savvy.

Anonymous said...

"In reality, they were having martinis in their suits with Secretary Chu...

February 13, 2012 7:57 PM"

If you know what of you speak, POGO might want to have a chat with you. Do you mean to imply that a lab director is involved in fundraising for a political campaign?

See the following for an example of what has followed Solydrana

http://www.politico.com/blogs/burns-haberman/2012/02/meet-the-super-cabinet-members-114359.html

Anonymous said...

February 14, 2012 7:04 AM

No.

Anonymous said...

"Worst part of all is that it could have been avoided by a Director with a modicum of DC savvy."

5:24 AM Nailed it. Solid.

Anonymous said...

"This will be a McMillan's hallmark failure that will rest on his shoulders for the rest of his Directorship. This is a brutal day for Los Alamos National Laboratory and LANS. This signals our final day as the "flagship" National Laboratory!

February 14, 2012 4:38 AM"

Why would McMillan care, he gets his money and bonus and in four years is out of the hell hole called Los Alamos and back to his real home in California.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes as we look at the larger picture, LANL has finally been turned into a 2nd rate lab. Sen. Domenici was the money man, with-out him and true leadership at LANL, we will become the "other lab". I saw this coming many years ago.

Anonymous said...

Rarely have so few, conned so many for such a long long time?

February 13, 2012 5:56 PM


Uh, NO! How quickly we forget about LANCE.

Anonymous said...

Ah yes as we look at the larger picture, LANL has finally been turned into a 2nd rate lab. Sen. Domenici was the money man, with-out him and true leadership at LANL, we will become the "other lab". I saw this coming many years ago.

February 14, 2012 8:52 AM

LANL became a 2nd rate Lab the day LLNL took over.

Anonymous said...

LANL became a 2nd rate Lab the day LLNL took over.

February 14, 2012 6:25 PM

Let's not forget. The LANS controlling interest, UC, gave control of LANL to LLNL people because it was under intense pressure from DOE/NNSA to "fix" LANL's (supposed) "security problems" at a time when LLNL seemed to have many fewer of them. Never mind that for decades before, LLNL's "security problems" were seen as much worse by DOE. Hence Anastasio, Mara, and Mcmillan from LLNL, and a host of security "experts" from non-research (Bechtel-run) DOE plants (Sowa, Noon, etc.) who had absolutely no experience in a research and development environment and proceeded immediately to make matters much worse. The Quintana case followed and the downward spiral of LANS/LANL began, with Bechtel assuming more and more control as UC appeared less and less capable of effective management. It wasn't ever (until the Bechtel stranglehold took effect) about the loss of science capability.

Anonymous said...

* MONDAY: Obama administration make the surprise announcement in their budget report that they have decided to kill off LANL's CMRR effort. Obama had promised the Senate to fund CMRR in return for the Senate's support in passing START. Apparently, he lied to them. Almost all CMRR funding will be eliminated by the end of this fiscal year! Lab layoffs sure to result.

* TUESDAY: Obama administration make the surprise announcement that the president is interested in unilateral disarmament. He wishes to bring the size of the US nuclear arsenal down from the agreed START count of 1500 to only 300 US warheads and he wants the reduction to happen within the period of only a few years. No mention is made by the president about negotiating similar reductions with other nations. It has been reported that this absurdly low weapon count will give the US fewer nukes than even China!


Get the picture? Our nuclear capability is being killed off by Obama. Drastic reductions in the number of warheads plus less ability to test what's left with the elimination of facilities like CMRR.

This is insane! Our president is moving to the anti-US positions held by America's radical leftists.

Anonymous said...

February 16, 2012 12:10 AM Chill a bit... here's a more accurate picture of what's going on from Global Security Newswire.

---
Obama to Consider Deep Reductions to Launch-Ready Nuclear Force
Feb. 15, 2012

The U.S. Defense Department has drafted three proposals for significantly reducing how many strategic nuclear warheads the nation maintains on its launch-ready missiles and aircraft, laying the groundwork for a decisive move by President Obama to curb U.S. reliance on nuclear weapons in the thick of this year's electoral race, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.

The proposals would respectively lower the number of nuclear warheads the United States maintains on delivery vehicles to ranges between 1,000 and 1,100, 700 and 800, or 300 and 400, a legislative staff member and a former federal employee said. An arms control treaty with Russia now commits the United States by 2018 to reduce deployment of strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550.

President Obama has yet to formally receive the proposals, National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor said on Tuesday...

Pentagon spokesman George Little refused to address the proposed deployment curbs, which remain confidential, but he acknowledged the president had asked the department to prepare a number of "alternative approaches" to executing the nuclear arsenal's function in supporting the nation's security.

The nation's quantity of launch-ready warheads has exceeded 300 since 1950, near the start of a Cold War buildup that went above 12,000 weapons in the years immediately prior to the Soviet Union's collapse. The United States was maintaining fewer than 5,000 warheads on delivery systems as of 2003.

An effort by Washington to pursue such curbs as part of a potential new arms control deal with Moscow is considered most probable, though unilateral U.S. nuclear force curbs are possible, according to AP.

"The administration is absolutely correct to look at deep cuts like this. The United States does not rely on nuclear weapons as a central part of our security," said Stephen Young, a senior expert with the Union of Concerned Scientists, which advocates for arms control.

The administration in 2011 began examining potential U.S. nuclear force reductions beyond those required by the New START pact, which entered into force last February. New START requires each government by 2018 to reduce deployment of strategic nuclear warheads to 1,550, down from a cap of 2,200 mandated by next year under an older treaty. It also limits the number of fielded strategic warhead delivery platforms to 700, with an additional 100 systems permitted in reserve.

Obama is set in the near future to receive the reduction plans, and his resulting decisions on the proposals would inform the preparation of a new strategic nuclear war plan by the Defense Department.

The U.S. nuclear force is "poorly suited" for problems involving "unfriendly regimes seeking nuclear weapons," according to a 2-year-old department-led study of U.S. nuclear forces and capabilities. The document was apparently referring to Iran, according to AP.

It was uncertain how the Pentagon arrived at the specific deployment reduction proposals, AP reported.

A 300-warhead arsenal might meet U.S. defense needs in the presence of a multilateral arms control regime with robust verification mechanisms; further U.S. conventional forces with a worldwide range; and "hypothetically excellent" U.S. antimissile measures, RAND specialist Paul Davis wrote in a study published last October, as the government was beginning its nuclear force assessment.

Three Air Force experts in a 2010 Strategic Studies Quarterly assessment said a fielded 311-warhead nuclear arsenal would meet U.S. requirements, regardless of whether Russia made separate reductions...

Anonymous said...

Get the picture? Our nuclear capability is being killed off by Obama. Drastic reductions in the number of warheads plus less ability to test what's left with the elimination of facilities like CMRR.

This is insane! Our president is moving to the anti-US positions held by America's radical leftists.

February 16, 2012 12:10 AM

You might not be aware but Brett Knapp is leading the way in killing our nuclear weapon capability from within the nuclear weapon program itself.

Anonymous said...

Having had a huge success killing off the new CMRR project, Greg Mello and LASG will now whisper sweet words to their good friend, Obama, that the old CMR building is a dangerous 60 year old place and needs to be shut down ASAP.

They'll weigh down future work at the old CMR with a number of environmental requests and other legal maneuvers to finally kill off our US nuclear weapons capabilities. Just watch and see.

Anonymous said...

LANS is on a campaign to ensure LASG (Mello) get's all the blame for losing CMRR. I know for a fact Bret Kniss and crew informed NNSA we didn't need CMRR afterall. That's all Chu wanted to hear!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone believe that the CMMR NF was just too expensive during the a time of debt? And maybe too large of an idea from it's conception.

LANL is not the major player with-in the nuclear weapons complex that it had been.

Anonymous said...

LANL is not the major player with-in the nuclear weapons complex that it had been.

February 18, 2012 8:59 AM

Too true. Since Pete's retirement, LANL has no knowledgeable, competent, or even really interested proponents in its Congressional delegation. Democrats all, they couldn't care less. Let's see what happens when LANL starts laying off hundreds of Hispanics from the Espanola valley starting tomorrow.

Anonymous said...

Let's see what happens when LANL starts laying off hundreds of Hispanics from the Espanola valley starting tomorrow.

February 18, 2012 9:42 PM

Be aware that LANS has been laying off (i.e firing) contractors for months at an increasing rate. The vast majority are Hispanics.

Anonymous said...

Let's see what happens when LANL starts laying off hundreds of Hispanics from the Espanola valley starting tomorrow.

February 18, 2012 9:42 PM

Thank God I'm a Hispanic that lives in Santa Fe. McMillan will state on Tuesday, the "uppity" Hispanics are protected, like Rich Marquez.

Anonymous said...

LANL is not the major player with-in the nuclear weapons complex that it had been.

February 18, 2012 8:59 AM


Yep, when it comes to interactions in Washington LLNL (Parney) is running the table on LANL (Charlie).

Anonymous said...

LANL has notified several hundred contractors of pending budget issues. Most are already out the door, about 700 FTE;s will be needed to balance the books for the next FY.

Anonymous said...

This will be one of the largest issues to affect LANL since Sen Domenici left office. LANL will not be a major player, like it had been in the past. Sen Domenici was a super=hero when it came to funding, all of that is now history. LANL will continue to be down-sized with no clout from our members in Congress.

Anonymous said...

Jeff Bingamin has already announced he won't seek a second term and is a lame duck, so what does he care?

Tom Udall is pretty much clueless and worthless as a voice in the Senate. He's a lightweight.

And then there is Congressman Ben Lujan who used his daddy's name to get his job and thinks that having LANL become an "environmental research park" is the way to go.

With wimpy politicians like these leading the New Mexico delegation in Washington DC, is it any wonder that LANL is now in deep, deep trouble?

Anonymous said...

Seems like Sen Bingaman was surprised by the CMRR decision, I wonder if he's even involved with LANL issues any more. His vision of LANL is completely different than was Sen Domenici's. With out Sen Domenici LANL has very few supporters in Cogress with clout.

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