From the Los Alamos Monitor
By The Staff
Saturday, August 24, 2013 at 4:20 pm (Updated: August 24, 7:26 pm)
Alamos National Laboratory director Charlie McMillan reportedly sent a
letter to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in July warning of dire
consequences for the plutonium mission if sufficient funding is not
According to a letter obtained by the Nuclear Weapons
and Materials Monitor, McMillan cited the lack of action on a $120
million reprogramming request from the NNSA to begin work on an
alternative plutonium strategy and the funding cuts included in both
versions of the FY 2014 Energy and Water Appropriations bills.
has not signed off on the reprogramming request, which came about when
the decision was made to defer the Chemistry and Metallurgy Research
Replacement Nuclear Facility.
There have been reports the lab is
considering an alternative strategy based on a modular approach to
maintain the nation’s plutonium capabilities.
“Los Alamos will
continue to do everything possible to keep our people and programs
intact should these funding reductions come to pass, but I am very
worried that these FY 14 Pu program reductions will place the mission is
on an unrecoverable trajectory,” McMillan reportedly wrote in the July 1
letter. “With the 2019 closure of CMR and significant underfunding of
Pu infrastructure, we will simply not have the capability to produce
much more than the current pit output.”
The trade publication
reports that parts of the reprogramming request would go to studying
that approach while other money would allow the lab to begin purchasing
materials and equipment for existing facilities that will play a larger
role in the plutonium strategy, which is expected to enable the lab to
produce up to 30 pits by 2021.
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