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The Nevada Test Site was established in 1951 as the United States on-continent proving ground for nuclear weapons testing. Today, the NTS remains the nation's sole capability to conduct nuclear testing and provides a test range for a wide variety of other dynamic and high hazard experiments. In the absence of nuclear testing, the NTS has continued to provide unique and vital capabilities for assuring the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the nuclear stockpile through participation in the Stockpile Stewardship Program. Prominent examples of our work in the Stockpile Stewardship Program include subcritical experiments conducted at the NTS, diagnostics development and operational support of experiments at the National Weapons Laboratories, and construction of new experimental facilities at the NTS for testing aging weapons materials.
The NTS is committed to maintaining underground nuclear test readiness. NTS annual assessments and national studies have confirmed our ability to return to nuclear testing within the Presidential Decision Directive mandated 2-3 year timeframe. However, these assessments indicate a continued decline in critical personnel skills, facilities, infrastructure and equipment as well as the lack of an established authorization basis for nuclear testing within today's regulatory and procedural requirements. We are supporting the NNSA in a current study to determine the cost to achieve and maintain 18-month test readiness, should national policy require it. Capital investment at the NTS has declined considerably over the past 15 years, leading to deterioration of critical facilities and infrastructure. The NTS also has a significant amount of legacy compliance issues resulting from 40 years of nuclear testing that are borne by the Stockpile Stewardship Program. The recently enacted Facilities and Infrastructure Recapitalization Program will begin to revitalize sitewide infrastructure, but continued attention will be needed to maintain the NTS as an effective asset for conducting high hazard national security programs.
The Nevada Test Site was established in 1951 as the United States on-continent proving ground for nuclear weapons testing. Today, the NTS remains the United States sole capability to conduct nuclear testing and other major experiments that involve special nuclear materials. The NTS provides the NNSA a test range for a wide variety of other dynamic and high hazard experiments that require a controlled remote location and skilled technical workforce. In the absence of nuclear testing, the NTS has continued to provide unique and vital capabilities for assuring the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the nuclear stockpile through participation in the Stockpile Stewardship Program.
Efficacy of the Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship Program
Since July 1997, seventeen large-scale subcritical experiments have been successfully conducted at the NTS. Subcritical experiments use chemical high explosives to generate high pressures that are applied to nuclear materials. These experiments result in no nuclear explosion or self-sustaining nuclear reaction. These complex hydrodynamic experiments provide vital information on the behavior and performance of aging nuclear materials. The most recent of these tests, Oboe-9, was conducted last week. Two additional subcritical experiments are scheduled later this year. NTS and National Weapons Laboratory (Los Alamos, Livermore, and Sandia) personnel skilled in experiment design, test bed engineering and construction, diagnostics development and fielding, and experiment controls have achieved excellent data recovery on all subcritical experiments. Series of subcritical experiments have been developed to optimize experiment productivity and reuse facilities and equipment. These optimized experiments allow quicker collection and analysis of data that is used to understand and predict nuclear weapons behavior. Current Stockpile Stewardship Program plans describe a continuing need for subcritical experiments as part of future weapons certification activities and therefore NTS critical facilities and specialized personnel.
NTS capability to acquire high quality performance data for weapons materials is also being enhanced by the addition of the Joint Actinide Shock Physics Experiment Research (JASPER) facility and the Atlas experiment facility. JASPER is a high velocity gas gun designed for shock physics experiments of nuclear and surrogate materials. JASPER will provide equation-of-state data to better understand phase change relationships of weapons materials under varying pressure and temperature. The JASPER facility construction was recently completed on schedule and within budget. The project has received NNSA Defense Programs Excellence and DOE Project Management Awards.
Atlas is a pulsed power experimental facility that will test the hydrodynamic implosion behavior of non-nuclear and surrogate nuclear materials. Atlas will provide
material constitutive property data for computer modeling used in weapons certifcation. The facility to house the Atlas machine is currently under construction at the NTS. The experimental facility is scheduled to be operational at the NTS near the end of FY 2003.
In addition, the NTS is a major contributor to the Above Ground Experiment (AGEX) programs conducted at the National Weapons Laboratories. NTS scientists and engineers provide diagnostics and data analysis for research aspects of the Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test (DARHT) facility and the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center (LANSCE) Proton Radiography program. Similarly, NTS personnel provide diagnostics and experiment fielding capability to Livermore and Sandia for high energy density physics and radiation transport experiments. NTS personnel based at Livermore are also preparing calibrations facilities for the National Ignition Facility. NTS personnel provide cost effective, technically integrated diagnostics support deployed across the nuclear weapons complex. This diagnostics work is very important for maintaining the overall NTS expertise to collect important scientific information from underground nuclear tests if they are needed.
In the absence of nuclear testing, subcritical experiments and AGEX programs provide best available data relating to baseline material performance consistent with aging materials and conditions observed in the stockpile. These experiments also provide critical data used in developing and validating computational models of weapons behavior in the Advanced Simulation and Computing Campaign. As in the past for underground nuclear tests, the NTS provides the Stockpile Stewardship Program with a test range for hazardous experiments, skilled personnel in experiment fielding and execution, and a mission focused approach for conducting National security programs.
NTS Stockpile Stewardship Future Activities
Accelerated Pit Certification-Experiments conducted at the NTS are an integral part of the Pit Certification and Manufacturing Program. NTS will support Los Alamos requirements for testing of a certifiable manufactured pit. All NTS FY2001 and FY2002 milestones have been met or are on track to meet the planned experimental schedule.
On-site Laboratory Diagnostic Support-During nuclear testing, NTS personnel were stationed at the National Weapons Laboratories to facilitate diagnostics development and experiment planning. Today, NTS personnel are working on-site at the National Weapons Laboratories to provide diagnostics support and experiment fielding for a variety of Stockpile Stewardship experiments. For example, NTS personnel based at Livermore will become an integral part of target area operations and diagnostic development at the National Ignition Facility. These weapons related research activities will help maintain similar skills needed for underground nuclear test readiness.
and report the NTS status of UGT readiness. NTS annual assessments and national studies (e.g. FY1999 & FY2000 OSD Program Analysis & Evaluation) have confirmed our ability to return to nuclear testing within the Presidential Decision Directive mandated 2-3 year timeframe. However, these assessments do indicate a continued decline in critical personnel skills, facilities, infrastructure and equipment as well as the lack of an established authorization basis for UGTs within today's regulatory and procedural requirements. Soon we will have to address the training of a new generation of personnel to support potential future nuclear testing.
Historically, the timeframe necessary to develop and execute a UGT was 18-24 months. Improvements in schedule were typically accomplished by switching priorities of tests already in the pipeline. Bechtel Nevada is supporting the NNSA in a current study to determine the cost to achieve and maintain 18-month test readiness for postulated requirements of nuclear certification testing of a stockpile weapons system. Although this "enhanced test readiness" report is not yet completed, we expect achieving an 18-month readiness posture would require significant investment in field test neutron generators, radiochemical detectors, nuclear diagnostics and calibration, nuclear explosive safety studies and other authorization basis activities.
If national policy for 18-month UGT readiness were enacted, the NTS would seek the resources needed and implement the recommendations of the "enhanced test readiness" report to close the gap between 36 and 18 months. In addition, the NTS must continue to maximize aspects of the Stockpile Stewardship Program to maintain readiness. Examples include subcritical experiments; modernized timing, firing and control systems; and high-speed data recording systems for National Ignition Facility experiments.
Capacity of Defense Complex Infrastructure to Maintain the Stockpile
Capital investment in facilities and infrastructure at the NTS has been steadily declining for the last 15 years. Since the cessation of underground nuclear testing, funding for site wide infrastructure has been very limited. The average facility age based on useable square footage is approximately 35 years. Similarly, the age and condition of critical electrical and water systems call for immediate attention. Modernization of telecommunications, roadways, and utilities that support national security programs have been consistently deferred. The recently created Facilities and Infrastructure Recapitalization Program (FIRP) will allow the NTS to compete for funds and begin to correct immediate problems with a failing infrastructure and plan for NTS future needs. Particular focus of this program will be given to utilities and site-wide infrastructure to provide the best crosscutting benefits to all national security efforts on site. An added benefit of the FIRP is the acceleration of NTS facility disposal. During fiscal year 2002, the NTS will excess and demolish over 190,000 square feet of un-useable facilities.
Defense critical facilities (e.g. Device Assembly Facility, Ula Complex, Control Point Complex, North Las Vegas Diagnostics Facility) defined in the Stockpile Stewardship Program are victims of general aging and increasing backlog of deferred maintenance. The resulting need for resources to adequately maintain critical facilities is amplified by the addition of new facilities that are coming on-line (e.g. JASPER, Atlas).
The NTS also has a significant amount of legacy compliance issues resulting from 40 years of nuclear testing that are not covered in the Environmental Restoration/ Waste Management program. These issues include those that are regulatory required, and those that represent "good faith efforts" to mitigate environmental problems. Of particular concern at the NTS are (1) housekeeping sites covered in the Federal Facility Agreement and Consent Order (FFACO) with Nevada that require remediation and containment, (2) borehole closure driven by Nevada Water Pollution Control statute, and (3) radioactive contamination driven by Price Anderson Act Amendment. The cost of these compliance activities is substantial and must currently be borne within the Stockpile Stewardship Program.
The average age of existing equipment at the NTS (e.g. drill rigs, material handling equipment, fabrication equipment, heavy fleet) is nearly 20 years. Technological advances have rendered most of this equipment out of date. Suppliers no longer support a large percentage of it which means that maintenance and repairs require work-arounds leading to inefficient operations. Modern equipment safety features are absent. Thus, aging NTS equipment adds considerable risk to safety, operability and our overall cost efficiency.
While the NNSA is championing a progressive three-pronged approach to improve Defense Critical Facilities through facility revitalization & upgrade, deactivation & decommissioning of surplus facilities, and corporate management of non-nuclear fa
cilities, the strategy must be continued and fully supported in the Stockpile Stewardship FYNSP budget to be effective and affect the future health of the program Concluding Remarks
In closing, I would like to mention that in addition to the important work we do in Stockpile Stewardship, the NTS conducts several other missions vital to nationa security. These include the NNSA incident response mission for nuclear emergencies, support to the Defense Threat Reduction Agency to develop technologies for dealing with hardened and deeply buried targets, work in combating terrorism which includes consequence management training for first responders to weapons of mass destruction incidents, and the initiative to develop a National Center for Combating Terrorism.
I would like to thank the Committee for this opportunity to inform you about the important work being performed by the men and women at the Nevada Test Site. We have a long and proud history of supporting the Nation and look forward to continuing our work. I will be happy to take any questions you may have.
STATEMENT OF JOHN T. MITCHELL
PRESIDENT AND GENERAL MANAGER, BWXT Y-12
SUBCOMMITTEE ON MILITARY PROCUREMENT
JUNE 12, 2002
Mr. Chairman and Committee Members:
Thank you for the opportunity to update you on Defense Programs activities at the Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge and to provide you my views on our near-term and long-term ability to meet the challenge of the Stockpile Management Program. We have made considerable progress at Y-12 over the past year, but still face significant challenges in meeting the expectations of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NÑSA) over the long-term.
The past year at Y-12 has been one of renewal and change. Many longstanding challenges have been met head-on and significant progress has been made. New management systems and processes have started to take effect and increased effectiveness and control are clearly visible. Our emphasis on Safety and Security as the cornerstones of our operations have resulted in satisfactorily completing both the Integrated Safety Management Phase II review and the security review performed by the NNSA/DOE Office of Assessments this fiscal year. Both in our response to the events of September 11th and the measurement of our safety performance, it is clear that the groundwork laid in 2001 has supported improved execution of these key responsibilities.
Y-12 can and will meet the mission requirements to support the stockpile. In preparing for the increasing workload of the next several years, we have had to plan to reactivate many processes that had not been utilized for over two decades. The safety and security standards that we now utilize require some modification to these processes. The planning for this work is well underway and support the detailed needs and schedules for the next several years. The major issues at Y-12 are centered around our long-term capability to upgrade our infrastructure, continue to reactivate the full range of needed capability, and to do so in a cost-effective manner. Aided by the funding identified through the Facilities and Infrastructure Initiative, we have commenced a long-term plan to consolidate the active functions of Y12 into a reduced footprint through a balanced program. Our approach includes reducing the occupied building inventory, removing unoccupied buildings from the inventory, reusing major facilities where possible and the selective investment in recapitalization where long-term efficiencies result.
We have re-energized the planning and execution of an aggressive technology infusion program at Y-12 to both optimize support for the upcoming defined workload and to assure long-term, safe, secure and efficient modern capabilities to meet the nations security needs. We have started the renewal of the dedicated Y-12 workforce through major increases in college-level recruiting, cooperative university pro
grams and emphasis on increasing the technical and managerial competence level of our workforce. Throughout these focused efforts, we have placed great value on detailed program planning and a project management culture for execution effectiveness. Site-wide integration in resource planning and prioritization has assured a balance in investments and a clear definition of needs versus wants.
BWXT Y-12 has been implementing its strategy for infrastructure improvement— intense planning focused on scientific and manufacturing needs, definition of equipment, facilities and skills, and alignment of technology development. Our goal is to create a consolidated manufacturing footprint, with a central hub of secure operations surrounded by the developmental, technical and other support functions needed to execute the mission.
Y-12 has begun the process of removing non-essential facilities. This removal will make room for beneficial upgrades to the plant and reduce cost for surveillance, analysis, maintenance and security. The Facilities and Infrastructure (F&I) Initiative has been pivotal to our demolition efforts, as well as providing critical support for much-needed maintenance and facility repairs.
Y-12 has also begun the first major steps in deploying key investments in the future of Y-12. We are beginning the Preliminary Design for High Enriched Uranium Materials Facility, the next major step in improving the storage of the nation's inventory of highly enriched uranium. We also have received approval to begin Preliminary Design of the Purification Prototype Facility, the first element of the Special Materials Capability Program. In addition, Prototype development of a new Beryllium Manufacturing capability is underway and we are ready to begin Conceptual Design for a Production Utilities Project.
Following these projects, we need to move forward on plans to consolidate depleted uranium operations, upgrade enriched uranium operations, relocate Quality Evaluation operations, and upgrade Safeguards & Security systems by reducing the protected area of the plant. There will also be continued emphasis on use of F&I to make critical facility repairs and to continue the Infrastructure Reduction activities to consolidate and disposition excess facilities.
Achieving and sustaining infrastructure improvements within the NNSA funding forecasts continues to be a challenge. The cost to operate aging facilities increases as demands for maintenance and capital replacement expand. Sustainable support will be necessary for Y-12 to meet mission requirements while resolving problems caused by years of deterioration at Y-12. The trade-off between operations, maintenance and capital investments must continue to recognize the long-term interests of Y-12.
Y-12 has begun two important initiatives over the past year that will improve the way technology is introduced in the plant and its missions. The introduction of new technologies must be managed from a different perspective today than was the historic norm for the Production Complex. The stockpile stewardship program may well require a higher level of technology for refurbishment than was required for the original build. When a flaw is identified, the resolution of that flaw will be reverseengineered from test data. The tolerances for that new part can be much more exacting than was originally required. In addition, today's technology introduction may be based on the ability to achieve substantial efficiencies in mission execution. These efficiencies may stem from the introduction of technologies that were not previously available or concepts that were previously discarded based on then-valid mission requirements that are no longer appropriate (e.g., stockpile size).
The first initiative, Technology Roadmapping, has the goal of modernizing the processes, equipment and supporting systems (e.g., computing and information management systems). The roadmap would identify the strategies and direction of the technology program. These strategies would be screened against the time to bring them to the shop floor, cradle-to-grave cost estimate, potential for success and return on investment.
In a second initiative, BWXT Y-12 has begun a technology partnership with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The technical needs of Y-12 are heavily weighted toward ORNL's R&D agenda (i.e., materials science, modeling/computational science, and instrumentation and control). In these key areas, ORNL provides access to state-of-the-art facilities, leverage for Y-12's development funds and a pathway to the broader technical community—private industry, the science laboratories and academia.
The introduction of technology into Y-12 will be critical to the future economical execution of our mission. Again, the trade-off between operations, technology intro