Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Technical Areas

Sandia has five Technical Areas and several test locations.

Technical Area I (TA-1) contains the site's administrative, site support, technical support, component development, research, energy programs, microelectronics, defense programs, and exploratory systems. Operations at TA-1 have focused on three primary activities: the design, research, and development of weapons systems; the production of weapon system components; and energy research programs. TA-1 facilities include a Cockroft-Walton electron accelerator, a Van de Graaff generator, heavy ion/proton accelerators, and X-ray machines such as a fexitron.

Technical Area II (TA-2) is a 45-acre facility south of TA-1, established in 1948 for casting and assembling chemical high-explosive main charges for nuclear weapons, and later for the production-scale assembly of nuclear weapons. Assembly activities continued from 1952 to 1957. Buildings 901, 904, and 907 were used in assembly operations. In 1960, TA-2 was converted into an explosive devices research and development area, which continued until 1995. TA-2 now in the process of being cleaned up.

Technical Area III (TA-3), 7 miles south of TA-2, is used for testing and simulation of a variety of natural and induced environments for nuclear weapons and other non-weapons programs and includes two rocket sled tracks, two centrifuges, and a radiant heat facility. Other facilities in TA-3 include a paper destructor, the Melting and Solidification Laboratory, the radioactive and low-level waste landfills, and the MWL that operated from 1959 to 1988.

Technical Area IV (TA-4) is a remote research location for pulsed-power and high-energy experiments. It consists of several inertial-confinement fusion research and pulsed-power research facilities, including the High Energy Radiation Megavolt Electron Source (HERMES-III), the Z Facility, the Short Pulsed High Intensity Nanosecond X-Radiator (SPHINX) Facility, and the Saturn Accelerator. These include x-ray, gamma-ray, particle beam fusion, and accelerators, all of which are used to simulate nuclear weapon effects and to conduct research on inertial-confinement fusion and weapon physics.

Technical Area V (TA-5) is the remote research area where experimental and engineering nuclear reactors, hot cells, electron beam accelerators, and gamma irradiation facilities are located. It contains the Annular Core Research Reactor (ACRR) and the SPR (in two reactor facilities), an intense Gamma Irradiation Facility (GIF), and the Hot Cell Facility (HCF). The ACRR was idled in 2003.

The Manzano Storage Area contains structures authorized to store nuclear material and waste. The classified nuclear and radioactive materials (fissile and non-fissile) are stored on a long-term basis.

The Coyote Test Field (or Coyote Canyon Test Complex), created in the 1950s, is located southeast of TA-3, contains testing operations that require large land areas and unusual terrain, separated by large buffer zones. It includes remote test areas such as Thunder Range in the canyons on the west side of the Manzanita Mountains. It also encompasses the Solar Tower Facility, the Lurance Canyon Burn Site, and the Aerial Cable Site. The location is equipped with explosively driven shock tubes, aerial cable sites for high-speed ground target impact tests, a test site where large quantities of cased conventional explosives can be detonated, numerous small explosive sites, igloos for storing explosives, two drop towers, a centrifuge complex, a 5,000-foot sled track, burn site, and a laser strain seismometer. Some of these facilities are seldom used.

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