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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)


Originally founded and established as Project Y of the Manhattan Project, the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) occupies approximately 36 square miles of DOE land situated on the Pajarito plateau in the Jemez mountains of northern New Mexico. The closest population centers are the cities of Los Alamos and White Rock. The closest large metropolitan center is Santa Fe, 35 miles away. It includes 47 technical areas, 42 of which are actively in use, and over 2,100 individual facilities covering some eight to nine million square feet worth $5.9 billion.

Facilities within the technical areas include a reactor (which is shut down); criticality experiment areas; particle, neutron and ion accelerators; sealed source and x-ray radiography facilities; research laboratories; depleted uranium and explosive test facilities; a plutonium recovery, metal production, and metal fabrication; and radiological-contaminated environmental areas in various stages of remediation; and decontamination and decommissioning projects.

As a DOE national security research institute, the LANL's primary responsibility is ensuring the safety, security, and reliability of the nuclear stockpile. This mission has expanded from the primary task of designing nuclear weapons to include non-nuclear defense programs and a broad array of non-defense programs. In addition to the Lab's core national security mission, its conducts work in bioscience, chemistry, computer science, earth and environmental sciences, materials science, and physics disciplines. Past missions of LANL have included development of nuclear test devices and other research projects. LANL is now focusing on nuclear weapon stockpile stewardship and nonproliferation.

LANL is one of the largest multidisciplinary, multi-program laboratories in the world. It is the largest institution and employer in northern New Mexico. As of 2008, the Laboratory had over 9,000 employees in addition to approximately 650 contractor personnel. As of 2004, it also had approximately 2,600 university students and guest affiliates and approximately 3,000 subcontractor personnel. As of 2008, its annual budget is approximately $2.2 billion, up from $2 billion in 2004 and $1.1 billion in Fiscal Year 1997. LANL receives most of its annual budget from the Department of Energy. The balance of the budget is comprised of Department of Defense, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and private sector research and development.

The National Nuclear Security Administration's Los Alamos Site Office, formerly the Los Alamos Area Office (LAAO), a part of the National Nuclear Security Administration Service Center, formerly the Albuquerque Operations Office (AL), oversees contractor operations and administers site contracts. Although the University of California had managed and operated LANL since its inception in 1943 for DOE and its predecessors, on December 21, 2005, NNSA awarded Contract No. DE-AC52-06NA25396 to Los Alamos National Security, LLC, to manage and operate LANL. Los Alamos National Security, LLC includes Bechtel National, the University of California, the Babcock & Wilcox Company, and Washington Group International. As of 2006, Protection Technology Los Alamos (PTLA) was the Laboratory's protective force subcontractor. In 2001, LANL awarded two subcontract agreements BWX Technologies and Westinghouse Government Services Company for support services related to the operation of Los Alamos' major nuclear facilities. As a DOE prime contractor, the County of Los Alamos provides 24-hour fire protection service to LANL. The Los Alamos Fire Department (LAFD) operates five strategically located county fire stations and one training facility, and staffs each fire station with three operating shifts. Fire protection services include: firefighting, emergency preparedness support, emergency medical service, light rescue, and hazardous materials response. As of 2008, LAFD operated 6 fire stations with 141 budgeted positions, 123 uniformed and 11 civilian.

LANL is part of Complex Transformation, a NNSA program for a smaller, safer, more secure, and less expansive nuclear weapons complex to replace the standing complex that is believed to be too old with too many facilities. LANL was selected as NNSA's preferred alternative site for plutonium research, development and manufacturing, nuclear weapons design and engineering, and supercomputing. LANL will become the Center of Excellence for Nuclear Design and Engineering and the Center of Excellence for Plutonium. LANL will continue plutonium pit production R&D with TA-55 including a Chemistry & Metallurgy Research Replacement (CMRR) nuclear facility and material research with the Matter-Radiation Interaction in Extremes facility. SNM would be consolidated at two site, only of which would have CAT I/II levels. Its nuclear operations would be halved and its building footprint reduced by 20%. Plutonium pit production would be increased from just a few a year to as many as 80 as part of the restructuring proposal.

LANL is pursuing a new experimental signature facility (MaRIE) to study matter-radiation interactions in extreme environments).

Fissile Material: 2.7 metric tons of plutonium and 61.0 kg of plutonium waste as of February 6, 1996

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Page last modified: 24-07-2011 03:42:12 ZULU