WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration reached an important milestone on the Los Alamos Plutonium Pit Production Project (LAP4), approving Critical Decision-2/3 – Approve Performance Baseline/Approve Start of Construction – for the 30 Base Equipment Installation subproject. 

LAP4 is an integral part of NNSA’s plan to re-establish the nation’s capability to produce plutonium pits for its nuclear weapons modernization program, a capability lost when the Rocky Flats Plant ceased production in 1989. LAP4 will create infrastructure at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) that will allow production of 30 war reserve plutonium pits per year. In addition to the LANL capability, NNSA is repurposing the former Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, South Carolina to produce at least 50 pits per year, in a project called the Savannah River Plutonium Processing Facility. This two-site strategy will provide the nation with a robust and resilient capability to produce at least 80 war reserve plutonium pits annually, supporting statutory and U.S. Department of Defense requirements. 

LAP4 is divided into five subprojects. The NNSA Administrator and Deputy Secretary of Energy have approved the start of construction for the subproject called 30 Base Equipment Installation. A formal letter of approval from the Secretary of Energy will be submitted to Congress in the near future. This subproject includes the design, fabrication, and installation of gloveboxes and other highly specialized equipment to provide the basic capacity to build 30 pits per year. Completion of the subproject is expected no later than August 2030, with total cost not to exceed $1.864 billion. A subproject called “30 Reliable” will add equipment to improve the reliability of producing 30 pits per year at LANL. The project team will continue to identify approaches that will shorten the schedule while allowing the work to proceed as safely as possible.

“We appreciate the hard work that has led to this critical decision, which is an important milestone on our path to restoring and modernizing the nation’s capability to produce plutonium pits,” said Dr. Marvin Adams, Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs. “Our planned path allows us to mature and verify the processes for producing qualified pits while installing equipment needed for production at the required rate. Throughout its execution, the 30 Base project will steadily increase the U.S. capability for manufacturing qualified pits.”