Department of Defense partners see firsthand how NNSA is working to revitalize the nation’s plutonium pit mission
WASHINGTON – The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) hosted members of the Nuclear Weapons Council (NWC) at Savannah River Site (SRS) in Aiken, South Carolina and Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) in Los Alamos, New Mexico August 14 and 15, respectively.
Among the guests touring NNSA facilities and receiving briefings were Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment and NWC Chair Ellen Lord and Commander of U.S. Strategic Command General John E. Hyten.
SRS and LANL are pivotal to the revitalization of the United States’ plutonium pit production capability and the fulfillment of the Department of Defense requirement to produce no fewer than 80 plutonium pits per year by 2030, as outlined in the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review and certified by the NWC in May 2018.
“Our two-pronged approach at Savannah River and Los Alamos will ensure a more responsive and flexible infrastructure to maintain the nuclear deterrent for future threats,” said Lisa E. Gordon-Hagerty, DOE Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator.
“I am confident that the recommended alternative of repurposing the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility at SRS while maintaining Los Alamos as the Nation's Plutonium Center of Excellence for Research and Development is the best path forward,” said Lord.
“It was great to have the Nuclear Weapons Council at Savannah River and Los Alamos,” said General Hyten. “Thanks to Undersecretary Lord and Administrator Gordon-Hagerty for making this happen. Great work being done in the tritium enterprise. Looking at the future of plutonium, pits in particular— no doubt that Los Alamos will lead the way and we must leverage their knowledge and expertise, but we also have to focus in the very near term on ramping up the plutonium operation at Savannah River so the Nuclear Security Enterprise can be more responsive and resilient in order to meet our future military requirements.”
The NWC serves as the focal point of interagency activities to maintain the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, providing oversight of refurbishment programs, and coordinating budget matters between the Department of Defense and NNSA.
In addition to plutonium pit production, the NWC was briefed on other topics of interest such as weapons program history, global security, and the tritium mission.