OAK RIDGE, Tenn. -- Dismantlement of W69 canned subassemblies (CSAs) has been completed at the Y-12 National Security Complex. The W69 was the warhead for the short-range attack missile (SRAM) and was retired from the U.S. nuclear stockpile in 1992. The last W69 weapon was dismantled in 1999. The Y-12 site originally assembled the W69 CSA in the 1970s and began disassembly in 2012.
“These weapons components have come full circle, considering Y-12 has been responsible for the assembly and disassembly of every secondary in the nation’s nuclear stockpile,” manager of the National Nuclear Security Administration’s Production Office Geoff Beausoleil said. “With this successful dismantlement, we now can turn our focus to other systems to further modernize the stockpile.”
“The employees of Consolidated Nuclear Security are proud to have an integral role in accomplishing the NNSA’s nuclear weapon mission,” Consolidated Nuclear Security President and CEO Morgan Smith said. “The work done at Y-12 on the W69 is yet another example of the important role we play in supporting our nation and making the world a safer place.”
Taking apart nuclear weapons is a complex process that involves almost all of the sites within the nuclear security enterprise. Prior to starting the dismantlement process, NNSA’s design laboratories identify and mitigate hazards that may arise for a particular weapon type or component based on unique knowledge gained during the original design process.
Once retired weapons are returned to the Pantex Plant, high explosives are removed from the plutonium pit constituting a weapon dismantlement. Plutonium pits from dismantled weapons are placed in highly secure storage at Pantex, while uranium parts including CSAs are moved to Y-12 and other non-nuclear components are sent to the Savannah River Site and the National Security Campus at Kansas City for final disposition. Y-12 continues the dismantlement process, taking apart CSAs and recovering needed materials.
Dismantlement not only prevents the potential misuse of nuclear material but also allows recycling of the material for national defense uses such as weapon refurbishment (the Life Extension Program) and fuel for the U.S. Navy’s nuclear-powered fleet.
The Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas, and Y-12 are operated by Consolidated Nuclear Security, LLC (CNS), under a single contract for NNSA, with a focus on the absolute priorities of safety, security, quality, mission delivery and cost efficiency. CNS member companies include Bechtel National, Inc., Lockheed Martin, ATK Launch Services, and SOC, with Booz Allen Hamilton as a teaming subcontractor.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, and effectiveness of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without explosive nuclear testing; works to reduce the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad. NNSA homepage: http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/index.htm
Members of the 96th Munitions Maintenance Squadron use a weapons loader to move an inert AGM-69A Short Range Attack Missile (SRAM) from underneath a B-1B bomber aircraft in 1987.