Senate FY 2014 Department of Energy Funding Bill: National Nuclear Security Administration

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Publication date: 
10 July 2013
Number: 
114

The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved its version of the FY 2014 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill.   A committee report accompanying S. 1245 includes important language regarding funding and policy direction for the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA).  Selections from the extensive language in this report on pages 99 – 114 regarding the NNSA follow.  Funding tables are found on pages 123-125 of the report.  See FYI #113 for comparable House report language.  Note that the FY 2013 budget figures do not include a mandatory reduction of approximately 8 percent for sequestration. 

National Nuclear Security Administration:

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory reduction) is $11,501.6 million
The FY 2014 request is $11,652.5 million, an increase of $150.9 million or 1.3 percent
The House Appropriations Committee recommendation is $11,266.0 million, a decrease of $235.6 million or 2.1 percent
The Senate Appropriations Committee recommendation is $11,758.5 million, an increase of $256.9 million or 2.2 percent

The committee report states:

“The Committee recommends $11,758,469,000, an increase of $106,000,000 above the request, for the National Nuclear Security Administration. The Committee restores funding to critical nonproliferation activities that reduce the threat of nuclear terrorism -- one of the Nation’s most important national security priorities. The Committee supports accelerated efforts to secure and permanently eliminate remaining stockpiles of nuclear and radiological materials overseas and in the United States that can be used for nuclear or radiological weapons. The Committee also continues to support efforts to modernize the nuclear weapons stockpile to sustain a safe, secure, and effective nuclear arsenal without testing.  However, the Committee is concerned that NNSA will not be able to execute multiple, highly complex life extension projects and construction projects concurrently under ambitious schedules. NNSA’s inability to complete projects on time and on budget adds significant risk to its modernization plans.”

Later in this introductory section:

Academic Programs.  The Committee recognizes that the foundation of NNSA’s ability to successfully execute its unique mission of ensuring a strong nuclear deterrent and preventing nuclear proliferation is the highly trained workforce at the national laboratories and production plants. The Committee acknowledges that developing the next generation of a specialized workforce is also NNSA’s responsibility. The Committee encourages NNSA to continue to support investments in academic programs in fields of research important to its unique mission, especially in focus areas that receive little funding from other government agencies or private Entities.”

Within NNSA:

Weapons Activities:

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory reduction) is $7,577.3 million
The FY 2014 request is $7,868.4 million, an increase of $291.1 million or 3.8 percent
The House Appropriations Committee recommendation is $7,675.0 million, an increase of $97.7 million or 1.3 percent
The Senate Appropriations Committee recommendation is $7,868.4 million, an increase of $291.1 million or 3.8 percent

The committee report states:

Plutonium Capability.  With the deferral of a Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement Nuclear Facility, the Committee supports efforts to maintain pit manufacturing capabilities using existing facilities. NNSA assessments have concluded that existing infrastructure is sufficient to meet pit requirements for the stockpile until fiscal year 2030 and the Committee continues to provide sufficient funding to modify existing buildings to meet those pit requirements.”

There is extensive language regarding Campaigns under Weapons Activities:

CAMPAIGNS

“The Committee recommends $1,847,365,000, an increase of $136,400,000 above the request, for NNSA Campaigns. The Committee supports efforts to improve models of weapon performance using experimental data, underground test data, and advanced computer simulations to better understand the effects of aging and provide solutions for potential stockpile issues. However, the Committee is concerned about the increased scope of work and planned experiments to develop improved intrinsic safety and security options.  The Committee believes planned experiments related to new safety and security options should be tied to military requirements and changes in risk assessments or weapon vulnerabilities that would justify exploring new surety features. Experiments related to new surety features should also be weighed against extrinsic features already available or being developed that may be less costly and more effective to prevent unauthorized access. The Committee also encourages NNSA to use the campaigns to reduce the complexity and costs of life extension programs.”

Science Campaign.  The Committee recommends $374,723,000, a decrease of $23,179,000 below the request, for the Science Campaign.  Within these funds, $34,000,000 shall be used at Sandia’s Z facility to continue critical plutonium and other physics experiments to support the stockpile stewardship program. The Committee encourages NNSA to prioritize fundamental and focused hydrodynamic and subcritical experiments over large-scale, integral experiments, as recommended by the JASON group of scientific advisors.   The Committee supports strengthening predictive capabilities by obtaining critical data from focused and fundamental experiments that measure key dynamic properties of plutonium and other relevant materials and that study the interaction of radiation with matter. Given the cost of integral scaled subcritical experiments, the Committee encourages NNSA to prioritize scaled experiments that inform decisions for future life extension programs. The Committee also directs NNSA to provide a clear justification if it decides to increase the frequency of these experiments more than once every 18 months.

Engineering Campaign.   The Committee recommends $90,043,000 for the engineering campaign. Funding for enhanced surety and funding associated with advanced diagnostics under Enhanced Surveillance has been moved to a new Technology Maturation Campaign.

Inertial Confinement Fusion Ignition and High-Yield Campaign.  The Committee recommends $528,376,000, an increase of $127,333,000 above the request, for the inertial confinement fusion ignition and high-yield campaign. The increase reflects a movement of $113,333,000 for the National Ignition Facility [NIF] operations in the Site Stewardship Site Operations account to the Facility Operations and Target Production account in this campaign to improve transparency of NIF operating costs. The Committee recommends that no funds within Site Operations and Maintenance shall be used for NIF. Within the funds for inertial confinement fusion, $329,000,000, $66,950,000, $54,000,000, and $6,000,000 shall be used for inertial confinement fusion activities at the NIF, the University of Rochester’s Omega facility, Sandia National Laboratory’s Z facility, and the Naval Research Laboratory, respectively.  Within the $329,000,000 available for NIF, $30,000,000 is for the Advanced Radiographic Capability.

“The Committee supports NNSA’s approach as laid out in the December 2012 Path Forward Report to Congress on the use of the National Ignition Facility, which involves more focused experiments to understand fundamental physics and improve the predictability of simulation codes for indirect drive ignition while also supporting polar drive and magnetically driven ignition experiments as alternative approaches to ignition. However, the Committee is concerned that NNSA has not developed clear metrics to measure NIF’s progress in achieving ignition and supporting stockpile stewardship.  This Committee’s support for the National Ignition Facility will continue to be contingent on the unique contributions the facility makes to advance fundamental understanding of weapons physics. The Committee directs NNSA to provide the Committee within 60 days of enactment of this Act a 3-year plan that lays out significant milestones NIF plans to achieve on the path to ignition and critical experiments needed to support the stockpile stewardship program.

“The Committee is also concerned by the operating costs of NIF, which is currently the most expensive experimental facility at the Department of Energy and NNSA. The Committee has seen little effort by NNSA to find operating efficiencies without significantly reducing the shot rate or laser energies. The Committee directs NNSA to submit to the Committee within 120 days of enactment of this Act a plan to increase the shot rate at NIF over the next 3 years with a budget of $329,000,000 over the next 3 years.

“Consistent with NNSA’s other inertial confinement fusion facilities, the conferees direct that no less than 50 percent of the facility time on the NIF shall be dedicated to non-ignition stockpile stewardship experiments. The conferees further direct that Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory follow the advice of the High Energy Density Planning and Facility Coordination Council, which is made up of nuclear weapons physics experts from all three NNSA laboratories, to determine which non-ignition stockpile stewardship experiments shall be conducted on NIF that meet the highest priorities of the stockpile stewardship program.

Advanced Simulation and Computing.  The Committee recommends $600,569,000, an increase of $36,240,000 above the request, for advanced simulation and computing. Within these funds, the Committee recommends $69,000,000 for activities associated with the exascale initiative, such as advanced system architecture design contracts with vendors and codesign and advanced weapons code development to effectively use new high performance computing platforms.

Technology Maturation.  The Committee has replaced the Readiness Campaign with the Technology Maturation Campaign. The Committee recommends $253,654,000 for the Technology Maturation Campaign, which includes funding from Stockpile Services and the Engineering and Readiness Campaigns. Funding for tritium activities has been moved to Stockpile Services. The Technology Maturation Campaign’s goal will be to develop and deploy multi-system weapons component manufacturing capabilities needed to replace or upgrade technologies in nuclear weapons systems. The Committee supports efforts to modernize and increase the cost efficiency of manufacturing processes for the production of neutron generators, tritium reservoirs, detonators, and other critical technologies.”

 

Separate from Weapons Activities is Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation.

Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation

The FY 2013 budget (not including the mandatory reduction) is $2,434.3 million
The FY 2014 request is $2,140.1 million, a decrease of $294.2 million or 12.1 percent
The House Appropriations Committee recommendation is $2,100.0 million, a decrease of $334.3 million or 13.7 percent
The Senate Appropriations Committee recommendation is $2,180.1 million, a decrease of $254.2   million or 10.4 percent

The committee report states:

“The Committee recommends $2,180,142,000, an increase of $40,000,000 above the request, for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. The Committee commends NNSA for making significant progress in meeting the goal of securing all vulnerable nuclear materials within 4 years. Since April 2009, when President Obama announced the 4 year goal, NNSA has removed over 1,500 kilograms of highly enriched uranium and plutonium -- enough material for approximately 60 nuclear weapons. As part of this effort, in less than 4 years, NNSA has removed all highly enriched uranium from 10 countries -- for a cumulative total of 23 countries where a terrorist can no longer access dangerous nuclear materials.  Further, NNSA has completed security upgrades at dozens of additional buildings in Russia and other countries to reduce the threat of theft of weapons usable nuclear material.

“Despite the success of securing and permanently removing dangerous nuclear materials over the last 4 years that significantly reduces the threat of nuclear terrorism, the Committee is frustrated that the NNSA budget request does not make nonproliferation activities a top priority and fails to provide the necessary resources to complete critical nonproliferation efforts. Rather, the budget request would let critical milestones slip. For example, shutting down or converting 200 research reactors that use highly enriched uranium, which is a critical step in permanently removing highly enriched uranium from the remaining countries around the world, would take 8 years longer and would not be completed until 2030.

“The Committee believes significant quantities of nuclear and radiological materials are still unsecure and vulnerable to theft. More than 1,000 kilograms of highly enriched uranium are still sitting in a handful of countries, large quantities of plutonium are still at risk, and over a hundred reactors still need to be converted to low enriched uranium or shut down. Further, thousands of radiological sources at medical facilities in the United States and overseas are not well protected and could be used for radiological dispersal devices, which could cause serious economic, psychological, and social disruption.

“To address these concerns, the Committee has restored funding to critical nonproliferation programs that keep America safe from nuclear terrorism and dispose of dangerous nuclear and radiological materials.

“The Committee directs NNSA to submit by May 1, 2014 a new 4-year strategic plan with metrics, goals, and needed funds to secure and dispose of the remaining vulnerable nuclear and radiological materials that present the greatest terrorism risk to the United States. The plan should describe how and in what timeframe NNSA plans to remove all highly enriched uranium [HEU] and plutonium from the remaining countries around the world and secure the highest risk nuclear and radiological materials at civilian sites by the end of the decade.”

Later in this same section, under Global Threat Reduction Initiative, is the following:

“Within the funds available for the HEU reactor conversion program, the Committee recommends $52,000,000 as requested to continue supporting NNSA’s efforts in developing a capability which does not currently exist in the U.S. to produce Moly-99 - a medical isotope used in 16 million nuclear medicine procedures in the U.S. each year - with low enriched uranium by 2016.

“The Committee is frustrated by NNSA’s failure to provide sufficient funding in the preceding 3 fiscal years to meet the target goal of converting or shutting down 200 research reactors that use highly enriched uranium [HEU] around the world by 2022. HEU-fueled research reactors have some of the world’s weakest security measures and a determined terrorist could use HEU reactor fuel for a nuclear device. The Committee believes permanently eliminating supplies of HEU as quickly as possible around the world significantly reduces the threat of nuclear terrorism. Because each reactor conversion takes approximately 2 to 5 years, depending on a variety of factors, such as time needed to modify facilities to accept low enriched uranium fuel, funding is needed in advance to prepare for these conversions. Because of insufficient planning and funding, the goal of converting or shutting down HEU-fueled research reactors has slipped by 8 years -- to 2030. The Committee encourages NNSA to provide sufficient funding in the outyears to avoid any further delays in this program.”