FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

Senate FY 2011 Department of Energy Funding Bill: JDEM, NNSA

Richard M. Jones
Number 81 - July 26, 2010  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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The following is additional material from the recently released Senate Appropriations Committee report accompanying the FY 2011 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act. See FYI #79 for funding and program recommendations for the Office of Science.

OFFICE OF SCIENCE - JOINT DARK ENERGY MISSION:

The final version of Senate Appropriations Committee Report 111-228 added this sentence to the Office of Science language under High Energy Physics:

“The Committee is very encouraged by DOE and NASA's collaborative effort and success on the Joint Dark Energy Mission Interim Science Working Group and expects the Department to continue to fully support this process and to work closely with NASA in the planning and execution of this mission.”

NATIONAL NUCLEAR SECURITY ADMINISTRATION - CAMPAIGNS:

FY 2010 appropriation: $6,384.4 million
FY 2011 Administration request: $7,008.8 million
House subcommittee recommendation: $6,910 million, an increase of $526 million or 8.2 percent above this year.
Senate full committee recommendation: $7,018.8 million, an increase of $634.4 million or 10.0 percent above this year.

The Senate committee report stated:

“This level of funding will allow NNSA to modernize aging infrastructure and maintain the scientific, technological, and engineering capabilities needed to assess the safety, security, and reliability of nuclear weapons.”

The Senate committee report made the following recommendations on programs within Campaigns. The House committee report has not been released.

“The campaigns support scientific research, experimental activities and advanced computation, which make up the core of the science-based stockpile stewardship program. This program has enabled the U.S. Government to ensure the safety, reliability, and security of our nuclear weapons stockpile without underground nuclear testing for the past 16 years. The [Senate] Committee recommends $1,693,630,000 for NNSA Campaigns, which is $22,900,000 below the request.”

Science Campaign:

FY 2010 appropriation: $295.7 million
FY 2011 Administration request: $365.2 million
Senate full committee recommendation: $354.3 million, an increase of $58.6 million or 19.8 percent above this year.

The Senate committee report stated:

“Within these funds, $56,050,000 shall be used for advanced certification to advance scientific understanding of safety and security systems for nuclear weapons and to improve the annual weapons certification process. The Committee continues to strongly support the weapons physics activities at Sandia's Z facility that are critical to sustaining a safe, secure, and effective nuclear stockpile. The Committee provides $53,296,000 to Sandia's Z facility. An additional $10,000,000 in funding will help the Z facility conduct plutonium experiments in environments of extreme conditions found in nuclear weapons explosions.”

Engineering Campaign:

FY 2010 appropriation: $150.0 million
FY 2011 Administration request: $142.0 million
Senate full committee recommendation: $149.9 million, essentially flat funding.

The Senate committee report stated:

“Within these funds, the Committee provides $21,510,000 for weapons systems engineering assessment technology activities. Nuclear weapons may have to operate in a nuclear environment and electronic and other nonnuclear weapons components, which are critical to the proper functioning of a nuclear weapon, must survive thermal, blast and shock effects as well as exposure to neutron and gamma radiation. The Committee is providing funding to support testing and experimental capabilities that create or simulate radiation environments similar to those found in a nuclear explosion. The funding will also maintain the highly technical set of specialized skills needed to develop the tests and simulations, interpret the results, and design radiation hardened components for life extension programs, such as the upcoming W78.”

Inertial Confinement Fusion Ignition and High-yield Campaign:

FY 2010 appropriation: $457.9 million
FY 2011 Administration request: $481.6 million
Senate full committee recommendation: $481.6 million, an increase of $23.7 million or 5.2 percent above this year

The Senate committee report stated:

“Within these funds, at least $62,477,000 and $48,000,000 shall be used for inertial confinement fusion activities at the University of Rochester's Omega facility and Sandia National Laboratory's Z facility, respectively.

“The Committee is concerned that NNSA has been slow to solicit help and ideas from outside experts with knowledge in inertial confinement fusion to make the first ignition experiments a success. The Committee questions Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's decision, as the laboratory with lead responsibility for managing ignition experiments, to wait 4 years - and only months before the first ignition experiment is expected to take place - to implement the JASON study group's 2005 recommendation to form a standing external review committee of experts that could provide expert advice on the scientific and technical challenges. Even with the creation of this external review committee, a Government Accountability Office [GAO] study found that the committee currently in place falls short of meeting the intent of the JASON study group recommendation. For example, GAO found that the committee may not be able to give fully objective, candid advice because the committee will take direction from, and report to, Livermore's Director, rather than to NNSA. The Committee strongly supports the creation of an independent advisory board that can evaluate experiments planned at the National Ignition Facility, identify potential weaknesses with the experimental plan, and recommend, if necessary, alternative approaches to address scientific and technical challenges. The Committee also strongly supports the advisory committee's role in setting a strategic direction for inertial confinement fusion and high-energy density physics research and determining how best to use current facilities to advance this scientific field.”

Advanced Simulation and Computing:

FY 2010 appropriation: $567.6 million
FY 2011 Administration request: $615.8 million
Senate full committee recommendation: $615.8 million, an increase of $48.2 million or 8.5 percent above this year

The Senate committee report stated:

“The Committee supports NNSA's efforts to establish a dual validation approach in the annual assessment process. Independent peer review by Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories, with assistance from Sandia National Laboratory, will increase confidence in the annual assessment of the current stockpile and weapons that are refurbished under life extension programs.”

Readiness Campaign:

FY 2010 appropriation: $100.0 million
FY 2011 Administration request: $112.1 million
Senate full committee recommendation: $92.1 million, a decrease of $7.9 million or 7.9 percent below this year

The Senate committee report stated:

“Within these funds, no more than $30,199,000 shall be used for tritium production efforts. The Committee is concerned about the technical challenges NNSA is facing with tritium production at the Watts Bar reactor and the slow progress in increasing production capacity.”

Another section of the committee report is entitled:

READINESS IN TECHNICAL BASE AND FACILITIES

One paragraph from this section notes:

“The Committee has also restored funding for the Los Alamos Neutron Science Center [LANSCE] Refurbishment project. This facility is the cornerstone of scientific research at Los Alamos serving between 500-600 users per year. LANSCE is currently being used to support stockpile stewardship experiments, produce medical isotopes to treat cancer and calibrate medical imaging equipment, and conduct Office of Science research to study matter and materials that may be used in new energy technologies. Specifically, NNSA's stockpile stewardship plans through 2020 show LANSCE being used by the three nuclear weapons laboratories to address issues of immediate concern to the stockpile and only LANSCE will be able to provide needed data in a timely and cost-effective manner. Congressional funding over the last 2 years has helped Los Alamos purchase spare parts for a critical component that is reaching the end of its life and will allow LANSCE to return to full operation. Fiscal year 2011 funds will allow Los Alamos to purchase parts for one of its main power sources that are expected to fail within the next 3 years and develop and purchase new computers, instruments, controls, and diagnostics systems that have components that are no longer commercially available because they were manufactured in the 1960s.”

Richard M. Jones
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
rjones@aip.org
301-209-3095