FY 2012 Senate Appropriations Bill for the Department of Energy: NNSA

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Publication date: 
15 September 2011

The  Senate Appropriations Committee has approved its version of the FY 2012 Energy  and Water Development Appropriations Bill.   Senate Report 112-75  accompanies  H.R. 2354 and provides the committee’s funding and policy recommendations of  subcommittee chair Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and her colleagues.  This FYI excerpts selections from the 15  pages in this report pertaining to the National Nuclear Security Administration  (NNSA). Readers are urged to consult the report for all of the language  regarding a particular program.

Page  numbers in the pdf version of the committee report are provided for reference  and additional information.  All numbers  in this FYI are taken from detailed tables in the Senate committee report  starting on page 129.  See FYI #74 for  the House report language.

National  Nuclear Security Administration (total):

The  FY 2011 appropriation was $10,522.5 million     The  FY 2012 administration request was $11,712.6 million     The  FY 2012 House-passed bill provides $10,614.0 million, an increase of $91.5  million or 0.9 percent from the current budget.     The  Senate Appropriations Committee bill provides $11,050.0 million, an increase of  $527.5 million or 5.0 percent.

There  was no introductory report language on NNSA.


The  FY 2011 appropriation was $6,896.4 million     The  FY 2012 administration request was $7,589.4 million     The  FY 2012 House-passed bill provides $7,091.7 million, an increase of $195.3  million or 2.8 percent from the current budget.     The  Senate Appropriations Committee bill provides $7,190.0 million, an increase of  $293.6 million or 4.3 percent.

Selections  from the report follow:

“The  Committee recognizes the important contributions that advanced computing and experimental  facilities have made in the last few years to the success of the stockpile  stewardship program and to increase confidence in the safety, security, and  reliability of the nuclear weapons stockpile. After investing billions of  dollars over more than a decade, critical capabilities are in place to respond  to nuclear weapons issues without underground nuclear weapons testing.  Petascale computing capabilities allow  weapons scientists and engineers to conduct weapons simulations with reasonable  efficiency and resolution. In the past year, the Dual-Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic  Test facility at Los Alamos National Laboratory successfully completed  four experiments that resolved a long open significant finding investigation,  improved the basis for the assessment of several stockpile systems, and provided  data to better understand multipoint  safety options for possible use in future life extension programs. The past  year also marked the execution of the Barolo series of subcritical experiments  at the U1a underground facility at the Nevada National Security Site. These  experiments provided data on the behavior of plutonium driven by high  explosives, which is critical to understanding primary implosions. The National  Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory also successfully  completed its first set of weapon-relevant physics experiments to help validate  computer models that resolved one of the most critical areas of uncertainty in  assessing nuclear weapons       performance.”

See  page 99 of the report for extensive language on Directed Stockpile Work,  including sections on life extension programs, stockpile systems, weapons  dismantlement, stockpile services, engineering campaign, advanced simulation  and computing, and readiness campaign.   Under the heading Science Campaign, the committee commends experiments  at Sandia’s Z facility, and later declares “No funding shall be used to design,  prepare, or execute a scaled experiment.”   There is extensive language regarding the Inertial Confinement Fusion  Ignition and High-Yield Campaign, for which the requested funds were  provided.  Regarding the National  Ignition Facility, the report states: “the Committee remains concerned about  NNSA’s ability to achieve ignition - the primary purpose of constructing the  facility - by the end of fiscal year 2012 when the National Ignition Campaign  ends and the facility should transition to regular ignition operations and  pursues broad scientific applications.” The appropriators direct an independent  advisory board be established, and mandates a report by November 30, 2012 if  the facility that does not achieve ignition, meeting a specified criteria, by  September 30, 2012.


The  FY 2011 appropriation was $2,273.7 million     The  FY 2012 administration request was $2,519.5 million     The  FY 2012 House-passed bill provides $2,091.8 million, a decrease of $181.9  million or 8.0 percent from the current budget.     The  Senate Appropriations Committee bill provides $2,383.3 million, an increase of  $109.6 million or 4.8 percent.

The  opening paragraph of this section that starts on page 107 states “The Committee  commends NNSA for making significant progress in meeting the goal of securing  all vulnerable nuclear materials within 4 years,” later explaining “The  Committee encourages NNSA to continue its accelerated efforts to secure vulnerable  nuclear materials.”

Appropriators  provided the requested funding for Nonproliferation and Verification Research  and Development, and support the one-time investment to modernize the Global  Seismographic Network to “monitor compliance with the Comprehensive Nuclear  Test Ban Treaty” and for the detection of other foreign nuclear tests.  The committee stresses that NNSA should do  more to transfer new technologies to customers such as the Department of  Homeland Security.  This section also  includes the following paragraph:

“The  Committee also encourages NNSA to accelerate efforts to find alternatives to  helium-3 for radiation detection technologies, especially portal monitors that  are deployed at ports and border       crossings  to detect radiation and prevent the smuggling of nuclear material into the  United States. The Committee is concerned that critical shortages of this gas  may limit deployments of this critical technology. NNSA’s success in finding  alternatives will benefit other Government agencies.”

In  the section on Nonproliferation and International Security on page 108, the  report states “The Committee believes that this program to assist weapons  scientists in Russia and other countries     needs  to be reassessed. NNSA has not provided sufficient justification to the  Committee on the continuing nonproliferation benefits of this program,  especially the continuing threat posed by scientists in Russia and other  countries who once worked on weapons of mass destruction programs, and whether  improved economic conditions in these countries merit U.S. aid.”

Other  sections in the report detail the appropriators’ recommendations regarding  International Nuclear Materials Protection and Cooperation (page 109), Fissile  Materials Disposition (page 110) and Naval Reactors (page 112). In the section  starting on page 111 on the Global Threat Reduction Initiative, the  appropriators state:

“The  Committee supports NNSA’s efforts to accelerate the shut down or conversion of  research reactors that use highly enriched uranium [HEU] around the world.  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 agrees that eliminating these HEU       stockpiles  should be a priority and directly supports efforts to secure vulnerable nuclear  materials because once a reactor is converted or shut down, the HEU fuel can be  shipped to the United States  or Russia for permanent disposition and would no longer pose a threat. Despite  the slow progress in converting or shutting down HEU-fueled research reactors  in Russia, the Committee commends NNSA for reaching agreements quickly with  other countries, such as China and the Czech Republic, to convert or shut down their  reactors.”

Regarding  Moly-99, this section of the report explains:

“The  Committee also supports related activities such as developing high density low  enriched uranium fuel to convert high performance HEU-fueled reactors and  developing a capability which does not currently exist in the United States to  produce Moly-99 - a medical isotope used in 16 million nuclear medicine procedures  in the United States each year - with low enriched uranium.  The Committee notes the significant  achievement of South Africa’s ability to convert their reactor from HEU to low  enriched uranium fuel to produce Moly-99 and that the United States received the  first shipment of Moly-99 produced with low enriched fuel in December 2010.”