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American Chemical Society's Weekly PressPac -- Jan. 7, 2009
Date:1/11/2009

.baxter@nhs.net


ARTICLE #5 EMBARGOED FOR 9 A.M., EASTERN TIME, Jan. 12, 2009

Shrinking U.S. nuclear weapons labs poised for historic reinvention
Chemical & Engineering News

Because of a changing global role for nuclear weapons, government officials are seeking to cut the size of the U.S. nuclear weapons labs by a third-over the next 20 years. Along with the sweeping reductions, many scientists are calling for a historic reinvention of the weapons complex, which will be shaped in large part by President-Elect Barack Obama. An article on this topic is scheduled for the January 12 issue of Chemical & Engineering News, ACS' weekly newsmagazine.

In the article, C&EN senior correspondent Jeff Johnson notes that the U.S. Department of Energy's nuclear weapons complex currently includes some 37,000 weapons staff, almost half of them employed at three national labs: Lawrence Livermore, Sandia, and Los Alamos. But as the government reduces the size of its nuclear weapons arsenal, thousands of jobs at the labs have already been lost and experts project that job cutbacks will continue in the future, the article notes.

Decision-makers are split on what exactly the future of the weapons complex should be. Instead of focusing primarily on weapons manufacturing, testing, and maintenance, some experts are calling for the labs to direct more of their attention to research related to national security, energy, climate change, and other non-weapons scientific work. Other experts advocate development of new types of nuclear weapons, such as a "green" bomb that produce fewer environmental toxins. Notes one key political leader: "The labs missions have morphed and changed over the years and will continue to do so."

ARTICLE #5 EMBARGOED FOR 9 A.M., EASTERN TIME, Jan. 12, 2009
"DOE Weapons Labs at a Cross-road"

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Contact: Michael Woods
m_woods@acs.org
202-872-6293
American Chemical Society
Source:Eurekalert  

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