Navigation Links
New report reviews science and engineering quality at national security laboratories

WASHINGTON The science and engineering capabilities that underpin the nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship and nonproliferation missions at the nation's three national security laboratories are "healthy and vibrant," says a new report from the National Research Council. The committee that wrote the report found no problems with the quality of science and engineering that would prevent certification of the stockpile. However, the report identifies several issues that, if not addressed, have the potential to erode the ability to perform high-quality work at the laboratories.

Congress asked the Research Council to review the quality of scientific research and engineering at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), which are part of the National Nuclear Security Administration. This report is the second of the two-phase study; the first report, released in February 2012, examined management of the laboratories.

The new report examines the laboratories' capabilities in four areas of fundamental importance to their primary missions: (1) weapons design; (2) system engineering and understanding of the effects of aging on system performance; (3) weapons science base; and (4) modeling and simulation. In many areas, science and engineering at the laboratories is of very high quality. But the report identifies several stresses that could contribute to the deterioration of the work environment for scientists and engineers and limit the quality of their work in the future and thus the nation's ability to benefit fully from the laboratories' potential.

The United States declared a unilateral moratorium on nuclear weapons testing in 1992. In the absence of new test data, the science-based stockpile stewardship program relies on pre-moratorium test data, computer models and simulations, surveillance, and other experiments . The laboratories are building enhanced computational models that account for changes in weapon properties as they age, and this requires state-of-the-art S&E capabilities in a number of areas, the report says. NNSA should conduct a detailed assessment of simulation and modeling needs over the next decade and implement an adequately funded plan to meet those needs.

Experimental work is essential to the laboratories' missions. While the safety risks inherent in some experimentation must be controlled, the report says that the current system for managing these risks is contributing to escalating costs and schedule delays, and in some cases may limit experimentation. The U.S. Department of Energy and NNSA should work with laboratory managers to review the system for assessing and mitigating these risks to improve efficiency while maintaining a safe working environment.

The laboratories maintain and operate world-class experimental facilities, but smaller experimental facilities are also essential for the laboratories to conduct their work and to attract and retain staff, the report says. For example, these smaller facilities are important for producing weapons components such as neutron generators or for processing plutonium and evaluating how it ages. The laboratory directors should ensure a proper balance between these small scientific facilities and the larger signature facilities.


Contact: Molly Galvin
National Academy of Sciences

Related biology news :

1. APS issues new policy requiring identification of sex or gender in reporting scientific research
2. Report presents designs for study of cancer risks near US nuclear facilities
3. Researchers report potential for a moderate New England red tide in 2012
4. Aware, Inc. Reports First Quarter 2012 Financial Results
5. Radiologists study necessity of additional imaging recommendations in PET/CT oncologic reports
6. BGI reports the completed sequence of foxtail millet genome
7. Science reporters win ASM Public Communications Award
8. ACRG and BGI report findings from genomics research on recurrent hepatitis B virus integration
9. iView Systems iTrakĀ® version 5.5 delivers optimized Incident Reporting
10. Report details efforts to improve, advance indoor microbial sampling
11. New report examines effects of trees killed by bark beetles on wildfire
Post Your Comments:
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015  The J. Craig ... report titled, "DNA Synthesis and Biosecurity: Lessons Learned and ... Department of Health and Human Services guidance for synthetic ... 2010. --> --> ... also has the potential to pose unique biosecurity threats. ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... , Oct. 29, 2015  Rubicon Genomics, Inc., ... U.S. distribution of its DNA library preparation products, ... Rubicon,s new ThruPLEX Plasma-seq kit. ThruPLEX Plasma-seq has ... preparation of NGS libraries for liquid biopsies--the analysis ... and prognostic applications in cancer and other conditions. ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... October 29, 2015 NXTD ... company focused on the growing mobile commerce market ... that StackCommerce, a leading marketplace to discover and ... Wocket® smart wallet on StackSocial for this holiday ... or the "Company"), a biometric authentication company focused ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/30/2015)... (PRWEB) , ... November 30, 2015 , ... Global Stem Cells Group announced ... clinics in the cities of Arica and Iquique in northern Chile. The facilities are part ... offer the most advanced protocols and techniques in stem cell medicine to patients from around ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... /PRNewswire/ - BioAmber Inc. (NYSE: BIOA ), a leader in ... Business Act on Climate Pledge, alongside more than 140 companies ... Obama Administration to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to climate action ... COP21 Paris climate negotiations. ... Canada . --> BioAmber uses biotechnology to ...
(Date:11/30/2015)...  Culprits beware, a University at Albany research ... is taking crime scene fingerprint identification to a ... -->   --> Photo ... --> Halámek and his team ... concept for identifying whether a culprit is male ...
(Date:11/30/2015)... Nov. 30, 2015 /PRNewswire/ - Zenith Epigenetics Corp. ("Zenith" or ... Norman C.W. Wong to its Board of Directors to ... Zenith with a wealth of experience as co-founder of Resverlogix, ... --> --> Dr. Wong ... board of directors. Zenith,s long standing expertise in epigenetics and ...
Breaking Biology Technology: