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1 Introduction Nuclear weapons are central to the national security policy of the United States. Whatever our personal feelings about these weapons, we recognize their importance now and in the years ahead. The weapons exist, and we will be the custodians of them and the materials of which they are made indefinitely into the future. The Department of Energy designs, manufactures, and maintains nuclear weapons for the Department of Defense. The weapons depend on the unique properties of isotopes of certain elements, among them uranium-235, plutonium- 239, and tritium (the isotope of hydrogen with an atomic weight of 3~. To produce a nuclear weapon, these materials must be configured so that at the appropriate instant they are brought together in a fashion that leads to the release of enormous amounts of energy in a very brief period of time (see Appendix E). Uranium-235 exists in nature, but it must be isolated from other uranium isotopes. Plutonium and elitism do not exist in nature in significant quantities, so they are "created" in production nuclear reactors. The Department creates, maintains, and modernizes the national stockpile of nuclear weapons at govemment~wned, contractor- operated facilities that, taken together, make up the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. THE NUCLEAR WEAPONS COMPLEX Some 17 major facilities in 12 states are engaged in the production of nuclear materials and their assembly into weapons. The total budget for the operation of these plants in FY 1990 is nearly $10 billion. 8

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INTRODUCTION 9 A description of the various facilities and their respective roles in the weapons complex is given in Appendix B. In brief overview, the facilities are of three different types: weapons laboratories, materials production facilities, and weapons production facilities (see Table 1.1~. The weapons laboratories design and develop the weapons and test He various components and devices. The materials production facilities are engaged chiefly in the production of special nuclear materials. Much of the focus of activities in the complex is on Be preparation of materials for transmutation in the production reactors and the subsequent extraction and purification of plutonium and tritium from reactor targets and recycled materials. The weapons production facilities fabricate the required nuclear components, provide the various nonnuclear components, and assemble the weapons. The nonnuclear components include various electrical and mechanical devices, conventional explosives, neutron generators, shielding, and other parts. The facilities in the complex are orated by contractors supervised by DOE. Most of Be technical expertise with regard to Me design and operations, as well as the detailed knowledge of the facilities, necessarily resides with the contractors. DOE is responsible for assuring Mat the demands for production are satisfied; that health, safety, and environmental concerns are adequately met; and that security and safeguard issues are appropriately addressed. The Department must also ensure that public funds are appropriately spent. In fulfilling these responsibilities, DOE and its contractors maintain a staff of about 80,000 people. The weapons complex faces two types of hazards: those confronted by any large industrial complex, and the special hazards Eat arise from the unique TABLE 1.1 Nonreactor Facilities in the Weapons Complex, Other Than Test Sites and Waste Repositones Weapons Laboratories Materials Production Facilities Facilities Weapons Production Los Alamos National Ashtabula Plant Kansas City Plant Laboratory Feed Materials Production Mound Facility Lawrence Livermore Center Pantex Plant National Laboratory Hanford Nuclear Reservation Pinellas Plant Sandia National Idaho Chemical Processing Plant Rocky Flats Plant Laboratory Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Y-12 Plant Plant Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant Savannah River Site

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10 TIlENUCl~:AR WEAPONS COMPLY mission of the weapons complex. The familiar hazards include those posed by fire, electrical and rotating machinery, compressed-gas systems, and the handling of high-energy explosives and hazardous chemicals, such as hydrogen fluoride, mercury, and various solvents used in processing. The unusual hazards derive from the radioactivity or chemical toxicity of some of the special materials required for weapons or incidental to their processing and handling and the unique and absolute need to avoid accumulations of plutonium or enriched uranium that could result in a criticality accident (see Chapter 4 and Appendix C). Thus fire is a conventional industrial hazard, but it can create specie problems in facilities processing, for example, plutonium. The use of these materials and the need to limit He exposure of humans to them put special demands on air supply, filtenng, and monitoring. Care must be taken to assure Hat large quantizes of these materials are not released ~ the environment in the event of an error or accident. Of course, there is also the need to control and monitor effluents Dom the plants and to assure that the disposal or storage of wastes does not have detrimental effects on people or the environment. The assurance of satisfactory operations depends on many factors: proper design and choice of materials for construction and equipment careful attention to proper procedures; awareness of hazards and how to avoid them; careful maintenance and the ability to upgrade aspects of a facility when the need anses; use of design, procedures, and training to avoid and mitigate accidents; and a thorough dedication to health, safety, and environmental compliance at all levels. THE CURRENT SITUATION The D`eparLrnent (and ultimately the Confess and the U.S. public) now confronts a serious challenge in managing and operating the weapons complex. Most of the facilities were built before the mid-1960s, and many are now approaching the end of their useful lives. Some of the facilities were constructed on a wartime crash basis. At that time, little consideration was given to design for severe earthquakes, maximum probable floods, tornado-borne objects, or other extreme conditions for which much of the data, as well as the techniques for taking such events into account, have been developed only in more recent decades. Many facilities have obsolete equipment, and the difficulties of continued reliance on such equipment have been compounded by inadequate attention to maintenance over long periods of time. Current operations are also burdened by an environmental legacy derived from past operations. The primary focus of attention in the early years of operations with respect to safety of operations as well as the handling of effluents and wastes- was on radioactive materials. The customary practices of the time were followed with regard to nonradioactive wastes. Now, not only has the behavior of the radioactive effluents and wastes proven to be far more troublesome than

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INTRODUCTION 11 anticipated but also the handling of the more familiar nonradioactive effluents and wastes has been shown to be seriously deficient. AS a result there are now potentially serious environmental problems throughout the complex' and substantial pressure has arisen to restore the environments prospect that is both technically and financially challenging. The difficulties that He Department now confronts are exacerbated because the general climate within which the complex operates has recently changed in several significant respects. First, the Deparunent must now operate under gamer public scrutiny than it did in the pa-et. The cloak of secrecy Cat shrouded many of its operations in the past is lifting. Tl~e revelations of environmental contamination from past activities and public concern wig nuclear weapons and with nuclear activities in general have combined -to create a climate of distrust. Lee intense public scrutiny is not likely to abate. Second, DOE now has less control over its operations than it did in the past. The Deponent has acknowledged that it will comply with the standards established and enforced by other agencies of government (both state and federal), and it is no longer in a position to define its own environmental and safety obligations independently. The outside agencies have no direct concern for DOE's production goals, yet they must now be satisfied that the complex is adequately meeting its environmental obligations. Third, the safety and environmental standards with which the facilities must comply have become increasingly stringent over time and may become even more stringent in the future. The trend presents particular difficulties in the operation of aging plants that were designed without consideration of such standards. Fourth, the budgetary environment within which the Department must operate has changed to one of stringency and constraints, and competition for the use of funds appropriated for nuclear weapons production has become intense. Moreover, an increasing portion of the budget for weapons-related activities is likely to be used for environmental remediation. In fact, the Department in many instances may be obligated by legally enforceable orders to allocate discretionary funds to environmental cleanup. Fifth, although nuclear weapons are expected to play a continuing role in deterring war, continued nuclear weapons production is perceived to have decreasing significance in the overall national security of the United States. Significant reductions in nuclear weapons are desired by many, and uncertainties exist about the status of the weapons complex as an element essential to U.S. national security. THE CHALLENGES In the remainder of this report, we seek to illuminate some of the issues that confront the nation regarding the nuclear weapons complex. In broad overview, our findings and recommendations bear upon the following overarching challenges.

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12 THE NUC' FAR WEAPONS COMPLEX Sewing Production Goals The "demand" for production arises from He requirements for nuclear weapons that are established in the Presidential Stockpile Memorandum. To generate the memorandum, DOD, in consultation win DOE, interprets fundamental national security objectives with regard to nuclear deterrence under broad White House guidance. Obviously, the demand for weapons provides the fundamental underpinning for He activities of the weapons complex. But, although DOD plays a dominant role in defining the requirements for nuclear weapons, it is DOE that is obligated to meet the demand and to bear the budgetary costs. The relationship here between producer WOES and customer (DOD) is not the normal one encountered in commerce. In this case, He producer must seek to meet the customer's demand whether the funds available to do it are sufficient or not. We have not examined the basis for, or costs of, nuclear weapons the processes by which the demand is set~3ecause the examination of such maters was beyond our purview. We perceive, however, Hat DOE is now obligated to produce nuclear materials and weapons through a decisionmaking process that may not reflect a full evaluation of the risks and costs of production including health, safety, and environmental implications. Until now, when cuts in expenditures have been made to reflect available resources, health, safety, and environmental objectives have suffered rather than production. DOE, as indicated earlier, has become increasingly aware of the importance of accounting for risks and costs; it faces the challenge of assuring that the resulting calculus is included in the governmentwide decisionmaking process. Setting Priorities In order to meet its commitments, the Department must choose among variety of projects that entail substantial budgetary costs: possible new facilities; expensive upgrades for health, safety, environmental, or production reasons; and remediation of the consequences of past practices. DOE has neither the technical capacity nor the budget to advance all the proposed activities at one time. Clearly, DOE must establish priorities in concert with DOD and the Congress. Using Technical Strengths Many activities in the complex are accomplished by using processes and practices that have not been substantially modified in over 40 years of operation. And much equipment is old. Although this state of affairs is not necessarily bad, the Debarment must be open to change where the incorporation of new technology is cost-effective and where it offers significant advantages in productivity and in the protection of health, safety, and the environment. Successful technical change requires the encouragement of the technical advancement of staff and a willingness

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INTRODUCTION 13 to harness capacities both within and outside the complex to a greater degree than in the past. Developing and Maintaining Competence The Oration of the complex presents serious technical challenges Hat demand the recruitnent, training, and retention of qualified professional and technical staff. For some specialties, it is clear Cat Be supply of appropriately qualified personnel is limited and insufficient to meet national needs; here, DOE may have to assume some responsibility for helping ~ improve the national capability. The complex also faces new challenges, such as remediation of contamiT~ sites, that require technical expertise not prevalent at the facilities in the past. Indeed, as in every human endeavor, the likelihood that DOE will adequately accomplish its mission ultimately depends on the technical quality of its staff and of contractor employees. Changing the DOE Culture The Secretary of Energy has observed that, in the past, the predominant focus of activities in the weapons complex has been on production. Now, however, consideration of health, safety, and environmental concerns must become an integral part of every facet of facility operations. Although management and other changes can assist, the achievement of this objective can occur only if a widespread and fundamental change takes place in the attitudes of federal and contractor employees and their respective institutions. An important component of the Deparunent's effort to restore the public's confidence is the maintenance of competent staff that is motivated to perform its work safely in an environmentally sound manner, and that takes pride in doing so. All tile Department's activities must be advanced with this end in mind.