Saturday, March 03, 2007

 

Incompetent NNSA Flubs RRW Decision

[Anonymous LANL RRW team member unloads. For another West Coast view of this story, click on the title of this post. --Pat]

Well, as an embarrassed LANL RRW team member, I believe our task should become to do all that we can to kill this program we (far more than LLNL) created. Joe Martz and John Pedicini took the high road throughout and sold this program. Turns out, the United States of America now values lies and dishonesty over truth and ideas. What a shame. The Nation loses on all accounts with this decision. The sooner the Navy scuttles this, the better. The Navy needs nothing that LLNL proposed! The Navy despises the snake-oil salesman from the mistake by the bay. Why oh why Mr. D’Agostino would you shove something up the ___ of the customer that they do not need or want? Perhaps the only good that can now come out of RRW is the death of NNSA. That assumes that Congress has anymore integrity than NNSA. America, you will be wasting your tax dollars with the RRW proposed by LLNL. They cannot do it, they do not know how to work with the Navy, and their design is nothing more than a relic of the past. The Nation needs Safety and Security in its arsenal. That is what LANL offered.

For some more one sided reading, check out:

http://www.insidebayarea.com/sanmateocountytimes/localnews/ci_5344369

Here are a few tidbits:

"I'm personally humbled by this. It's a huge responsibility," said Goodwin. "I look forward to serving the Navy and getting their weapon out for them."

Nobody should trust Bruce Goodwin and I guarantee you the Navy does not and never will.

“But weapons lab executives and federal officials say replicating the bombs' Cold War parts is expensive and that at least one component of the bombs is aging faster than anyone can replace -- the designers themselves. The RRWs are intended to help train a new generation of weapons scientists and engineers. “

No kidding, especially at LANL.

"What I really expect is some young Los Alamos scientists and engineers will be involved in the development work with Livermore directly, whether they are assigned to Livermore directly or will be flying there will be something the three lab directors will be working on," said Thomas D'Agostino, acting chief of the national Nuclear Security Administration. "

Don’t count on it. I think you have rubbed enough salt in the wound. Now you want us to go help the deceitful and incapable clowns from Brand X. What business school teaches this idea?

“During the Cold War, Livermore lab's designers were known for bleeding-edge bomb designs packed so full of bombs and whistles that the uniformed military more often went shopping with more conservative Los Alamos. But for the RRW, Livermore's designers dug up a bomb from the early 1980s that possessed every available safety feature of the time and through a series of nuclear explosions was proven to be highly robust. The bomb never was built because its weapons system was canceled.
Unlike Los Alamos' RRW design, which was a compendium of new-fangled features that had been tested but not together, Livermore's bomb was hardly new at all, but recycled from the Cold War.”

This writing is of the same caliber as the LLNL design.

Signing off once and for all

Anon :(

-----

But then, here's another insider's view from LANL:

Teller Hasn’t Won Yet

LANL don’t lose hope yet! Even though RRW officially went to LLNL, LLNL has a long history of proposing and winning programs only for LANL to pick up the program and complete the job. For that reason the Navy despises LLNL. I’ve been at LANL for quite awhile and seen these kinds of decisions time and time again, although not necessarily on the scale of the RRW decision. My opinion is that LANL should sit back and watch as LLNL falls on their face technically once again.

However, I personally think that this decision is, in part, a reflection of the current dysfunctional nature of X-4. People who have been here for awhile made the same observation, lack of integral test data for the X-4 LANL design. Charlie MacMillan and Mike Anastasio should look at this as an opportunity to make changes in X-4, at least if Mike and Charlie are on our side, which I doubt.

It is still hard for me to believe the customer, the Navy, would stand for this decision. There must have been a lot of backroom negotiations. This decision is a political one and we just have to wait and see what the real implications are. LLNL may end up just being a program manager with minimal technical input.

-Anonymous

-----

P.S. (from original Anonymous LANL RRW team member):

As the writer of the original post, I am embarrassed. I'm embarrassed that I actually believed the United States Government when it said RRW was a competition to be judged on technical merit. There were many independent reviews (5 according to my count) that all placed us equal or above the LLNL effort. We gave more than you can imagine of our personal lives and energy to win. And, we did. That wasn't the allowed outcome however, because it doesn't work for the no-lab-left-behind strategy.

You bet I'm angry and if you bought that RRW-2 is our consolation prize you are as foolish as I was.

I am a hard core believer in the nuclear stockpile and the purpose it serves. I believe that our nation is playing a dangerous game of politics by banking our future on LLNL. May sound bitter, but their proposal does not meet the needs of the customer. The stockpile is no longer there to protect us, it is now a make work program.

There is no weapons future at LANL. Hate to say it, but reality just knocked a few of my teeth out.

Comments:
The local papers weigh in:
--

ABQ Journal
Saturday, March 3, 2007

LANL's Warhead Bid Loses

By John Arnold
Journal Staff Writer

Los Alamos National Laboratory has lost its bid to develop the Reliable Replacement Warhead, a new nuclear weapon design meant to modernize the country's nuclear arsenal.

Department of Energy and military officials chose California's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to take on the project after an intense design competition between the rival nuclear weapons laboratories.

Sandia National Laboratories will work with Livermore to develop the weapon's non-nuclear components, according to the DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration.

Glenn Mara, principal associate director for weapons programs at LANL, said Friday he doesn't expect the decision to force significant workforce reductions.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., said LANL "will continue to play a major role in ensuring we have a safe, reliable and secure stockpile, and in advancing basic science and technology."

But semi-retired LANL physicist Brad Lee Holian said the decision announced Friday "bodes very ill" for LANL's future.

"I always have felt that what basic research has been done at Los Alamos for the nation's grander sense of national security has been under the umbrella of nuclear weapons research, and if you lose the nuclear weapons part, it becomes very difficult to justify the other stuff," Holian said.

NNSA acting administrator Thomas D'Agostino said Livermore's submission— based on a tested 1980s design— provided greater confidence the warhead could be deployed without underground testing, something the U.S. hasn't done since the early 1990s.

"In essence this was about starting off with the most conservative approach," said D'Agostino, who noted that innovations in Los Alamos' design could be incorporated into the project.

The Navy will be in charge of the project, which would first put the warhead on Trident submarine-launched missiles. The first weapons could start production in 2012.

Friday's announcement has re-energized debate over whether the warhead would hamper international nonproliferation efforts.

NNSA officials deny they are producing a new weapon, saying the warhead won't offer any new military capabilities.

And NNSA contends the program would enable the dismantling of old weapons, ultimately reducing the current stockpile, estimated at about 5,000 warheads.

Opponents, however, argue the opposite— that the Reliable Replacement Warhead sends the wrong message to nations like North Korea and Iran.

The program is motivated not by military needs but by political considerations, said Robert Nelson, a physicist with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., whose district includes Los Alamos, said in a statement Friday, "I am concerned how this new weapon affects our obligations under the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, because we need to be reducing the number of weapons, not creating new ones."

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., on Friday repeated his support for RRW and commended the design teams.

"I know there is disappointment at Los Alamos," he said, adding that the government needs to move forward on a second design competition that would consider pit reuse.
 
[And here's an excerpt from Andy Lenderman, writing for the Santa Fe New Mexican.]

-----

But New Mexico Democrats have questioned the need for the program, and its cost.

“I remain unconvinced about the need for this new weapon system,” U.S. Rep. Tom Udall, D-N.M., said in a statement.

Udall, who sits on the powerful House Appropriations Com­mittee, cited a recent study that concluded the plutonium trig­gers, or pits, of existing weap­ons last longer than previously believed. “Before proceeding with further development, congres­sional hearings should be held regarding the necessity of the program and how we’re going to pay for it,” Udall said. “Fur­thermore, I am concerned how this new weapon affects our obligations under the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, because we need to be reducing the number of weapons, not creat­ing new ones.”

U.S. Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D­N. M., also has questioned the need for the program.

“This is not the end of our RRW effort,” Domenici said.

“One system is not equivalent to transformation, and we need to move on a second design com­petition, one that should give priority to pit reuse.”
 
When the U.S. House of Representatives tried to fire UC from Los Alamos, UC told them to get bent.

When the Navy said they wanted the technically superior LANL design, UC told them to get bent.

UC will take the LLL contract and run the nuclear weapons enterprise in this country.

Get bent!
 
Where are all of the "real" important people in Mikey's administration: Willie Gibbs, Suzy Seastrom, and the rest? Do they even matter? No nosie from the new and improved "Communications Office"...as the song goes"Is that all there is" only information from our State newspapers, the local rag doesn't have a clue to whats happening around them. At least a well infromed data sourse shpuld be established to inform the "common folkes" as to whats been happening to our lab....it's time that everyone involved step up and informs us the (stake-holders) in all of this the real truth or at least som half truths as to the future, the funding , the FTE estimates for the next FY, and what is Mikey's bunch doing? .....I know this is all wishfull thinking but what the heck, we at least have blogg, and I'll bet some of the top dogs read it ,,,,,from other computer's then their own...more on this later..
 
A political decision? Is this the same as getting one last kick in the teeth…complements of the University of California and the California congressional delegation. You bet! The NIF decision in the early 90s was the same deal. California got what it wanted then as now, and New Mexico got what it deserved then as now—a kick in teeth for believing UC didn't favor the home team when it came time for the big game. We were naive at best. No, in actuality we were just plain stupid.
 
Regarding the title of this post:

NNSA was only demonstrating incompetence in awarding the RRW to LLNL if the decision is not part of a larger big-picture plan to eventually justify shutting down LANL. Otherwise, NNSA is simply carrying out a scripted plan.

Face it: one of LANL's two remaining raisons d'exister, weapons design, has now been eliminated.

Pit production isn't looking too good either, not that it ever was all that attractive.
 
Not content with demoralizing and destroying the conventional military forces, Pelosi and Read are now bent on also destroying America's nuclear deterrent.

Democrats - the enemy within.
 
There is a ton of materials science, chemistry, corrosion, and mechanical engineering involved in pit production. There will be many hundreds of millions flowing like water into that arena. I realize that many of you have always treated that world as blue-collar and beneath you. Well get in line to be part of that challange or shut up and get off the damn hill. We don't need you dragging it down and obviously you can't win the fixed competion with others. This is what is left, I suggest that you get about the business of making it better. I know many staff in the other areas at the lab and they are really smart, talented, and hard-working folks. Sorry to say that they need to change their career if they are to stay here. I would welcome them into our Pit Production/Certification/Surveillance world. It has more challanges than you give it credit.
 
Obviously, 3/03/2007 3:19 PM (Anonymous, what else?) is a head-in-the-sand Republican, who can't deal with the destruction his precious wartime President has handed LANL, the country, and the world. (I say head-in-the-sand out of sheer politeness, as is my wont.) He's done a faith-based face-plant.

-Son of Oppy
 
While anger and frustration are apparent from what has been written, I sensed little embarrassment, only a desire to somehow punish those who made a difficult decision about how to go forward.
This country needs to find a better path forward than the LEP process, which keeps thousands of aging warheads in reserve and will surely bankrupt the nuclear weapons program. The RRW approach provides such a path forward. Lack of enhanced surety needs to be addressed, and creating a more efficient and responsive infrastructure is also a key goal. Some of the materials and processes used, for example, in the planned W76 LEP are poor long-term choices. Realizing substantial reductions of stockpiled systems (both active and reserve) and providing viable alternatives to the current weapon stockpile can be accomplished with RRW.
Perhaps, as a member of the LANL RRW team, the anonymous writer will realize that the team can continue to be part of finding solutions to the national RRW challenges. The national security mission remains.
 
LANL isn't part of anybody's team. LANL is the pet whipping boy of DOE, NNSA, and Congress.

The reason, as has been made abundantly clear: LANL is on a list of redundant DOE facilities to be shut down.

LANL staff have endured increasingly inept, corrupt management in recent years, and as a result there has been an exodus of much of its best talent, and those that remain are pretty well burned out.

So, please take your 'Rah, Rah' talk over to LLNL. There isn't much of a market for it here.
 
As the writer of the original post, I am embarrassed. I'm embarrassed that I actually believed the United States Government when it said RRW was a competition to be judged on technical merit. There were many independent reviews (5 according to my count) that all placed us equal or above the LLNL effort. We gave more than you can imagine of our personal lives and energy to win. And, we did. That wasn't the allowed outcome however, because it doesn't work for the no-lab-left-behind strategy.

You bet I'm angry and if you bought that RRW-2 is our consolation prize you are as foolish as I was.

I am a hard core believer in the nuclear stockpile and the purpose it serves. I believe that our nation is playing a dangerous game of politics by banking our future on LLNL. May sound bitter, but their proposal does not meet the needs of the customer. The stockpile is no longer there to protect us, it is now a make work program.

There is no weapons future at LANL. Hate to say it, but reality just knocked a few of my teeth out.
 
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
 
We've all heard about votes that picked the Los Alamos design (POG, SAGSAT, NWC, etc.) over Livermore's. Is there any means to actually obtain the results of the votes (voters and how they voted) instead of relying on hearsay?
 
3/04/2007 4:02 PM

You wern't kissing the right ass.
 
As an LANL RRW team member, I can say the LANL team gave this competition all we had. We contended with many challenges -- technical, political, and managerial -- and still came very close to winning. If fact, we did win with the customer.

This decision is a watershed. It marks when the DOE/NNSA finally laid down any last pretense of integrity, scientific or otherwise.

It marks when the best (only) remaining capability in the U.S. to meet modern requirements with a robust and innovative nuclear weapons design became irrelevant.

It marks when LANS senior management enriched and aggrandized itself at the nation's expense -- and showed where its true loyalties lie.
 
Post a Comment



<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?