Weapons-grade nuclear material moved from Los Alamos to boost security, save money | VailDaily.com

Weapons-grade nuclear material moved from Los Alamos to boost security, save money

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The federal government has finished moving its most sensitive weapons-grade nuclear material from a Los Alamos National Laboratory technical area to more secure sites, a lab spokesman said Thursday.The weapons-grade plutonium and highly enriched uranium are no longer within the lab’s Technical Area 18, a site at the bottom of a steep canyon that critics said was vulnerable to a terrorist attack. The first shipment was moved a little over a year ago.The transfers were driven by changing threats following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and cost-saving efforts, lab spokesman Kevin Roark said.Officials at Los Alamos, which has been rocked by fiscal and security lapses, have said they could keep nuclear material secure at Technical Area 18, but at a high cost.The material was moved to the Nevada Test Site, the Y-12 National Security Complex at Oak Ridge, Tenn., and the lab’s Technical Area 55, the National Nuclear Security Administration said.The Project on Government Oversight – a nonprofit, nonpartisan government watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. – praised the material transfer but said it should have been completed sooner.The T-18 area dates back to World War II efforts to develop the atomic bomb and originally was used to conduct criticality experiments – figuring out how much nuclear material was needed to produce a nuclear explosion, Roark said.The NNSA plans to move all nuclear materials out of T-18 by 2008.Vail, Colorado

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