U.S. Energy Dept. Seeks $8.3 Billion for 2015 Nuclear-Arsenal Work

Officials from the National Nuclear Security Administration and the national labs meet to discuss ongoing projects last June. The Energy Department's semi-autonomous agency is seeking to spend $8.3 billion in fiscal 2015 for nuclear-arsenal activities.
National Journal
Rachel Oswald
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Rachel Oswald
March 5, 2014, 7:04 a.m.

The En­ergy De­part­ment is seek­ing $8.3 bil­lion in fisc­al 2015 funds for nuc­le­ar-ar­sen­al activ­it­ies — a pro­posed $534 mil­lion in­crease over cur­rent fisc­al-year levels.

The de­part­ment’s total budget pro­pos­al for the semi­autonom­ous Na­tion­al Nuc­le­ar Se­cur­ity Ad­min­is­tra­tion is $11.7 bil­lion, which in­cludes $1.4 bil­lion for nav­al atom­ic propul­sion sys­tems, ac­cord­ing to a Tues­day agency press re­lease. The next fisc­al year starts Oct. 1.

“The [fisc­al 2015] re­quest provides the re­sources we need to mod­ern­ize and main­tain an aging nuc­le­ar weapons stock­pile and sup­port­ing in­fra­struc­ture,” Act­ing NNSA Ad­min­is­trat­or Bruce Held said in provided com­ments.

Some $2.7 bil­lion of this year’s budget re­quest would go to­ward re­fur­bish­ing aging U.S. war­heads, in­clud­ing the B-61 grav­ity bomb. An ad­di­tion­al $1.7 bil­lion would be al­loc­ated to the “sci­ence, tech­no­logy and en­gin­eer­ing base” con­duct­ing war­head life-ex­ten­sion re­search activ­it­ies, ac­cord­ing to the re­lease.

About $2.4 bil­lion would be ded­ic­ated to mod­ern­iz­ing the Na­tion­al Nuc­le­ar Se­cur­ity Ad­min­is­tra­tion’s “nuc­le­ar se­cur­ity cap­ab­il­it­ies,” in­clud­ing fur­ther design work for the Urani­um Pro­cessing Fa­cil­ity at the Y-12 com­plex in Ten­ness­ee.

The re­ques­ted $335 mil­lion for the urani­um-en­rich­ment fa­cil­ity would be an in­crease over en­acted fisc­al 2014 levels, which at dif­fer­ent times have been said to be $309 mil­lion or $326 mil­lion, ac­cord­ing to the Knoxville News-Sen­tinel.

At the same time, the En­ergy De­part­ment is moth­balling an un­com­pleted South Car­o­lina mixed-ox­ide fuel fab­ric­a­tion fa­cil­ity, which was in­ten­ded to turn ex­cess plutoni­um in­to nuc­le­ar-re­act­or ma­ter­i­al.

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