SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 1 TOP OF DOC23356
[H.A.S.C. No. 10922]
NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT
FOR FISCAL YEAR 2006
OVERSIGHT OF PREVIOUSLY AUTHORIZED PROGRAMS
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED NINTH CONGRESS
STRATEGIC FORCES SUBCOMMITTEE HEARING
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCON
DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY'S ATOMIC ENERGY DEFENSE ACTIVITIES
MARCH 2, 2005
STRATEGIC FORCES SUBCOMMITTEE
TERRY EVERETT, Alabama, Chairman
MAC THORNBERRY, Texas
TRENT FRANKS, Arizona
MICHAEL TURNER, Ohio
MIKE ROGERS, Alabama
JOE SCHWARZ, Michigan
CATHY McMORRIS, Washington
GEOFF DAVIS, Kentucky
SILVESTRE REYES, Texas
JOHN SPRATT, South Carolina
LORETTA SANCHEZ, California
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCELLEN O. TAUSCHER, California
RICK LARSEN, Washington
JIM COOPER, Tennessee
Bill Ostendorff, Professional Staff Member
Hugh Brady, Professional Staff Member
Katherine Croft, Staff Assistant
C O N T E N T S
CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF HEARINGS
Wednesday, March 2, 2005, Fiscal Year 2006 National Defense Authorization ActDepartment of Energy's Atomic Energy Defense Activities
Wednesday, March 2, 2005
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 2, 2005
FISCAL YEAR 2006 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACTDEPARTMENT OF ENERGY'S ATOMIC ENERGY DEFENSE ACTIVITIES
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSTATEMENTS PRESENTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
Everett, Hon. Terry, a Representative from Alabama, Chairman, Strategic Forces Subcommittee
Reyes, Hon. Silvestre, a Representative from Texas, Ranking Member, Strategic Forces Subcommittee
Brooks, Ambassador Linton, Administrator, National Nuclear Security Administration, Department of Energy
Golan, Hon. Paul M., Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management, Department of Energy
[The prepared statements can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Brooks, Ambassador Linton
Everett, Hon. Terry
Golan, Hon. Paul M.
Reyes, Hon. Silvestre
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[The Documents submitted can be viewed in the hard copy.]
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[The Questions and Answers can be viewed in the hard copy.]
FISCAL YEAR 2006 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACTDEPARTMENT OF ENERGY'S ATOMIC ENERGY DEFENSE ACTIVITIES
House of Representatives,
Committee on Armed Services,
Strategic Forces Subcommittee,
Washington, DC, Wednesday, March 2, 2005.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 2:04 p.m., in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. Terry Everett (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. TERRY EVERETT, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM ALABAMA, CHAIRMAN, STRATEGIC FORCES SUBCOMMITTEE
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. EVERETT. The hearing will come to order.
The committee meets today to receive testimony on the Department of Energy's fiscal year 2006 budget request for atomic energy defense activities.
Thank you all for coming.
I welcome Ambassador Linton Brooks, administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), and Mr. Paul Golan, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management (E.M.) of the Department of Energy (DOE).
Ambassador Brooks will cover the NNSA budget request for fiscal year 2006. The NNSA request is just over $9 billion.
Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary Golan will provide testimony for the Department of Energy's request for defense environmental management. The environmental management budget request is just over $6 billion.
We have a lot of ground to cover today. In addition to that, we are expecting votes about 2:45 today. And I want to allow all members as much opportunity as possible to ask questions, so I will be brief.
Likewise, I ask that our witnesses please be brief with their prepared remarks. The entirety of your written testimony will be entered into the record.
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
This session is open under Rule nine of committee. I would ask members for their cooperation in keeping their line of questioning unclassified.
I have scheduled a separate classified subcommittee session for next Thursday morning to go into certain classified issues relating to Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP) and the Reliable Replacement Warhead.
Ambassador Brooks, I would like to highlight a few specific areas that I and the committee are specifically interested in hearing about today.
As you recall, Mr. Reyes, the committee's ranking member, joined me in a letter to the Secretary of Energy last August requesting an independent review of Federal oversight of security at labs following last summer's Los Alamos security incident. I look forward to hearing of the progress in improving Federal oversight of security by your NNSA workforce.
The budget request funds for a responsive infrastructure to support our future stockpile. One specific program of interest is the Reliable Replacement Warhead program. I look forward again to hearing your vision of what this program will involve.
Last year this committee authorized funds for RNEP after a good debate. Based on numerous press reports, I think there is a general lack of understanding about the RNEP study. We will face this issue again this year, and I hope we can clarify what the RNEP study is about for our members.
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Deputy Assistant Secretary Golan, I am specifically interested in hearing about the following:
Last year this committee drafted legislation, the fiscal year 2005 defense bill, that clarified the standards of waste incidental to reprocessing the spent nuclear fuel at the Savannah River and Idaho cleanup sites.
We are very interested in hearing about how that cleanup is proceeding.
I understand the legal uncertainty in the state of Washington that has resulted in the reduction of funding for Hanford cleanup. I would like to hear the details behind the Hanford cleanup.
I now recognize my good friend and college, Mr. Reyes, the ranking member of the subcommittee for any comments.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Everett can be viewed in the hard copy.]
STATEMENT OF HON. SILVESTRE REYES, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM TEXAS, RANKING MEMBER, STRATEGIC FORCES SUBCOMMITTEE
Mr. REYES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I join you in welcoming Ambassador Brooks and Mr. Golan before our subcommittee here today.
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The NNSA is responsible for maintaining our nuclear deterrent and is a key player in reducing the spread of nuclear weapons and materials such as that throughout the world.
Many people do not realize it, but the NNSA budget for nonproliferation is about three times the size of the more widely known Nunn-Lugar program in the Department of Defense.
In today's world, nonproliferation is the front line of our nation's defense, and Ambassador Brooks and his organization are manning that front line.
Secretary Golan has a formidable task of managing the cleanup of millions of gallons and hundreds of tons of highly radioactive waste throughout the country. His is one of the toughest and probably, I would say, most thankless jobs here in Washington.
I thank both of them as our distinguished witnesses for taking time from their schedules to be with us here today and offer us this valuabletheir valuable testimony.
In deference to our chairman, I also want to move right into a couple of the different areas that I hope the witnesses will address in their opening statements.
Three basic topics that I consider particularly important, the first one: Like the chairman, I remain concerned about the security at the NNSA complex. And so, Ambassador Brooks, I hope you will update us on the steps being taken to improve security, not just as Los Alamos but throughout the NNSA system. The primary reason Congress established the semi-autonomous NNSA was to improve security at our key nuclear installations. So this tells me that this must continue to be one of the top priorities for NNSA.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Second, explain to us the mission of the new Reliable Replacement Warhead program. Is this program going to simply duplicate existing warheads? Or will it lead to new warhead types? Will this program lead to changes to any of our current delivery systems? The Congress clearly intended it to not lead to a resumption of underground nuclear testing. But is there any chance that this may be the result nonetheless.
And third, the cleanup budget request for the Hanford site is $273 million, which is about 12.8 percent below the FY 2005 level. Mr. Golan, we would like for you to explain the reason for this reduction. And specifically we will want to know the extent to which this reduction is linked to the ambiguous legal status of DOE Order 435.1, which attempts to clarify the issue of what is and what is not high-level waste.
Mr. Chairman, I also want to thank you for convening this hearing. The Department of Defense budget in this request is almost $420 billion, far greater than the $16.4 billion being requested for the Department of Energy's national security programs. But the NNSA and DOE programs are critical to our national security, and it is important that we not overlook them.
Finally, we will probably renew, as you have stated in your comments, our now annual debate on the robust nuclear earth penetrator when we get to the question and answer portion of today's hearing. But even when we may disagree about an issue, I certainly appreciate the fact that you ensure our subcommittee operates fairly, Mr. Chairman. And I also take pride that our members, following your lead, can disagree over an issue in a very agreeable manner.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC This is the first hearing for our subcommittee this year. And as always, I look forward to working closely with you, Mr. Chairman, and for us to have a productive year.
So I appreciate the opportunity.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Reyes can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. EVERETT. Thank you for those remarks, Mr. Reyes, I appreciate it.
Before we turn the floor over to Ambassador Brooks, let me remind members that we will be under the five-minute rule. I think that works best. We have done that in the past, although there have been exceptions to it.
But this hearing, and the fact that I think we are going to have votes about 2:45, the first vote, I think we should operate under the five-minute rule.
Ambassador Brooks, the floor is yours.
STATEMENT OF AMBASSADOR LINTON BROOKS, ADMINISTRATOR, NATIONAL NUCLEAR SECURITY ADMINISTRATION, DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY
Ambassador BROOKS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I thank all the members for their past support of our important programs.
As the chairman indicated, I have submitted a detailed statement, and I just want to provide highlight comments.
The National Nuclear Security Administration has three complementary missions: We are supposed to keep the safety, security, reliability and effectiveness of the nation's nuclear stockpile high; we are supposed to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction, primarily nuclear weapons; and we are supposed to support the nuclear propulsion needs of the U.S. Navy.
To do that, we are asking for $9.4 billion this year. That is an increase of about 2.5 percent over last year's appropriation, but in fact it is a small decrease in operating levels for most programs.
In his State of the Union address, the President underscored the need to restrain spending. And to support the President's goal, many programs in our budget are funded at levels less than we projected last year.
The major exceptions are those nonproliferation programs that directly affect homeland security. The President proposes to increase funding for nonproliferation in NNSA by 15 percent, and that increase is targeted for research on proliferation detection technologies and for programs to improve the security of weapons material and to detect such material in transit. As was mentioned in the opening remarks, we are requesting about $1.6 billion for this effort. There are substantial additional details on our nonproliferation program in my written statement.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
For weapons work, we are requesting $6.6 billion. Our request emphasizes the programs called for in the President's Nuclear Posture Review, and it supports the infrastructure that has to be responsive to new and emerging threats.
Our request supports the President's plan for reductions to between 1,700 and 2,200 operationally deployed strategic weapons, or strategic warheads, by 2012, as was agreed to in the Treaty of Moscow. But it also preserves the ability to respond quickly to surprise events in the future.
In June of last year, I submitted a classified report to the Congress, a revised nuclear weapons stockpile plan, that lays out our approach to meeting the President's goal of a major reduction in the total stockpile by 2012. The plans we set forth in that report remain in effect.
I said we had to ensure the safety, security and reliability of nuclear weapons. I am pleased that we continue to have the ability to certify to the President that our weapons are safe, secure and reliable, and that we can do so without underground nuclear testing.
We use scientific and engineering tools, laboratory tests and the judgment and expertise of our scientists to continually improve our understanding of the stockpile, of the effects of aging and of the effectiveness of our life-extension programs. The tools provided in this budget, if approved, will allow us to continue those certification efforts with high confidence.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Now, while there is no reason to doubt the ability of the stockpile stewardship program to ensure the safety, security and reliability of the deterrent, we believe the Nation must be prepared to carry out an underground nuclear test in the event of unforeseen problems that cannot be resolved by other means.
I want to stress we have no plans to carry out such tests, we have no expectation of a need to carry out such a test. But consistent with the law, we are improving our readiness posture to be able to carry out such a test within 18 months of the President's decision to do so. There is $25 million for that in this budget, and that will allow us to reach the 18-month readiness posture by September of 2006.
Although our focus is on and must be on the safety, security and reliability of the current stockpile, we are also looking ahead. We are continuing to refurbish and extend the life of warheads. And that program, the so-called life-extension program, is going well.
We completed the W87, an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) warhead, life-extension program in September of last year. And we will be beginning to turn out extended life refurbished, if you will, weapons for the B61 bomb, the W76 submarine-launched warhead, and the W80 cruise missile warhead all over the next three years and all consistent with the schedules requested by the Department of Defense.
We are also producing tritium for the first time since 1988, and the facility to extract that tritium from the rods in which it has produced is located at Savannah River, and it is on timeis ahead of schedule, rather, and it is under budget.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The chairman mentioned that a relatively small, $4 million, portion of our budget request was likely to engage a good deal of the discussion today, and that is the robust nuclear earth penetrator feasibility and cost study.
After the Congress failed to fund this last year, we consulted with the Secretary of Defense to see if he and the department believed that it was still necessary to proceed with this study. The Secretary of Defense, after studying the issue personally, requested that we do so.
I want to emphasize that we are asking for funds to complete the study; that unlike our proposals of the past, we are asking to analyze only one weapon rather than two; and that unlike last year, we are not providing any funds in our five-year projection beyond the study.
Last year, we allowed the erroneous impression to form that we had made decisions to produce this weaponthat is not trueand to avoid that impression, we have clarified it in our budget submission.
Currently there are military targets that are important that are beyond the reach of American power. And the Administration and the Congress need to jointly decide whether that is an acceptable situation, or whether we should enhance deterrents by providing a capability to hold such targets at risk. Completing the cost and feasibility study will allow that debate to be based on firm understanding of what is technically feasible. As the chairman mentioned, we will be providing some classified details on this program to the committee next week.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
In 2005, the Congress appropriated $9 million for a program called Reliable Replacement Warhead. This is a concept to decide whether or not we can relax some of the Cold War-designed constraints, such as very high yield-to-weight ratios and, therefore, as part of our life-extension efforts, provide replacements for existing weapons that would be more easy to manufacture and would be less susceptible to the unanalyzed effects of aging and thus less likely to require nuclear testing.
In fact, not only will this program not result in nuclear testing, it will decrease the chances that we will have ambiguities in performance that might otherwise call us to consider that.
We believe that this concept, which is in its early stages of development, has the potential to allow us to extend the capabilities of existing warheads without new delivery systemsthere are no new delivery systems contemplated in thisand without new weapons.
I would like to turn to one or two specific issues that have been of concern to the Congress in the past. One of the important components of stockpile stewardship is the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore. We are stressing in this year's budget making our goal of conducting an ignition experiment in 2010. To do that, with the constraints that I mentioned earlier, we have had to reduce other inertial confinement fusion work at other laboratories.
We will be sending a detailed report to the committee on our revised plans later in the year.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Last year the Congress prohibited us from making a selection for a site for the so-called Modern Pit Facility (MPF), a facility that will allow us to refurbish and remanufacture warhead pits.
We are requesting in this budget $7.7 million to continue design work, and I believe it is important that the prohibition against site selection not continue into the coming year.
We are, as you know, on an interim basis, establishing a capability at Los Alamos. We continue to believe, even with the shutdown, that we will certify a war reserve pit by 2007, as we have told the Congress in the past.
The Nuclear Posture Review gave great emphasis to a responsive infrastructure. And it is my personal view that the dramatic reductions in total stockpile the President approved last year can be still further reduced if we are able to craft an infrastructure that lets us respond.
What we hope to be able to do is put our hedge against the unforeseen, not in spare warheads that we keep but in infrastructure capability.
The first step in doing this, of course, is to correct the problems of the past, and we are doing so through our facilities and infrastructure recapitalization program.
This committee has been supportive of that effort in the past, and I hope you will continue to be so.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Safeguards and security, as the chairman mentioned, is an important issue. You can see how important we take it by the fact that the 2001 budget was $400 million, and what we are asking for this year is $740 million.
We are on track to meet the greater requirements of the Design Basis Threat by the end of 2006.
We are still working on thethat is the May 2003 design basis threatwe are still working on our plans to achieve the greater design basis threat promulgated in October of last year by 2008. We will have details later. The budget request I believe is fully adequate to support our reaching that. What is at issue is the 2007 budget.
We have made a number of improvements in the readiness of our protective forces.
We have begun moving material from the Technical-Area 18 (TA18) site at Los Alamos to the Nevada test site.
We have accelerated the construction of the highly enriched uranium storage facility in the Y12 area.
We have solved the classified material control problems at Los Alamos.
And I am more confident in the security of our sites today than at any time since I took over.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
This budget requests a change in responsibilities for environmental management activities at NNSA sites. Mr. Golan and I have agreed, and the former secretary approved, the notion that I should assume responsibility for legacy management at NNSA sites. This is entirely for reasons of command and control.
Under the NNSA act, we were putting Mr. Golan in the impossible position of being responsible for something, but being legally barred from giving orders about it. I would not accept that if I were him, and there is no reason he should. This budget will correct that.
I want to make just three points, because I know some members may be concerned about this. We have looked at a number of other options. We are convinced this is the best. The environmental program will be carriedthere is a separate line item to make sure that we keep visibility on it. It will be managed exactly the same way that the very successful infrastructure recapitalization program has been managed. And this is a zero-sum effort with no net increase in the overall budget. I think this transfer is crucial, and I hope the committee will support it.
I want to conclude by discussing some management issues. And the most obvious one is the problems of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
July of last year, the laboratory direction imposed a stand-down on essentially everything at the laboratory other than those things immediately necessary for health and safety. He did so because of a series of problems, the most visible of which was the inability to locate two classified disks, but the most serious of which was a series of safety problems. And while a thorough investigation by the FBI and by us has confirmed that the so-called missing disks never existed, that investigation also showed that there were serious problems with the management of safety and security.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Operations have now resumed. The laboratory did an extremely good job at identifying problems. They are nowthey took those problems which had to be fixed before they could resume operations and fixed them. Those of a more long-term nature have been put into a steady program, and we are monitoring the corrective action.
I have provided the committee with a copy of the report of this incident that the former deputy secretary and I submitted, and as the committee is aware, as a result of it, we imposed a significant fee penalty on the University of California.
I was concernedand in the opening statements, both the chairman and the ranking member expressed their concernthat the Federal oversight system had recognized all of the safety problems with very few of the security problems. The committee has received a copy of an independent assessment done by the Office of Safety and Security Performance Assurance. I agree with the contents of that assessment.
Our problems were caused by several things. First, they were caused by leadership failures. Second, they were caused by inadequate numbers of trained Federal security expert. Third, they were caused by a difference in oversight approach, where in safety we got out and looked at facilities, and in security we stayed in offices. And finally, I had failed to provide adequate support for my site offices from headquarters. We are in the process of implementing corrective actions in each area, and I will keep the committee informed of our progress.
I am pleased to tell the committee that the plan I announced in 2002 to reorganize NNSA and eliminate a layer of management was completed on schedule in September, and I am generally pleased with the function of the new service center and streamlined command relationships we have put in place.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. Chairman, the President's budget request reflects our strong commitment to national security, and it will support continuing our progress and protecting and certifying our deterrent, reducing the danger from proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and enhancing the force projection capabilities of the Navy.
It will meet the national security needs of the 21st century, and I hope the committee will support it.
After you have heard from Mr. Golan, I will look forward to your questions, sir.
[The prepared statement of Ambassador Brooks can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. EVERETT. Thank you, Ambassador Brooks.
Assistant Secretary Golan, you may proceed, please.
STATEMENT OF HON. PAUL M. GOLAN, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT, DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY STATEMENT OF LINTON BROOKS
Secretary GOLAN. Thank you, Chairman Everett and members of the subcommittee.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
This is my first opportunity to appear before this committee, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the committee for the tremendous support it is given to the accelerated cleanup program, one that we think we have revitalized and reformed this cleanup program that during the 1990's had lost track of its objectives.
Over the last four years, our goal has been simple: transform this program from one that managed risk to one that reduces risk and cleans up the environment, a program that delivers real cleanup, that is safe for the workers, protective of the environment and respectful of the taxpayers.
Over the last four years, we have gotten our sights focused on this goal and these objectives. While my written statement, which I would like to submit for the record, articulates a more complete listing of the accomplishments of the tens and thousands of men and women who work day in and day out at this program, and I would just like to take a couple of minutes now to highlight a few of the accomplishments we have made over the last four years.
At the Savannah River site, we have completed the plutonium stabilization and residue stabilization missions. We have consolidated all the spent nuclear fuel into a single storage basin. And just yesterday we were able to actually complete de-inventory of the FB line, which was once a major nuclear facility at the Savannah River site.
At Hanford we removed all the fuel from the leak-prone K basins. We have completed pumping all the probable liquids out of the single-shell tanks on the Columbia River. And additionally, our special nuclear material and residue stabilization missions are completed at that site.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
At Idaho, we have transferred into dry storage, or put into the most robust storage basin, all of the spent fuel at the site, and are actually starting to de-inventory the old fuel basins of water, which is a real risk to the Snake River aquifer.
Last year, we took down over a quarter-million square feet of old and aging infrastructure, and it is that infrastructure that we will not have to keep on our books and maintain anymore.
At Rocky Flats, we completed demolition of two major nuclear facilities last year. These two facilities, in and of themselves, were legacies of the Cold War.
Building 771, which was once considered the most dangerous building in America, has been demolished, and a green hillside now is the only remnant of where it is left. Building 707, the facility that manufactured every pit in the nuclear weapons inventory today, was completely demolished in December. We are on track to meet our commitments at Rocky Flats and close Rocky Flats on time.
At Ohio, we have completed demolition of our last uranium processing facilities, and at the Mound site we completed demolition of tritium facilities.
In the area of safeguards and security, which is an interest Ambassador Brooks and I share, we have been busy consolidating our special nuclear materials, and we have reduced by half the number of nuclear material storage vaults that have materials.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC By the end of fiscal year 2006 we should be down to three storage vaults across the entire E.M. complex, down from 14 where we were three years ago.
I would like now to discuss the Administration's fiscal year 2006 budget for the cleanup program, how we plan to use the taxpayers' investment to continue to deliver risk reduction and environmental remediation.
The future success of our program depends on elements that we have put in place, such as continuing to improve worker safety, where our goal is to eliminate accidents and injuries from the workforce; continuing to work with our local communitiestribal nations, regulators and elected representatives; and it depends on continuing to challenge our contractors to work smarter and safer through our contracts at our sites and continuing to bring competition to our work.
Our future success depends on us rising to meet new challenges and demands that includes finding waste disposition pathways where those waste disposition pathways do not exist today.
Our future success depends on us resolving important waste determination issues and will require us to work closely with our regulators in South Carolina and Idaho, as well as the Nuclear Regulatory Commission going forward.
Our future success is going to depend on our ability to resolve seismic issues that we recently discovered at the Waste Treatment Plant at our Hanford site as we design and construct a facility that will deal with the millions of gallons of waste there.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Some people say we have yet to tackle our most difficult issues. A program as large and complex as the environmental management program, we should expect to see issues every day. Our job is to find those problems and to solve them.
We did not want to have a cleanup program that took longer than the Cold Warthe origin of our work. We needed to establish a culture of urgency, to complete the work rather than to make additional investments in our aging infrastructure that had already passed its design life.
And we needed to establish a clear and unambiguous vision of risk reduction and actual completion of the cleanup.
We have taken these steps to reduce the risk and not just to manage them. Our aim is to complete cleanup at our sites that is fully protective of the future land use, working with our communities and stakeholders day in and day out to ensure all interests are addressed, as that is crucial for our success going forward. I ask for your support for our 2006 budget request of $6.5 billion to continue on the success where we have delivered.
In 2006, examples of some key milestones, including deactivating of the F canyon at the Savannah River site, thereby reducing a large fixed cost; removing the sludge from the K basins at Hanford and reducing the risk on the Columbia River; completing our cleanup at Rocky Flats and Ashtabula Mound in Columbus; completing transuranic waste retrieval from pit four at the Idaho national laboratory, which is a significant source term on the Snake River aquifer; completing our cleanup of the Melton Valley project at Oak Ridge; eliminating a source term in close proximity to the Clinch River; and continuing to eliminate our highly secured material access areas, further reducing our fixed cost and decreasing our security vulnerabilities.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Last year brought events that made future cleanup progress more certain in some areas and less certain in others.
I am prepared to discuss with the subcommittee our progress in moving forward with the 3116 legislation at Idaho and South Carolina as well as the uncertainties that we are working through at Hanford.
I look forward to working with this committee and others to achieve these goals.
Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Secretary Golan can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. EVERETT. Thank you, Secretary Golan.
I will remind the committee again that we are under the 5-minute rule.
Mr. Reyes, will you continue?
Mr. REYES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ambassador Brooks, since there are two variables that determine the future rate of pit productionand those are size of the stockpile and expected lifetime of our current pitsthe lower the size of the stockpile and the longer our current pits will last, the lower the annual production rate will have to be, and the converse is also true.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Can you give us a status report on the pit lifetime experiments that we are currently conducting?
Ambassador BROOKS. Yes, sir. As you know, our estimates are that pit lifetime is somewhere between 45 and 60 years. The concern is that as radioactive decay occurs, the mechanical properties of the plutonium will change so that it will not implode in a way that we fully understand.
We are doing accelerated aging experiments. We hope to have preliminary results late next year.
We do not know enough now to say anything more than 45 to 60 years. In a report we recently submitted to Congress, we indicated that if lifetime turns out to be near 60 years, that the through-put for the modern pit facility would not need to be more 125 pits per year. If it is shorter, it will need to be more.
In addition to, the two variables that you mentioned there is a third, and that is when we actually build the modern pit facility. Because the newest pit in the United States was built in 1989. And it is not just the steady-state through-put, but you have to take everything you have and put it through before those lives expire.
So let us say we build the pit facility around 2020, 30 years after the newest pit, if it turns out that the lifetime is 45 years, you have to get everything through the first time in a 15-year period, and then after that you drop down.
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
That is the reason why a delay in the approval of the modern pit facility could lead to a requirement for it to have a larger capacity than would otherwise be appropriate. Although, obviously this all depends crucially on the two variables you cited: the ultimate size of the stockpile and the pit lifetime.
Mr. REYES. So if the annual production rate for the MPF, as you said, it is supposed to be between 100 and I think you said 125?
Ambassador BROOKS. One hundred twenty-five is the lowest level analyzed in the environmental impact statement, and I think it is unlikely that we would see something much lower.
My guess is, as a practical matter, it is going to end up somewhere between that and the low 200s, but we do not know yet.
Mr. REYES. To what stockpile does that correspond?
Ambassador BROOKS. That corresponds to the 2012 stockpile approved by the President with some assumptions that I would prefer not to go into in open session about modest, further reductions.
Mr. REYES. And would that also include both deployed and reserved warheads?
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Ambassador BROOKS. Yes, sir, that includes everything.
Mr. REYES. Everything.
Ambassador BROOKS. As long as you are going to keep them, you have to do something with the pits, assuming we are correct about the phenomena of aging.
Mr. REYES. All right.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. EVERETT. Mr. Thornberry.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
First, Ambassador Brooks, let me compliment you on the written statement you provided to the committee.
I remember when we wrote the NNSA act, one major provision was to try to have increased budget transparency on the NNSA's budget. It used to be like pulling teeth to get some of the information that you have in the charts in the back, and I just want to express my appreciation for not having to pull teeth to get them.
I guess I want to start with kind of a broader budget question related to the complex.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
As I glance through the site-by-site numbers here, it looks like just about every major site, except for Los Alamos, goes down a little bit from last year.
And then you talked, rightfully, about the increased security needs, particularly as we meet the Design Basis Threat in the future.
It looks to me like there is somewhat of a squeeze going on where a little less money but a little more demands on security, if nothing else. Are we squeezing? And do you see kind of a little pressure coming from both sides extending into the future?
Ambassador BROOKS. I believe that we have some difficult issues facing us in the 2007 budget. I do not believe we have difficult issues facing us here.
In October of last year, the former secretary approved an increase in the Design Basis Threat. I would be delighted to talk to the committee about it, but I am not able to say a whole lot about it in open session.
We are still working through the implications of that. It is a very conservative threat, and I do not want to suggest to anybody that the Nation is in danger. This is a very conservativeprudent but very conservative threat.
We put some money in the 2006 budget. We do not know how much we will need in the 2007 budget. My expectation is I will have some difficult decisions to make in trading off between security and program, and I do not quite knowI mean, the three variables are security, program and extend the due date, and I do not quite know how I am going to reconcile those.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
So I think there is pressure coming, and the solution is technology. As long as security means hiring more guards and getting more guns, then we are always going to be in this pressure.
What America does well is technology. We are beginning to deploy some things now, and we have some other things that we are looking at to try and beat down this long-term cost and ease the tension you referred to.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Well, we obviously want to be a part of those discussions, because I think you will come to us for the money for these various things.
I have some appreciation for the difficult decisions to which you refer.
Let me ask kind of a similar question in another little facet, and that is infrastructure, and you talked about it briefly in your opening statement.
If you go back over a number of years, what we did was neglect infrastructure so that we have had to kind of have an extra special effort to kind of make up for that neglect.
And I guess the concern for those of us who have been through those days is that we not allow that neglect to reappear, whether it is from other budgetary pressures or other things. We do not want to get back in a hole, in other words.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Is that something that you are concerned about?
Because the facilities recapitalization program was initially supposed to be a limited-time catch-up. Is it going to be limited time? How are we going to mesh those competing demands?
Ambassador BROOKS. Well, the Congress has made sure I do not mess up on that by mandating by law that that program goes away.
We have met our goal of stabilizing the backlog by 2005. Our second goal was to reduce to acceptable industry standards by 2009. Right now I expect we will not meet that goal, we will not reduce to industry standards until 2011. I do believe that we will complete the facilities infrastructure recapitalization program on schedule at 2011.
That is a get-well program. The basic question you are asking is, am I going to dig myself into a hole? I am trying very hard to make sure I do not. The people who work for me are very well committed. We are looking out multiple years to make sure that we are adequately funding infrastructure. So I am committed not to fall into that trap. But I suspect the people who fell into that trap were committed too. It is going to be difficult, and the Congress would be well advised to keep looking over our shoulder on this one.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Thank you.
Mr. EVERETT. Mr. Spratt?
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. SPRATT. Thank you both for your testimony.
Last summer in the Presidential debates, Senator Kerry and President Bush agreed on one particular thing, and that is, when asked the question, ''What do you think the gravest danger facing our country is?'' they both responded, ''nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists.''
As I look at your budget just in a very simplistic, programmatic way, you got $16.4 billion this year, I believe. And you have a bit more for nonproliferation activities, $1.6 billion, I think $214 million more than 2005. But that is still just 10 percent of your budget.
If that is indeed the gravest threat, do you think we are programmatically committing enough of our budget to deal with what is the gravest threat to the security of our country?
Ambassador BROOKS. I think we are. It has been true in the past that we have not been limited by available funds.
Now, I want to be candid: Some of that has been because the Congress has been extremely helpful to us, and occasionally, when we did not ask for enough, the Congress has corrected that oversight.
But nonetheless, we have not been limited by funding but by the difficulties in working cooperatively in the former Soviet Union, particularly Russia.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
And the problems there are on the one hand, ''Of course the Russians want to improve security,'' but they prefer to do it with as little access on the part of Americans as possible, and they have their own bureaucracy.
I think had the President not increased our budget this time, it would have been the first year I might have to tell you that we are limited by funding. But in protecting nuclear materials, I do not believe we are limited by funding. We are going to finish our work by 2008.
Mr. SPRATT. How about the mixed oxide (MOX) facility? That is one
Ambassador BROOKS. The MOX facility is a problem in two regards: One is that whileI think we are about to solve liability, I am acutely conscious of the fact that I told this committee that last year. And track records of Americans in predicting the Russian Federation are not really good.
Here is where we are after a lengthy period in which we and the Russians essentially were at an impasse, we have provided a new approach which we believe meets the Russian concerns.
At an additional meeting held 10 days ago, the Russians thought it met the Russian concerns.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I have people involvedand no disrespect to anybodywho are both Russians and lawyers, which means that they tend to take a little while to do things. But I think that we are near to having this problem solved.
We are near to having the construction authorization from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. I expect that this month. Although there is a recent announcement of a lawsuit, I do not believe that will have merit, but that is why courts
Mr. SPRATT. I asked yesterday, how much plutonium is stored at Savannah River site and the K reactor in anticipation of a MOX facility being built there?
Ambassador BROOKS. Yes. There is no plutonium actually at the K reactor. But in the K area storage facility, there is between five and 10 tons. I will be happy to provide you the exact number, but it is a classified number so I cannot do it in
Mr. SPRATT. Do you have anythere are some substantial penalties if you do not process that in a timely manner.
Ambassador BROOKS. The penalties kick-in if I am not able tothe penalties kick-in in 2011, at which point I have to either make MOX, take the plutonium back out of the state of South Carolinawhich is not particularly easy. I certainly cannot take it back to Rocky Flats, because, as Mr. Golan mentioned, it is closedor pay fines of $1 million a day capped at $100 million a year.
My preference is to be making MOX. We are in the process now of doing a scrub of the program. As you may know, we formally notified the Congress in February that we could no longer assure that we would meet the so-called MOX production objective in the law, which is a ton of MOX by January of 2009.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
We have six months to tell you what we are going to do about it, and we are trying to figure out what we are going to tell you.
I want to give you two messages: I really am hopefulI know I told you this last yearabout the Russians, and this Administration is absolutely committed this program.
Mr. THORNBERRY. Thank you.
Mr. EVERETT. Mr. Schwarz.
Mr. SCHWARZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
My question, no commentmy state of erudition on this subject is at a relatively low level right now but will not remain that forever. But I do have a couple of questions to follow up, actually, the discussion you just had with the gentleman from South Carolina.
Are any other nuclear powersFrance, Israel, the U.K. come to mind; Russia, we have just talked aboutare any of the other nuclear powers actively allied with us, with the United States, in seeking out perhaps rogue troves of nuclear weapons, seeking out the location of nuclear weapons in the former Soviet Union?
And if so, within the parameters of what you can say, is their help effective? Or are we out there hanging by ourselves in this effort?
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ambassador BROOKS. We are not hanging by ourselves in this effort. Our allies are contributing in a number of ways.
First, under the President's Proliferation Security Initiative, we have some I think the number is 38 nationsbut I will correct that for the record if I am remembering the number wrongwho work together among other things to try and interdict the illicit movement of nuclear material.
It was through Proliferation Security Initiative that we became aware of the situation in Libya, which led to the Libyan conclusion that the better part of their future was to get out of the nuclear business.
With regard to Russia particularly, our allies are active. There is a thing called the Global Partnership in which over 10 years the G8 nations plan to contribute $20 billionhalf of that from us, half of that from our alliesto improving primarily, but not exclusively, nuclear material security in the Russian Federation.
There is also some in the former Soviet Union.
Mr. Spratt mentioned the MOX program. The Russian MOX program will be funded through international contributions, about $850 million pledged already, and I am confident there will be more as soon as I finally get this liability issue behind me.
The British have contributed directly. The Congress was kind enough last year to allow me, on a program to shut down plutonium production, to accept direct contributions from other nations, essentially, and co-mingle it with our own funds. The British and the Canadians have already contributed money to that. It is going to the design of the shutdown of the reactor in a place called Zheleznogorsk.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Our allies are partly focused on some things I am not focused ondismantlement of general-purpose submarines and reduction in chemical effortsbut they also are doing thingsthe British have a program that is comparable to my Nuclear Cities Program.
We work together. We had a conference that my principal deputy attended in Switzerland to look at how we can get international support for shutting down plutonium-production reactors. We are required by Congress to have at least some international support.
This conference was mostly focused on the auxiliary stuff, the roads and that kind of thing.
So I think we are getting good support. The United States is bearing a lot of the burden because we are the world's leader.
Mr. SCHWARZ. So it would not be inaccurate to say that a pretty good job is being done to find any incipient A.Q. Khans out there and that the good guys are all over him like a cheap suit.
Ambassador BROOKS. We are trying very hard for that to be true.
I would urge you to hear from the intelligence community, which is the experts. I am knowledgeable, but it is not my area of my responsibility. But we are very seized with that. And particularly with the British and some of our other allies, our cooperation is extremely close in nuclear matters and in intelligence matters and pretty much anything.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. SCHWARZ. Thank you, sir.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. EVERETT. We have, I assume, two votes.
Mr. Larsen, I know you have some things you want to talk about. So why don't we go do the votes and then come back, and that will not rush you.
Is that okay? Is everybody agreeable?
So we are going to recess, pending returning from the votes.
Mr. EVERETT. We will reconvene the committee. Apparently the House is in recess till 3:15, so we can get in a couple more licks at you, Ambassador.
Mr. LARSEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ambassador Brooks and Secretary Golan, thanks for coming.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Secretary Golan, I do not want you to be lonely, so I have a few questions for you.
You can relax, Ambassador, a little bit.
First off, the budget that has been proposed by the President regarding the Hanford cleanup will notcan you just confirm this for me?will not move anybody out of compliance to the tri-party agreement that exists for Hanford cleanup, is that correct?
Secretary GOLAN. The budget that we submitted is compliant with the tri-party agreement.
Mr. LARSEN. Thanks.
You do, thoughthe Department has identified about $89 million of Hanford reduction is due to legal uncertainty. And I was hoping you can least, from a very basic sensegiven the 5-minute rule here, very basic senseexplain to the committee what these legal uncertainties are.
And as well, can you provide the committee with the list of activities that will not be done, what list of activities make up that $89 million?
And third, just confirm again we will be able to maintain the pace of the cleanup there at Hanford.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So the legal uncertainties, what are they? And then the $89 million, due to the uncertainty, what activities are not going to get done as a result?
Secretary GOLAN. Let me walk through this.
The first thing I would like to say is that the fiscal year 2006 budget request, over $1.8 billion for the cleanup of Hanford represents 27 percent of the entire E.M. budget.
Over the last 3 years, we have been able to do a lot of work at the Hanford site to actually take risk and cost out. I mentioned the K basin fuel project that is completed, the nuclear material stabilization project's been completed, the residue stabilization project's been completed. We have consolidated the special nuclear materials into the plutonium finish plant.
When we put together our budget for fiscal year 2006, across the entire complex we looked at two things: We looked at our baseline, and we looked at the probability of success across those areas.
In terms of the legal uncertainties associated with Hanford, the first has to do with the uncertainties associated with Initiative 297, which is known as the Cleanup Priorities Act, which may impact the Department's ability to close tanks.
We understand the initiative to basically not allow closure of any tanks until we are able to close all the tanks, which is not consistent with how the tri-party agreement envisions tank closures in terms of the amount of characterization and the sequence of closing tanks at the Hanford reservation.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
There is also legal uncertainties under what process we would use to close the tank at Hanford.
As you are aware, Washington State was not included in the 3116 legislation, and the options we have available for closing a tank at Hanford would be to use DOE Order 435.
We have been in court in the state of Idaho for us wanting to use DOE 435 to close a tank. While that case was ordered dismissed to the lower court, it was dismissed not on its merits but because it was not ripe. In other words, we had not made an effort to actually close a tank in that state using DOE Order 435.
So since we do not have 3116 and DOE Order 435 is the only method we would have to use to close a tank, and the fact that there is a court case, that provides some legal uncertainty on what would we use to close a tank, and then would we be able to close single tanks, or we would have to wait till all the tanks are ready to be closed at the Hanford reservation?
In terms of another uncertainty, in terms of removing waste tank material that is, it has to withwe believe that there are a number of tanks at Hanford that actually have transuranic waste in them.
There are about eight tanks out of the set that we believe have transuranic waste, which would, if it is transuranic waste, have the ability to dispose of that waste at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
In order to do that, as we submitted last year, we submitted a permit request to the state of New Mexico, which was approved, which we before contemplate disposing of transuranic waste from tanks down at WIPP, we would have to basically demonstrate to the regulators that this material is in fact transuranic waste.
We need to work with the regulators down in New Mexico, and we have a good track record of working with that. But that is something that is going to take a good deal of time. In fact, we anticipate it is going to take somewhere between 12 and 16 months in order to work that process as we found in the past when we were putting through major permit modifications through Hanfordexcuse medown at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.
If I look at the legal uncertainties and the activities that we are going to need to slow down at Hanford for tank closure, it represents about $70 million of the $90 million that is a difference from fiscal year 2005.
As far as the transuranic waste tanks, our removal and processing that waste for potentialagain, I want to stress that if we can demonstrate to the regulators it can be disposed of because it is transuranic waste, there is about $20 million worth of work.
Now, we are continuing solid removal as proposed in our 2006 budget. The solids are the salt cakes that remain after the pumpable liquids have been removed. As you can manage, there is 40 or 50 years worth of deposits into these tanks. The solid removal is proving to be more challenging and technically difficult than we had anticipated.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We are working right now actively to figure out the best, most prudent path to remove those solids. A lot of these solids have extremely high radiation doses associated with them. We just want to make sure the workers are protected, we want to make sure we have proven technologies going forward.
But we also have to remember is that the same equipment and the people that we use to remove the solids from the tanks will be the same equipment and people we had used to actually perform tank closure. And we think from a project perspective, the best way to deploy that resource would be close-coupled. So we would prefer, from a project perspective, to empty the tanks of the solids and then go into closure.
Mr. EVERETT. Ms. Tauscher.
Ms. TAUSCHER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ambassador Brooks, I want to join Congressman Thornberry in thanking you again for the comprehensive nature of your statement and the fulsomeness of your remarks. As usual, I think you have really taken hold as Administrator of the NNSA, and I am very pleased to see that.
There is a poster over thereit is difficult to see and more difficult to readbut it is basically a poster of the Sudan nuclear test site. I want to talk to you about RNEP, because it is a study that you are asking for us to fund again.
In 1962 we took a 100 kiloton nuclear warhead, we buried it 635 feet under the surface, which is deeper than any nuclear buster can dig, and we blew it up. As you can tell from the top picture, radiation was not trapped inside the earth and instead was spread above and beyond the target area.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
As you can see from the picture below, the Sudan test displaced 12 million tons of earth and dug a crater 320 feet deep and over 1,000 feet in diameter.
On December 18th, 1970, we conducted another test. The Bainberry used a 10 kiloton device, smaller than the Hiroshima weapon and probably much lower than the B83, and that was placed in the bottom of a sealed 900-foot shaft. The shaft did not contain the explosion. It released a flow-out cloud that rose 10,000 feet in the air and tracked north to Canada.
So, Ambassador Brooks, in both of these cases, the RNEP was buried and we controlled the environment. You have discussed this before in an unclassified environment. I just want to know: Is there any way an RNEP of any size that we would drop will not produce a huge amount of radioactive debris?
Ambassador BROOKS. No, there is not.
Ms. TAUSCHER. Secretary Rumsfeld last week confused the debate over the RNEP when he told our committee that the RNEP study ''is taking existing weapons and doing a study to see if they can be reduced in their power, lethality, to a level that is lower than current weapons,'' close quote.
My understanding was that the RNEP study was not going to change the physics package of the warhead but simply looked at ways to repackage the device so it can penetrate hard geology. Am I right, or are you also looking at lowering the yield of, say, the B83 to perhaps under 5 kilotons?
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ambassador BROOKS. We are not looking at changing the yield of the physics package. We are looking atthere are a couple of aspects. One is a hardened case; the other is very precise control of the attitude. That is, the weapon has to be very close to vertical so that it penetrates, and that is a technical issue. But we are not looking at altering the physics package. What we are trying to make sure is that the physics package survives intact the few meters into the ground.
Ms. TAUSCHER. On an unclassified-level discussion, how deep do you think an RNEP could go?
Ambassador BROOKS. I am not sure we know that. You will measure it in metersa couple of tens of meters, maybe. I mean, certainlyand I really must apologize for my lack of precision if we in the Administration have suggested that it was possible to have a bomb that penetrated far enough to trap all fallout. I do not believe the laws of physics will ever let that be true. It is certainly not what we think we are doing now.
What we we are trying to get in the ground is far enough so that the energy goes deep into the ground to hold at risk deeply buried facilities.
But it is very important for this committee to recognize what we on our side recognizethis is a nuclear weapon. This is a nuclear weapon that is going to be hugely destructive and destructive over a large area. No sane person would use a weapon like that lightly. And I regret any impression that anybody, including me, has given that would suggest that this is going to be an easier decisionI mean, if this weapon were in the arsenal today, it would still be a hugely difficult decision for any President to even contemplate it.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The Administration believes, and I personally believe, that this study should continue. But I do want to make it clear that any thought of a sort of nuclear weapons that are not really destructive is just nuts.
Ms. TAUSCHER. Mr. Chairman, I have other questions I will use in the second round.
Mr. EVERETT. We are going to have a second round.
Ms. TAUSCHER. Thank you.
Mr. EVERETT. Mr. Spratt.
Mr. SPRATT. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. Secretary, if could pick up where we left off, with the MOX plant.
While we are struggling to get the MOX plant up and running to de-weaponize the status of plutonium, 34 tons of it, there are three plutonium-producing plants I think still left in the old former Soviet Union (FSU), Russia, which are still producing weapons-grade quantities ofquality and quantity ofplutonium.
I see there is some money here to deal with those problems. Is that enough money to really resolve that particular problem?
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ambassador BROOKS. There are, as you say, three reactors. Two of them in a place called Seversk, one in a place Zheleznogorsk.
The budget will supportin order to shut them down, you have to provide a replacement for what they also produce besides plutonium, which is heat and light for the surrounding area. To do that we are going to construct fairly traditional fossil fuel plants in these two sites.
We envision completing the Seversk plant in 2008. The budget is fully adequate to do that, and we are in good shape. We have gotten good cooperation from the Russian Federation in holding costs down. Labor costs in Russia are escalating pretty dramatically, and the worldwide shortage of steel affects this as it does all construction projects. But we think we have a very good handle on that, and the funds in this budget are sufficient.
The Zheleznogorsk plant, which will replace the third, is now what we envision in 2011. The Administration currently envisions that the funding for that will come partly from the United States and partly from our international partners.
Mr. SPRATT. Well, if you had more money, could you step up this process?
Ambassador BROOKS. I believe it is technically feasible to move up the Zheleznogorsk plant by maybe 2 years, maybe a year and a half, if there were more money. At the moment, whether we ''need that money'' depends a little bit on how we do with our international partners. Seversk, I think we are pretty much limited by how long it takes to do prudent construction.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
We are pretty firm that we are going to apply the same standards to construction there that we do in the United States, partly because there is a history of corruption and shoddy work in the Russian Federation. I do not mean to suggest that all Russians are that way, but we do need to make sure that we are spending the tax moneyso I do not think I can speed up Seversk even if I had more money. We probably could speed up Zheleznogorsk, but I am entirely comfortable with what we have requested.
Mr. SPRATT. And what does this budget request do with respect to the HEU that has been loaned out around the world to various research reactors?
Ambassador BROOKS. This budget will support the conversionthere are 105 research reactors around the world that use highly enriched uranium. About a third of them have been converted, about a third of them are being converted, about another third we need additional research in order to find ways to convert to get the proper plus characteristics for the purposewe call them research reactors. They also produce medical isotopes in some cases.
The budget supports the completion of conversion of all 105 reactors, and the repatriation of the fuel involved through the United States or Russia, depending on where the reactor design originally came from, by 2014.
Mr. SPRATT. 2014?
Ambassador BROOKS. Yes, sir.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. SPRATT. So if you add more money, could you step that up?
Ambassador BROOKS. Most things can sped up if you had more money, although the problems are not entirely financial. I would like to give you a more complete answer for the record, if I could, on that.
Mr. SPRATT. Yes.
[The information referred to can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. SPRATT. One question, Secretary Golan, about Savannah River site.
Since the passage of the authorization bill last year, has DOE closed any of the waste tanks at the Savannah River site that are being grouted and backfilled with concrete?
Secretary GOLAN. No, we have not. We have not closed any tanks, but if you would like, I would explain the process we have put in place to allow that to happen, if time allows?
Mr. SPRATT. Sure, go ahead.
Secretary GOLAN. The 3116 legislation allows the Secretary to make a determination in consultation with the NRC that all the waste that is in the tanks may not be high-level waste if it meets certain criteria.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Earlier this week, we submitted a draft waste determination for salt waste processing to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. And we started down that process with them with the South Carolina regulators who we are working very closely with. We have a construction permit issued by the Department of Ecology, Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC), to modify the salt stone facility.
And our budget in 2006 fully funds the salt project, the salt waste processing facility, down at Savannah River, which is the facility that will process most of the salt. We are working toward the end of this year, beginning of next year to actually start processing salt on a small scale, some batch processing of salt.
We are continuing to operate the defense waste processing facility, which gets the sludge waste out of the tanks.
And we have also, I think you are aware, we are constructing the second glass waste storage facility, which will take those canisters out of the defense waste processing facility and store them in preparation for opening up a national repository.
So I think we are making good progress. We have a lot of challenges in front of us, but I think we are taking some very aggressive steps in solving this problem.
Mr. SPRATT. Thank you very much.
Mr. EVERETT. I actually think this is the real thing. We will recess. There will be one 15-minute vote, a 5-minute vote, and that generally translates to about 30 minutes.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
We are in recess.
Ms. Tauscher and Mr. Larsen both have additional questions.
Mr. EVERETT. The committee will come to order.
Mr. LARSEN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Secretary Golan, just a harkening back to my previous set of questions and comments, I want to be very clear: I would like you to provide the committee a list of those activities included in that $70 million. I think you said it was $70 million. You mentioned the $20 million cost that you would be spending but for the New Mexico issue, but that still needs another $50 million.
If you could provide a list of activities to the committee that make up the remaining $50 million, I would appreciate it. You do not need to do that right now, but if you could provide that, I would appreciate that follow up.
The second thing I want to just talk to you about with regards to the change because of the seismic retrofit.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The issue there I think is not so muchit could be in part of maybewalking through with the committee why we are where we are with the seismic retrofit, but also if you are able to make that assessment by a certain time this year, do you anticipate that you will be reinjecting yourself into the appropriations process for the dollars before Congress finishes its workif you come up with a dollar amount, again, before we pass the 2006 budget.
So if you need to talk about the seismic issues and then answer the question about whether or not you would anticipate from an assessment, the completed assessment, whether or not you will be asking for more money before Congress finishes the work.
Secretary GOLAN. Sure.
The budget request for the waste treatment plant is down about $60 million from our plan due to recently discovered seismic uncertainties. Actually in December, we slowed down work on some of the facilities that we thought might have been most impacted by this new seismic spectra, which are the pre-treatment facility, which is where all the waste would go into in the high-level waste facility.
The low-level waste balance of plan and laboratory facilities are designed to the uniform building code and are largely unaffected by this.
But let's go back on how we got into where we are today.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If you go back in history, back to the mid1990's, there was something called the geotech report done at the Hanford site in preparation for building a waste treatment plant, or a vitrification plant. The model that was used in the geotech report considered what is called a California modeling of the underbed, or the soil, how the soil reacts after an earthquake event.
If you would think about California and about earthquakes, you would think that would be fairly conservative, but it in fact is not. It basically gives you an idea how the soil transmitted ground waves to the facility.
And in California, as it turns out, the soil is broken up in such a way so it provides more damping than what we are finding out at Hanford.
Earlier in 2004back in 1996, again, this is a report that the Department, the contractors all agreed to, and it was actually the basis for our design at the waste treatment plant.
Earlier in 2004 we actually, working with Defense Nuclear Facility Safety Board, dug some more holes to get some additional seismic data. One of those holes that we dug actually gave us a seismic spectra, which is the shape of the sound wave that would go through your facility in a design-basis earthquake that is about 40 percent higher than what we had anticipated using the California model.
And, again, I would just like to point out here that we are not anticipating this kind of event up at Hanford, because it is a relatively low seismic area. But nevertheless, it is data that we have to consider because this material is going to be processing all the waste out of the tanks.
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
So it is 40 percent higher than what we had thought. We are going through component by component right now assessing especially the walls and structures in the high-level waste and in the pretreatment facility. We are planning to finish that later this spring.
We just transmitted the new seismic spectra data to the contractorour contractor is Bechtelout at the waste treatment plant about two weeks ago. They are going to do a new design basis, a final-design basis, so we are expecting that later this spring.
The full cost and schedule impacts on what that seismic spectra is going to do to the facility is not yet known.
I will say that if anybody has been out to the waste treatment plant understands there is a lot of extra contingency or margin built in, if you look at the size of the rebar and some of the conservaticies that were added. There is probably a lot of that margin already designed in.
But we have to go back and we have to check, because what we do not want to do is have a facility that will not be able to operate or one that cannot demonstrate it can handle a design-basis earthquake.
Mr. LARSEN. Do you, then, anticipate, though, based on the assessment when it is completed, that you may be, again, coming back before the appropriations process is done, before Congress is done, and asking for X amount of dollars?
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Secretary GOLAN. What we will commit to do is, is that after we understand the cost and schedule impacts to design, construction and startup, we will come back to the subcommittee, or to the committee, and explain what those cost and schedule differences may be.
Mr. EVERETT. Ms. Tauscher.
Ms. TAUSCHER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Ambassador Brooks, I have more one more question on the RNEPs, and then I have another question.
I am trying to understand what the efficacy of going forward on the RNEP study is. I mean, if you look at the RNEP study, it is really about hardening the casing on the warhead, and it really does not tell us much about the utility of a bunker buster; it just tells whether we could harden the casing.
Because I would think that this is really about an intelligence challenge. My guess is that we better be pretty darn sure and have pretty perfect information on potential collateral damage, the specifics of the geology between the target and the surface, the precise location of the targetyou know, all of the kind atmospherics around the target.
No matter how well we do hardening the casing of an RNEP, the truth is that without good intelligence and the ability to actually figure out whether we have actually eliminated the target, we do not have, in the end, I think what we are looking for.
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
So I am just really asking you just to clarify: The study is really only about the hardening, isn't it?
Ambassador BROOKS. Yes. But let me make it clear: We have submitted classified reports''we,'' the Administration, some from me, some from the Department of Defenseto this committee and others that talk about the proliferation of hardening in deeply buried targets and they talk about our inability to hold them at risk and to deal a little bit with the intelligence issue.
We are more than happy to submit additional material.
This has been wrestled with for a number of years by the career professionals.
The RNEP study itself answers a technical question, which is, if the country decides it wants to be able to hold hardened and deeply buried targets at risk with a nuclear weapon, can it be done?
The broader question''Do you want to do that?''depends on the things that you have said there. My view, not the Administration's position, is that the world's only superpower would be ill-advised to be in a position where there is something that we cannot hold at risk somehow, because I think that that weakens deterrence.
But that is the debate that we need to have. All I am trying to do is give us some technical facts to have it with.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Ms. TAUSCHER. I have one more question, and then I just want to engage in a colloquy with the chairman for a second.
It is my understanding, for parochial interests, that the National Ignition Facility (NIF) is making excellent progress, last year, and completed a series of very unique physics experiments supporting our nuclear weapons and Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) programs.
Can you do a small, little paid political announcement for the NIF, please
Ambassador BROOKS. Can I do what, ma'am, I am sorry?
Ms. TAUSCHER [continuing]. commercial
Ambassador BROOKS. Sure. I mean, let me just make it clear: The National Ignition Facility will give us a capability to investigate phenomena that can only be investigated by going to the surface of the sun, which I do not know how to do, or by setting off a nuclear weapon, which neither of us want me to do.
There were, a number of years ago, some problems there, but this is one of the best-managed projects we have. It has four beams of the 192 now functioning, and with those four beams, it is the most powerful laser in the world. Our problem right now is de-conflicting all the people who want to use it already.
Page 59 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
And marching forward, it is extremely important for stockpile stewardship. We are committed to focus on the goal of ignition in 2010, and we will do that. That is important, but it does not exhaust what we are going to get out of this facility. I cannot begin to overstate the importance that we attach to this. It is the largest, in dollar terms, it is the largest single tool of the big tools that we are crafting for stockpile stewardship.
Ms. TAUSCHER. Thank you, Ambassador.
Mr. Chairman, in light of the good information that Ambassador Brooks gave us, I think that the RNEP study, which has obviously been a controversial issue, I think that with your indulgence, if the staff could look at some collateral hearings on the RNEP that we might want to do.
Because I think we all agree, we want to be able to hold some of these very dangerous targets at risk. I am not convinced that we need to do that with a nuclear weapon. I think we can use a combination of special forces and precision-guided conventional weapons.
But having said that, the other pieces of it in the mosaic that actually get us to where we might want to make a decision include the intel piece, which is really, as you know as a member of the intel committee, the fuzzy matter, so to speak. So perhaps you would consider having some other hearings about RNEP that include that piece, because I think that is where we really get to make a much more informed decision about RNEP.
The study is basically a technical study, and it is about whether we can actually harden the warhead so that the physics package does not go boom before it is meant to and there isn't all this fallout.
Page 60 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
But I think this other piece is really I think the piece that makes practical sense out of whether we actually want to have one of these, need to have one of these or whether there are other parts of it.
Because without the intel, even if we solved the technical problems of protecting the physics package and actually burrowing down to where we want to get the bad guys, unless we have the intel that gives usand the President, franklythe absolute decision to make the best informed decision, where there is no ambiguity, we are never going to use it. And I think that we might want to spend money someplace else.
So if you will consider setting our good staff forward and perhaps looking at these other parts of it, I think we would all be better informed, then we would all come together perhaps on something.
Mr. EVERETT. I would be happy for the staff to take a look at that.
Let me remind you and the committee that next Thursday at 9 a.m. we will have an opportunity to further discuss RNEP in a classified session, and that General Cartwright from the U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) will be there as well as Dr. Beckner.
So you may get your wish sooner than you think.
Ms. TAUSCHER. Mr. Chairman, you are always doing what I want you to do. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate it.
Page 61 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mr. EVERETT. I have learned from experience. [Laughter.]
Ms. TAUSCHER. And how charming you are. [Laughter.]
Mr. EVERETT. Any other questions from any of the panel members?
Mr. Ambassador and Mr. Secretary, we appreciate very much you being here.
We appreciate, Ambassador Brooks, your report, and of yours, Mr. Secretary.
As Mr. Thornberry pointed out, in the past it is been kind of tough to get some of this stuff that we want, but that is very complete and we appreciate it and we appreciate your appearance here today.
And I appreciate the committee for the interest they have shown.
The hearing is dismissed.
[Whereupon, at 4:12 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]