THE article that follows on the new Contained Firing Facility (CFF) at Site 300 describes one of our activities to ensure that the U.S. retains the capability to support the nuclear stockpile while acknowledging and responding to environmental concerns (see Contained Firing Facility article). Building 801, where the facility is being constructed, is the site of advanced, high-speed optical and electronic diagnostic equipment as well as our recently upgraded flash x-ray machine, which will be discussed in an upcoming Science & Technology Review article. Upon the completion of the new CFF in 2000, we will possess a one-of-a-kind, indoor hydrodynamic testing capability.|
Improved capabilities were not, however, the only driving force behind building the facility. We have been planning for some ten years for the facility, which will better protect the surrounding environment. This kind of change is necessarily much more complex to build into the facility than an equipment upgrade alone.
On a different scale, the nuclear weapons community in the U.S. has experienced its own dramatic changes in the past seven years. The most visible of these changes is the cessation of nuclear testing. In addition, the U.S. has been reducing the number of weapons in the stockpile while not developing any new nuclear weapons. The capacity and capability of the nuclear weapons production facilities are also undergoing changes. To assure the President that the remaining weapons remain safe and reliable, the Defense Programs part of DOE has created a comprehensive Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan that describes how DOE and its laboratories and plants will work together to accomplish this objective.
Lawrence Livermore has a significant role in this plan. Part of our responsibility is to ensure that the warheads that were originally designed by the Laboratory continue to perform as originally designed. We also act as peer reviewers for analyses that Los Alamos National Laboratory performs on the weapons it has designed. Even without the availability of nuclear testing, we continue to test many of the non-nuclear components. For instance, we use surrogate materials to replace the radioactive materials used in real nuclear weapons so we can test the integrated performance of the design. For many years at Site 300, we have performed this kind of hydrodynamic testing, now even more important in the absence of nuclear testing. The CFF will improve the Laboratory's ability to continue with such testing in support of its mission commitments to stockpile stewardship and management.
LLNL remains committed to supporting the President and the nation's nuclear weapons policy by identifying and addressing issues that will ensure that the nation's nuclear deterrent is available in a known and stable condition. The CFF aids Livermore's strides toward this goal.