Nevada National Security Site video honors veterans who continue to serve

More than 400 NNSS employees committed their lives to our freedom in the U.S. military. Join us in thanking our heroes in honor of Veterans Day. To all who have served and currently serve:

Thank you.

NNSS Falcon Plasma Focus Team (from left): Michael Heika, Joseph Bellow,
Brady Gall and Michael Blasco

Nevada National Security Site named as finalist in R&D 100 Awards

The Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) was named a finalist in the 2019 R&D 100 Awards for its breakthrough Falcon Plasma Focus (FPF) device, led by NNSS Senior Engineer Brady Gall.

Dense Plasma Focus (DPF) systems create short, high-intensity neutron pulses, making them capable of detecting the presence of special nuclear material that may be hidden or inaccessible by visual inspection. However, DPF systems at the NNSS are large, stationary platforms. Developed by Gall, NNSS Technologist Joseph Bellow, Engineer Michael Heika and Master Technologist Michael Blasco, the FPF model is a compact, mobile version of the technology that can be easily transported and operated.

“With this recognition, I hope that our portable FPF technology will receive continued support to advance plasma science and nuclear physics research, create new business opportunities and, most importantly, serve our nation as a reliable non-proliferation capability,” Gall said.

The FPF represents a multi-year effort to utilize the technology for NNSS Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation missions and involves partnerships with scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL); Sandia National Laboratories; Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; the University of Nevada, Las Vegas; Powder River Geophysical; Alameda Applied Sciences; and Sigma Science/Keystone Global Engineering and Technology, Inc.

The R&D 100 Awards will take place Dec. 5, during the R&D 100 conference in San Francisco. The NNSS has previously won six R&D 100 awards for its 2018 Silicon Strip Cosmic Muon Detectors, 2017 Geometrically Enhanced Photocathodes, 2013 KiloPower with LANL, 2012 Multiplexed Photonic Doppler Velocimeter, 2010 Movies of eXtreme Imaging Experiments (MOXIE) with LANL and 2009 High-Resolution Holography Lens entries. NNSS was also a finalist for its Argus Fisheye Probe in 2015.

Beatty community members learn about the groundwater program.

Groundwater Open House offers public glimpse into NNSS environmental activities

On October 17, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Environmental Management (EM) Nevada Program hosted the 8th Groundwater Open House at the Beatty Community Center in Beatty, Nevada. The public event provided community members information about ongoing groundwater characterization and long-term monitoring activities at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). The EM Nevada Program team discussed the history, successes and long-term monitoring work being performed at the NNSS and how these ongoing efforts continue to keep the public safe from groundwater contaminated by historical underground nuclear testing.

Information provided at the Open House highlighted results of scientific investigations showing that groundwater in the area is safe, promoted long-term monitoring activities and shared results of sampling at Pahute Mesa, which is a groundwater characterization area located in the northwest portion of the NNSS. In addition, Nye County was on hand to discuss groundwater sampling activities conducted in the vicinity of Beatty, Lathrop Wells and Amargosa Valley. Results of Nye County sampling activities continue to show that the groundwater in the area is not contaminated from historic underground nuclear testing. Rounding out the team of experts committed to sharing their decades of knowledge on the NNSS and groundwater were representatives from the Desert Research Institute (DRI); Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory; Los Alamos National Laboratory; Mission Support and Test Services (MSTS); National Nuclear Security Administration, Nevada Field Office; Navarro; Nevada Division of Environmental Protection; and U.S. Geological Survey.

Irene Farnham reviews groundwater flow with members of the public.

Special visitors at the Groundwater Open House were Beatty Girl Scout Troop 775, who were enthralled during a groundwater demonstration by Navarro hydrologist, Jeff Wurtz. Troop leader, Carlotta Marinaro of Beatty, was excited for her troop to talk with the experts and view the groundwater video and posters, stating that it’s “good for them to learn about the environment and geology of their community, and to speak directly to the scientists who study it.”

The EM Nevada Program prioritizes transparent communications with communities neighboring the NNSS, particularly on the safety of the groundwater. This includes providing information that is published annually in the NNSS Environmental Report, which contains results of sampling conducted by the EM Nevada Program, DRI, MSTS and Nye County. Informing our neighbors and inspiring the next generation to look at the environment around them in new ways is one of the many reasons why timely, transparent communication continues to be a vital and important part of the EM Nevada Program.

Girl Scout Troop 775 viewing the groundwater demonstration.
Local burros stopped for a visit at the Groundwater Open House.

NSSAB 2019 year in review
NSSAB members observe a low-level waste visual verification at an NNSS generator.

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Nevada Site Specific Advisory Board (NSSAB) 2019 year in review

NSSAB works hard in fiscal year 2019 to include providing EM Nevada Program 10 recommendations!

The dedicated volunteers on the NSSAB had a very productive fiscal year (FY) 2019, hosting six public meetings in Nevada – four in Las Vegas, one in Amargosa Valley and one in Pahrump. During the course of these meetings, the NSSAB tackled multiple tasks related to groundwater, budget and radioactive waste management. As a result of their efforts, the NSSAB provided 10 recommendations to the DOE’s Environmental Management (EM) Nevada Program.

The path to providing these educated recommendations involved many hours of briefings by subject matter experts and follow-up discussion by the Board. In addition, members also attended numerous meetings and conferences, such as the EM National Cleanup Workshop, RadWaste Summit, Devils Hole Workshop (groundwater conference) and Low-Level Waste Stakeholders Forum. They also visited/toured the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) and other DOE cleanup sites.

NSSAB 2019 year in review
NSSAB members vote on FY 2020 work plan.

The recommendations submitted to the EM Nevada Program provide invaluable insight into the public’s priorities on how environmental corrective actions and waste management activities are performed, and are considered when developing short-term and long-term plans for the Program. The 10 recommendations submitted by the NSSAB in FY 2019 include the following:

  1. Proposed ways to enhance the risk-informed scheduling process for the Radioactive Waste Acceptance Program.
  2. Ranked the Pahute Mesa groundwater corrective action area as the top funding priority, followed by a tie between Radioactive Waste Management Disposal Operations and Post-Closure Monitoring activities.
  3. Endorsed DOE’s plan for utilizing a more pragmatic approach for closure of the Pahute Mesa groundwater characterization area.
  4. Ranked the main objectives for Pahute Mesa groundwater well sampling as: (1) expand knowledge of the flow system, (2) refine monitoring network, and (3) support modeling.
  5. Recommended the EM Nevada Program continue conducting visual verifications of generators that ship and dispose waste at the NNSS.
NSSAB 2019 year in review
NSSAB members receive work plan briefings from subject-matter experts during annual NNSS tour.

Closing out FY 2019 activities at the September meeting, the NSSAB established their work plan for FY 2020. And to kick off the new fiscal year, the NSSAB visited the NNSS with a focus on sites related to items they will provide recommendations on in the upcoming year. More information on the NSSAB is available online at www.nnss.gov/nssab/.

What is the NSSAB?

The NSSAB is one of eight federally-chartered DOE advisory boards and is comprised of volunteer members from urban and rural communities in southern Nevada and bordering California that are located near the NNSS. Members meet to study and discuss DOE EM Nevada Program activities and provide recommendations from a community perspective on radioactive waste management/ disposal and transportation activities, the effects of historic nuclear testing on the groundwater, and other environmental corrective actions..

EM move
From left, Ray Mele, Kelly Pavelka and David Mendez, all employees with EM Nevada Program contractor Navarro, discuss the logistics of the program's relocation to new offices in Las Vegas.

EM Nevada Program expects office move to save at least $3.2 million

All 97 employees of the EM Nevada Program and environmental program services contractor Navarro recently relocated to an energy-efficient office building, saving an estimated $3.2 million or more over the next 10 years and shrinking their workplace footprint by 25,000 square feet.

“What really stood out to me was how quickly the team got together and made this move happen,” EM Nevada Program Operations Support Deputy Program Manager Catherine Hampton said. “It was less than seven months from the day we signed the lease to the day we moved in. And to accomplish what we did in that short timeframe was quite an incredible feat.”

The EM Nevada Program may continue to lower costs by further reducing its space at the Molasky Corporate Center as the program completes its remaining cleanup mission. The EM Nevada Program is currently using about 15,000 square feet of space at the center, which is also home to offices of the Internal Revenue Service and Secret Service.

In a key cost-saving initiative, the EM Nevada Program used existing floorplans at the center instead of configuring new workplace spaces, repurposed sound absorption features, and relocated energy-efficient lighting from its previous location.

EM move
EM Nevada Program employee Tiffany Gamero is at work in the program’s new offices at the Molasky Corporate Center in downtown Las Vegas.

Safety was the top priority of move-in day. With more than 800 boxes, 100 bins, computers, printers, and other assorted equipment, staff members worked with multiple vendors to ensure a successful transition to the new location with no incidents or injuries.

For more information on the EM Nevada Program, click here.

2018 DP Awards
Several members of the NNSS Nuclear Material Team accept the NNSA Exceptional Achievement Award.

Seven Defense Programs Awards of Excellence presented to the NNSS

The Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) is a proud recipient of seven National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Defense Programs Awards of Excellence.

The Award of Excellence is presented to individuals and teams in the NNSA enterprise who make significant achievements in safety, quality, productivity, cost savings, creativity, enhanced surety and stockpile stewardship capabilities. Included in the recognition for the 2018 calendar year is the Exceptional Achievement Award, which acknowledges extraordinary accomplishments in the nuclear weapons lifecycle process that utilize stockpile stewardship capabilities to further promote and advance national security objectives. The NNSS Nuclear Material Team received the NNSA Exceptional Achievement Award accolade.

"Special note of thanks to all of you who keep the mission going every day," said Assistant Deputy Administrator for Major Modernization Programs in the NNSA Defense Programs Office Mike Thompson. "Because of the legacy and heritage that you are all carrying on so well, we’re now in a position where, thankfully, the workload is ramping up. The work you are doing downhole in U1a and at all the other key facilities provides very important data that we’re anxious to get our hands on—the labs are anxious so we can move forward with the program of work we’ve got ahead of us. It’s a big deal."

The seven award-winning NNSS teams, comprised of more than 500 employees, are the Device Assembly Facility Argus Installation-Perimeter Protection Subproject Integrated Project Team, Electronic Security Systems Team, Dual-Imaging Radiographic Enhancement Team, Joint Actinide Shock Physics Experimental Research Team, Dry Alluvium Geology-2 Emplacement and Stemming Team, Sierra Nevada-Lamarck Fielding Team and the NNSS Nuclear Material Team.

2018 DP Awards
Device Assembly Facility Argus Installation-Perimeter Protection Subproject Integrated Project Team
2018 DP Awards
Dry Alluvium Geology-2 Emplacement and Stemming Team
2018 DP Awards
Dual-Imaging Radiographic Enhancement Team
2018 DP Awards
Joint Actinide Shock Physics Experimental Research Team
2018 DP Awards
Sierra Nevada-Lamarck Fielding Team
2018 DP Awards
Electronic Security Systems Team

UNLV Grant
Clark County students and their UNLV mentor perform an experiment examining rising sea levels. Photo: UNLV/Josh Hawkins

STEM in action: NNSS contractor presents University of Nevada-Las Vegas $33,000 grant

Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) management and operating contractor Mission Support and Test Services (MSTS) awarded a $33,000 grant to the University of Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV) to propel science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education for local students.

The backing will help fund Rebel Science Camp, a program that allows 1,100 fifth-grade students from Clark County School District Title I schools to explore how science, technology, engineering and mathematics play into real-world applications through hands-on activities. The camp is facilitated by UNLV College of Sciences undergraduate students as part of their credit requirements.

Founded in 2017, Rebel Science Camp has grown each progressive year. The grant will enable more students to experience experiments offered through the program, which include building an aquifer, rock and mineral studies, color chromatography and climate change lessons.

“This really helps us expand the camp,” said UNLV Associate Professor-in-Residence Alison Sloat. “In the past, we’ve only been able to have six days of camp in the spring, and now we’re able to have eight. Before they come to camp, 51 percent of students want to be a scientist. After camp, it’s 68 percent. Their science knowledge is greatly increased.”

Rebel Science Camp is also a proponent for encouraging students to pursue a higher education. Following camp, 98 percent of participants report wanting to attend college.

“As the largest technology-based employer in Southern Nevada, MSTS is thrilled to help Clark County students explore infinite possibilities through STEM,” said MSTS President Mark Martinez. “These could be the future leaders of science-based industries, including the NNSS. We’re excited be a part of their introduction to incredible careers.”

MSTS receives the VPP Star of Excellence.

Reaching for the Stars: Nevada National Security Site achieves safety and health excellence

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Voluntary Protection Program (VPP) recently recognized two Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) contractors.

NNSS management and operating contractor, Mission Support and Test Services, received the coveted Star of Excellence during the DOE-VPP workshop in New Orleans. Presented by the VPP Participants Association, the workshop is a component of the national symposium and is held annually.

The Star of Excellence is awarded to DOE contractors who achieve injury, illness and lost workday rates at least 75 percent below the Bureau of Labor Statistics national average for their industry code, meet annual DOE VPP goals and demonstrate strong involvement in the VPP Participants Association, VPP mentoring and outreach.

2019 VPP SOC
SOC celebrates their VPP Superior Star.

Also recognized during the workshop was SOC, the NNSS security protective force contractor. SOC was awarded the Superior Star for achieving injury, illness and lost workday rates at least 50 percent below the national average and demonstrating significant involvement in mentoring and outreach.

“It’s an honor to be recognized as a site that puts employee safety and health first,” says Nevada Field Office Manager Steve Lawrence. “We look forward to continued excellence in these areas as we remain committed to the DOE Voluntary Protection Program.”

The DOE-VPP promotes safety and health excellence through cooperative efforts among labor, management and government at the DOE contractor sites. DOE has also formed partnerships with other federal agencies and the private sector for both advancing and sharing its VPP experiences and preparing for program challenges in the next century.

The DOE-VPP has three levels of recognition: STAR, MERIT and DEMONSTRATION. Contractors whose programs meet the requirements for outstanding safety and health programs receive STAR recognition, the highest achievement level.


Nevada National Security Site releases 2018 environmental report

The Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) released its annual environmental report for 2018, now available online at http://www.nnss.gov/pages/resources/library/NNSSER.html.

The 2018 NNSS Environmental Report provides the results of environmental monitoring and compliance related to all programs and activities conducted in and around the NNSS to protect the environment and the public.

“The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Nevada Field Office (NFO) presents this environmental report to summarize actions taken in 2018 to protect the environment and the public while achieving our mission goals,” said NNSA NFO Manager Steve Lawrence. “This report is a key component in our efforts to keep the public informed of environmental conditions at the NNSS and its support facilities in Las Vegas.”

Contents in the report include status and activities for environmental compliance and stewardship, radiological monitoring of groundwater and air, endangered species protection, cultural resources, outreach and more.