BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Los Alamos National Laboratory Director Thom Mason has announced the creation of an additional directorate within the LANL Weapons Program called the Directorate for Plutonium Infrastructure (ALDPI).
In an email to staff, Mason said the new directorate will be responsible for projects supporting the Plutonium Center Of Excellence, the Los Alamos Plutonium Pit Production Project (LAP4) the Chemistry and Material Research Replacement Project , Reinvestment Project and related programmatic equipment installations and capability-based investment projects.
The announcement was made just hours before Mason hosted a virtual community during which he discussed the Lab’s plutonium mission at length. See https://losalamosreporter.com/2021/04/30/los-alamos-national-laboratory-director-thom-mason-holds-virtual-community-meeting-attended-by-100/
“With this new directorate’s focus on plutonium infrastructure, the Laboratory will be better positioned to expand this portfolio with the advent of LAP4. Capital Projects, along with other directorates, will provide support via matrix deployment and limited direct transfer of personnel to ALDPI,” Mason said.
He announced that Dr. Steve Rottler, chair of the Triad Board of Directors’ Operations Committee will serve as the interim Associate Laboratory Director for Plutonium Infrastructure while a permanent candidae and supporting staff are identified.
“Execution of the Plutonium Pit Production mission is a significant focus of the Laboratory’s programmatic responsibilities. It will take simultaneous excellence in all areas of the Laboratory to meet these federal mission requirements and I am confident that our dedicated workforce will meet this challenge,” Mason said.
Earlier in the day Thursday, the Department of Energy National Nuclear (DOE/NNSA) announced the approval of the Critical Decision 1 (CD-1) milestone for LAP4. CD-1 approval marks the completion of the project definition phase and the conceptual design as part of DOE’s Order 413.3B process for the acquisition of capital assets. NNSA identified its recommended approach to produce at least 30 plutonium pits per year to meet national security needs.
An NNSA news released identified the CD-1 cost estimate for LAP4 as $2.7-$3.9 billion with an overall project completion range of 2027-2028.
“Critical equipment is scheduled to be installed in time to achieve the 30 pits per year production capacity in 2026. The CD-1 cost estimate and project completion date ranges are preliminary estimates that will be refined as the project conceptual design is matured to the 90% design level required to achieve CD-2 (approval of the performance baseline). Consistent with industry best practices and DOE policy, NNSA will set the performance cost and schedule baseline at CD-2, which is expected in 2023,” the release states.