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New report reviews science and engineering quality at national security laboratories
Date:9/10/2013

WASHINGTON The science and engineering capabilities that underpin the nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship and nonproliferation missions at the nation's three national security laboratories are "healthy and vibrant," says a new report from the National Research Council. The committee that wrote the report found no problems with the quality of science and engineering that would prevent certification of the stockpile. However, the report identifies several issues that, if not addressed, have the potential to erode the ability to perform high-quality work at the laboratories.

Congress asked the Research Council to review the quality of scientific research and engineering at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), and Sandia National Laboratories (SNL), which are part of the National Nuclear Security Administration. This report is the second of the two-phase study; the first report, released in February 2012, examined management of the laboratories.

The new report examines the laboratories' capabilities in four areas of fundamental importance to their primary missions: (1) weapons design; (2) system engineering and understanding of the effects of aging on system performance; (3) weapons science base; and (4) modeling and simulation. In many areas, science and engineering at the laboratories is of very high quality. But the report identifies several stresses that could contribute to the deterioration of the work environment for scientists and engineers and limit the quality of their work in the future and thus the nation's ability to benefit fully from the laboratories' potential.

The United States declared a unilateral moratorium on nuclear weapons testing in 1992. In the absence of new test data, the science-based stockpile stewardship program relies on pre-moratorium test data, computer models and simulations, surveillance, and other experiments . The laboratories are building enha
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Contact: Molly Galvin
news@nas.edu
202-334-2138
National Academy of Sciences
Source:Eurekalert

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