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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Estimate for First Phase of New LANL Pu Strategy Set at $2 Billion

The first phase of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s new strategy to upgrade its plutonium facilities will cost about $2 billion, according to a new cost estimate approved last week by Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Poneman as part of a Critical Decision-1 approval of the project. Poneman signed off on the CD-1 package Aug. 22, allowing the revamped project to proceed in the wake of a decision to defer work on the larger Chemistry and Metallurgy Research Replacement-Nuclear Facility. Congressional authorizers and appropriators earlier this month signed off on an approximately $90 million reprogramming request to free up money. The project includes the installation of new equipment in the lab’s existing Radiological Laboratory/Utility/Office Building (RLUOB) and Plutonium Facility (PF-4), as well as efforts to reconfigure space in PF-4. It does not include construction of new “modules” for plutonium work, which are expected to cost approximately another $2 billion and are expected to need separate authorization in DOE’s Critical Decision process.

NS&D Monitor obtained the CD-1 authorization memo drafted by Ingrid Kolb, the director of DOE’s Office of Management, and signed by Poneman, as well as the project’s Preliminary Project Execution Plan (PPEP). Both documents outline the plans for moving forward with the project, noting that long lead procurement is slated to begin in January of 2015 after a National Environmental Policy Act Supplement Analysis is completed. The PPEP suggests the project will be completed by 2024.

The cost estimate includes a range of $505 to $675 million for the installation of new equipment in the lab’s existing Radiological Laboratory/Utility/Office Building, and $995 to $1.4 billion for reconfiguring space and installing equipment in the lab’s Plutonium Facility. The total estimate of $2.9 billion also includes $856 million in already spent funds: $199 million on construction of RLUOB, $197 million on installation of equipment at RLUOB, and $460 million already spent on designing CMRR-NF.

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