DOE Manager at LANL Reassigned to Complex 2030 Project
Ed Wilmot, the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Manager of Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL), has been reassigned to help implement a nationwide reorganization of the United States nuclear weapons complex. NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the Department of Energy (DOE). It maintains and enhances the nuclear weapons stockpile, as well as oversees the national laboratories, such as LANL.
Wilmot has been reassigned to oversee the implementation of Complex 2030, a proposed transition of the United States nuclear weapons complex. With Complex 2030, DOE proposes to modernize and increase the efficiency of the stockpile by redesigning the components of existing nuclear weapons to incorporate new designs. The new designs will cater to post Cold War threats and may include such developments as low yield nuclear weapons.
Central to the Complex 2030 proposal is the development of a new bomb production facility, called the Consolidated Plutonium Center. This facility would develop and build plutonium pits for nuclear warheads. A plutonium pit is the core or trigger of a nuclear weapon. DOE has proposed several sites for the Consolidated Plutonium Center, including LANL.
During his time at LANL, Wilmot oversaw efforts to increase plutonium pit manufacturing and the on-site low-level radioactive waste dump, as well as the change in management from the University of California to Los Alamos National Security, a limited liability corporation.
Julianne Smith, a NNSA spokesperson, told the Albuquerque Journal that "[Wilmot is] one of our top senior managers and we need him to help as we gear up for the '08 budget and to help implement Complex 2030."
Community groups request that the change in management provide for effective oversight of LANL cleanup. In March 2005, Wilmot signed the Consent Order, an agreement between DOE, LANL managers and the New Mexico Environment Department (NMED) for a fence-to-fence clean up of legacy waste. However, several environmental clean up projects have been fined by NMED for violating the clean up plans and missing schedule deadlines.
The change in management comes at a time when DOE is under great scrutiny for security matters throughout the nuclear weapons complex. In June 2006, it was discovered that hackers had broken into the computer network at Sandia National Laboratories and gained access to personnel information. In October 2006, DOE acknowledged that it could not meet its own post-September 11th security standards to protect a Tennessee facility from a terrorist threat and gave itself an extension of time to comply. This facility stores an estimated 189 metric tons of bomb-grade material.
In 2004, LANL suspended operations after inventory checks showed that two disks containing classified nuclear information were missing. These disks were never found, however, operations resumed because DOE determined that the disks had never existed. Wilmot had recently become NNSA Manager at LANL. Most recently, in October 2006, Los Alamos Police found classified LANL documents during a drug investigation at a mobile home trailer.
In large part because of these security concerns, former NNSA Director Linton Brooks was asked to resign, and replaced by Tom D'Agostino. Congress has initiated an investigation into the DOE security breaches.