US nuclear agency falls short on scheduling, cost estimates

The U.S. agency in charge of jumpstarting the production of key components for the nation’s nuclear arsenal is falling short when it comes to having a comprehensive schedule for the multibillion-dollar project

“Jay Coghlan, executive director of Nuclear Watch New Mexico, pointed to some of the price tags associated with the project having doubled over the last four years. He said production overall at the two sites could cost at least $60 billion over 30 years with radioactive waste disposal and other environmental and public health concerns adding to the bill.

“Until Congress and the New Mexican delegation demand credible cost estimates and schedules, Coghlan said lawmakers “should stop rewarding the guilty with yet more money…That is simple good governance that could help slow our sleepwalk into the new and unpredictable nuclear arms race,” he said.

BY SUSAN MONTOYA BRYAN, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS – KOB, THE WASHINGTON POST, US NEWS, ABC NEWS | January 13, 2023

FILE – In this Nov. 20, 2013 file photo, seen through thick protective glass, shows the area where workers sand-blast the large stainless steel tanks used in the vitrification process to rid them of contaminants at the Defense Waste Processing Facility at the Savannah River Site near Aiken, S.C. The U.S. agency in charge of jumpstarting the production of key components for the nation’s nuclear arsenal is falling short when it comes to having a comprehensive schedule for the multibillion-dollar project. The Government Accountability Office said in a report released Thursday, Jan. 12, 2023, that plans by the National Nuclear Security Administration for reestablishing plutonium pit production do not follow best practices and run the risk of delays and cost overruns. (AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton,File)[ASSOCIATED PRESS/Stephen B. Morton]
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The U.S. agency in charge of jumpstarting the production of key components for the nation’s nuclear arsenal is falling short when it comes to having a comprehensive schedule for the multibillion-dollar project.

The Government Accountability Office said in a report released Thursday that plans by the National Nuclear Security Administration for reestablishing plutonium pit production do not follow best practices and run the risk of delays and cost overruns.

The federal government has not manufactured plutonium cores regularly in more than 30 years and faces a congressionally mandated deadline of turning out at least 80 per year by 2030.

The GAO describes the modernization effort as the agency’s largest investment in weapons production infrastructure to date, noting that plutonium is a dangerous material and making the weapon cores is difficult and time consuming.

“NNSA lacks both a comprehensive cost estimate and a schedule outlining all activities it needs to achieve this capability,” the reports states.

Scroll to top